Tens of thousands of people in Brazil staged another day of protests against President Jair Bolsonaro, in particular for his chaotic handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 461,000 people in the country.
In downtown Rio de Janeiro, some 10,000 people wearing masks marched through the streets with some chanting “Bolsonaro genocide” and “Go away Bolsovirus”.
Similar rallies were held in other major cities, the latest in a wave of anger against Bolsonaro that began months ago. After the United States, Brazil has the world’s second-highest coronavirus death toll.
At the outset of the pandemic, the far-right president dismissed COVID-19 as “a little flu” and, as the death toll rose steadily, he went on to infuriate people in other ways, opposing stay-at-home measures and masks, touting ineffective medications, refusing offers of vaccines, and failing to anticipate oxygen shortages that left patients to suffocate.
One of the themes of the rallies on Saturday was how many lives might have been saved if the Bolsonaro government started Brazil’s vaccination drive earlier. The effort is going slowly and has sputtered frequently for lack of supplies.
“We must stop this government. We must say ‘enough is enough’,” businessman Omar Silveira told the AFP news agency at the Rio rally.
Of Bolsonaro, he added: “He is a murderer, a psychopath. He has no feelings. He does not feel as we do. He cannot perceive the disaster that he is causing.”
Demonstrators also assailed Bolsonaro for allowing deforestation of the Amazon and land seizures from Indigenous people and said he encourages violence and racism.