On Saturday, tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets in over 40 Brazilian cities for the third time in recent months, calling for the removal of the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro. In particular, activists and civilians decried Bolsonaro’s COVID-19 response and demanded his impeachment or better vaccine rollout. This comes amidst reports of a potential corruption scandal relating to the poor vaccination program, involving Bolsonaro and other government officials.
On the weekend, protestors marched across Brazil, chanting “Out with Bolsonaro!” and other similar slogans. In addition, they carried signs depicting striking messages. The Associated Press reported one sign carried by a protestor in Belém saying, “If we have a minute of silence for each COVID death, we would be quiet until June 2022.”
Brazil has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of COVID-related deaths growing to over 520,000 cases. This is second only to the United States, according to CNN’s most recent statistics. As a result, Brazil’s health system has been pushed to its breaking point, trying to accommodate the continuing cases in the country. Many attribute this tragedy to Bolsonaro’s poor management of the crisis and outright denial of its seriousness. Instead, he has promoted scientifically unproven miracle cures, denied the importance of social distancing, and compared contracting COVID-19 to getting a “little flu.”
In addition to this, Brazil’s Supreme Court Justice Rosa Weber has launched a criminal probe investigating allegations of potential corruption in Bolsonaro’s vaccine purchasing. According to the New York Times, the Brazilian Health Ministry made a purchase order for 20 million doses of the Covaxin vaccine that had not yet completed clinical trials or been approved by regulators. Previously, Bolsonaro had continually refused Pfizer’s offers for their vaccines, and the deal itself was rife with suspicious financial irregularities.
Allegedly, Bolsonaro was warned about these problems but did nothing about them. So, this probe is to determine whether Bolsonaro broke the law when he failed to stop or denounce this supposed fraud for personal gain. Furthermore, as Al Jazeera reported, Justice Weber noted that the probe would not rule out an investigation into other wrongdoing as well.
It remains to be seen whether this probe will result in Bolsonaro facing the consequences for his negligence and protestors seeing results for their efforts. Currently, there are over 120 requests among Brazilian legislators for Bolsonaro’s impeachment, but he still has a support base within the House of Representatives. However, the growing discontent among the Brazilian populace regarding his mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis will surely harm his chances for re-election next year. Hopefully, the courts can serve proper justice that will lead to improved vaccine rollout for Brazil and reparations for the sufferings of its people.
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