Protests against Bolsonaro gather momentum in Brazil

By Martina Farmbauer (dpa news)

Demonstrators march in a Black Lives Matter protest at Largo da Batata on June 7, 2020 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. People of African descent make up at least 56% of Brazil’s population, however Afro-Brazilians face widespread economic, health and education discrimination. Photo by Victor, Getty Images

HAVANA TIMES – Protests against President Jair Bolsonaro are gathering momentum in Brazil, with plans for new rallies and even for a permanent mobilization against his handling of the country’s massive Covid-19 outbreak and his alleged attacks on democracy.

“Our goal is to show that most of the population oppose the government’s deadly policies and threats to break with democracy,”
Danilo Passaro, an organizer from the movement Somos Democracia (We Are Democracy), told dpa this week.

He referred to an opinion poll by the institute Datafolha, which showed that Bolsonaro’s support currently lies at 33 per cent.

A manifesto against the president, launched by the initiative Estamos Juntos (We Stand Together), was signed by nearly 300,000 people.

New protests are planned in several cities on Sunday, after thousands of people took to the streets in Sao Paulo and elsewhere a week before.

Organizers are also discussing “a lasting mobilization,” according to the daily Folha de Sao Paulo.

The South American giant has registered the most Covid-19 cases worldwide after the United States, and the government stopped publishing cumulative statistics on the disease at the weekend.

But a Supreme Court order forced it to start releasing them again, and the Health Ministry reported 772,416 infections and 39,680 deaths on Wednesday.

The government’s attempt not to publish the full figures prompted accusations of censorship after Bolsonaro had already come under fire for downplaying the pandemic and opposing lockdowns in order to revive the economy.

The far-right former army captain has joined rallies at which his supporters called for the closure of Congress and of the Supreme Court.

Bolsonaro backers have even requested a military intervention to allow him to govern unhindered.

“[The] fact that these things are being discussed openly shows how damaged Brazil’s democracy already is,” German-Brazilian political scientist Oliver Stuenkel wrote on Twitter.

Anti-government protesters also want to manifest their solidarity with black people after the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

Bolsonaro has made disparaging remarks about Afro-Brazilians and indigenous people, and Brazilian police are accused of racist violence.

Football fans critical of Bolsonaro have faced off with his supporters in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and other cities.

Leftist parties also back the demonstrations, but Passaro stressed the importance of the football fans, because corruption scandals have made many people lose their trust in politicians.

Organizers of the upcoming rallies said protesters would observe health measures such as wearing face masks and observing social distancing.

But such rules were not observed at some previous demonstrations, and some civil society leaders called on government opponents to only stage non-contact protests such as pot-banging or virtual ones.

Bolsonaro has branded the demonstrators “terrorists” and “anti-social people.”