Protests occur amid ongoing drop in popularity for Brazilian leader
Protesters took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday to demand the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid corruption scandals against the backdrop of the pandemic.
News broke this week that Brazil’s Defence Ministry told congressional leadership that next year’s elections would not take place without amending the country’s electronic voting system to include a paper trail of each vote.
Bolsonaro has suggested several times without evidence that the current system is prone to fraud, allegations that Brazil’s government has denied.
The president is facing re-election next year in a race in which he is likely to face his political nemesis, former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Polls currently show Bolsonaro losing against Lula.
Continued opposition from protesters
Saturday’s protests were at least the second time this month that Brazilians have taken to the streets in several cities to oppose Bolsonaro.
“I’m here because it is time to react to the genocidal government that we have that has taken over our country,” said Marcos Kirst, a protester in Sao Paulo.
More than 500,000 Brazilians have died of COVID-19 under the leadership of Bolsonaro, who has been widely criticized for dismissing the severity of the disease and opposing masks and physical-distancing measures.
Bolsonaro is now being investigated in the Senate, which is probing the possibility of corruption tied to the purchase of an Indian coronavirus vaccine.
On Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue, the traditional location for political protests, more than 1,000 people were gathering as of 4 p.m. local time on Saturday.
There were later some clashes with police in Sao Paulo, with video showing police using tear gas and advancing on protesters.
Bolsonaro was in Brasilia, the capital, on Saturday and went out for a motorcycle ride while greeting supporters.