Tens of thousands of people across Brazil took to the streets on Saturday May 29 to demand the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, step down over his failure to handle the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly half a million people in the country.
Brazil has recorded more than 16 million coronavirus cases, which is the third highest in the world, and its nearly 460,000 death toll is the second highest in the world after the US.
Bolsonaro has faced widespread criticism for downplaying the effects of the virus and opposing lockdowns and other preventatives measures that have led to the collapse of the country’s healthcare system.
Despite getting coronavirus, he argued that lockdowns would damage the economy, dismissed two health ministers and told the public to “stop whining” about the pandemic.
During May, as cases continued soaring, the 66-year-old held several political rallies, including a motorcycle rally attended by thousands in Rio and often not wearing a mask, to reenergize support for his party.
His government is now facing a Brazilian Senate investigation into its policies, including whether it failed to secure vaccines, promoted unproven drugs and “pressured local leaders who sought to impose health restrictions,” according to Al Jazeera.
Demonstrations took place across more than 200 towns and cities, from the capital of Brasilia to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with protesters holding up signs and chanting “Bolsonaro out” and “Impeachment now”.
Bolsonaro’s ratings has dropped in recent polls, with 57% of the population now backing his impeachment, according to local media. Another survey conducted in May showed that the former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is set to defeat Bolsonaro by a wide margin in next year’s presidential election, Bloomberg reported.