30 May 2021–Brazilians staged protests against President Jair Bolsonaro’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in at least 16 cities across the country on Saturday, carrying signs such as “Out with Bolsonaro” and “Impeachment now.” In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, thousands of mask-wearing people blocked one the largest city’s avenues.
Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted during the coronavirus crisis, which has killed approximately 460,000 Brazilians and infected 16.4m people. Bolsonaro is said to have played down the severity of the virus by dismissing the use of masks as well as casting doubt on the importance of vaccines.
A Brazilian Senate commission is conducting an investigation into his government’s coronavirus policies, including whether it failed to secure COVID-19 vaccines, touted unproven drugs, and pressured local leaders who sought to impose health restrictions.
Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment and opposition to Lula’s Worker’s Party (PT), which had governed Brazil for 13 years straight. Critics of Bolsonaro see his presidency as a threat to the country’s democratic institutions. Bolsonaro is expected to run for reelection next year. He could face a challenge from former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, whose prison sentence on corruption charges was overturned earlier this year.