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Thousands Take to Street in Protest as COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 500,000 in Brazil

Sunday, 20-June-2021 15:10

A protester in Brazil wears a face shield and face mask
Image : ANTARA/REUTERS/PILAR OLIVARES
A protester in Brazil wears a face shield and face mask
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BRASILIA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Thousands of people took to the streets across Brazil on Saturday (06/19/2021) to protest Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's pandemic response, lashing out at the leader for not getting vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need to wear masks.

Brazil surpassed 500,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the Brazilian Health Ministry, the world's highest death toll after the United States.

The Brazilian government has faced strong criticism for missing an early opportunity to procure vaccines. Pharmaceutical maker Pfizer said it had not gotten any response to an offer to sell the vaccine to the government between August and November last year.

"We are protesting against the mass killing of Bolsonaro's government that did not buy vaccines and did nothing to care for its people in the last year," said Aline Rabelo, 36, during a protest at a national mall in Brasilia, as reported by Reuters.

Bolsonaro's press office did not respond to a request for comment. Only 11 percent of Brazilians have been fully vaccinated, and 29 percent have received the first dose, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Brazilian media reported that protests had been held in 26 states as well as the capital Brasilia.

Many demonstrators called the 500,000 people killed as a form of genocide by the government against the Brazilian people. They shouted, beat drums, and held up banners demanding Bolsonaro be removed from office.

"Half a million (lives) reasons to overthrow Bolsonaro," wrote one protester in downtown Sao Paulo.

While organizers promised the biggest demonstrations in more than 300 cities, gatherings in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia on Saturday morning appeared to be no bigger than the last major protest on May 29.

Protests in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city and financial center, blocked a major thoroughfare in the city center, where protesters unfurled banners the size of a city block demanding "Life, Bread, Vaccines and Education." It's unclear how the crowd compares to the May 29 protest there.

A special Senate committee is investigating the Bolsonaro administration's pandemic response, highlighting pending efforts to obtain a vaccine while prioritizing unproven treatments for COVID-19.

Last month, a poll showed Bolsonaro's popularity had slumped to new lows, with only 24% of Brazilians saying his government was "good" or "great." The same poll shows Bolsonaro's left-wing rival, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, would win in the second round of elections if the 2022 elections were held today, as reported by Antara.

Reporter : turkhan
Editor : turkhan