Pot-banging protests have erupted across several cities in Brazil as President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the nation, just days after protesters took to the streets over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far killed almost half a million people in the country.
The last few days have been rocky for the right-wing leader, whose popularity had already been flagging amid persistently high daily COVID-19 deaths and cases.
On Wednesday alone, almost 100,000 Brazilians came down with the coronavirus and 2,507 died, according to government data.
Earlier in the day, the nation’s Supreme Court authorised a criminal investigation into Bolsonaro’s environment minister for allegedly interfering with a police probe into illegal logging.
In the televised speech on Wednesday, Bolsonaro briefly summarised some of his government’s recent accomplishments and pledged strong economic growth going forward but presented no new information.
On Saturday, thousands participated in protests in at least 16 cities across the country, which were organised by left-wing political parties, unions and student associations.
In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, thousands of mask-wearing people blocked one the largest city’s avenues, while a large balloon depicted Bolsonaro as a vampire.
Some protests, like the one in Rio de Janeiro, included images of former left-wing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has emerged as Bolsonaro’s main challenger in the nation’s 2022 election, wearing the presidential sash.
Videos circulating on social media on Wednesday night showed skylines across the country with a soundtrack of loud banging and shouted condemnation of Bolsonaro.
Ano que vem o antibolsonarismo tende a ser muito maior e mais rejeitado do que um dia o antipetismo já foi. O #29MForaBolsonaro sinalizou nesse sentido e emitiu sinal de alerta. O #panelaco de hoje em diversas cidades do Brasil é outro indicativo forte 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/UxAn7cU9tl
— George Marques 🇧🇷 (@GeorgMarques) June 3, 2021
In the brief evening speech, Bolsonaro, who has ridiculed masks and vaccines in the past, said all Brazilians who wanted a vaccine would be able to get one by the end of the year.
But in the evening, the nation’s Health Ministry revised down the number of COVID-19 vaccines it will receive in June by about four million doses.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro’s government got a slight lift after it was announced that the country’s economy grew 1.2 percent from the fourth quarter, which was a little higher than expectations.
More than 16.6 million Brazilians have been diagnosed with the virus, with at least 465,000 deaths officially counted.
Almost 46 million people, representing almost 22 percent of the population have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 22.3 million, or 10.6 percent of the population, have been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, which is compiled by the University of Oxford.