People above Profit: Thousands Demonstrate in Brazil in New Wave of Protests in 350 Cities

Brazil Protest

In Brazil, social movements, trade unions, and human rights activists on Saturday demonstrated in at least 350 cities to condemn the recent corruption scandal linking President Jair Bolsonaro with the purchase at inflated prices of Indian-produced Covaxin COVID-19 vaccines.

The protests supported the impeachment petition submitted by unions, left political parties and social organizations to the Lower House on Wednesday.

The nationwide mobilizations come after the Senate Commission of Inquiry on the Pandemic (CPI) ruled that Bolsonaro knew about the overbilling in the purchase of Covaxin doses.

Besides the approval of an emergency aid payment to people in vulnerable situations, demonstrators demanded to speed up the pace of vaccinations.

Local outlet Folha de Sao Paulo unveiled that businessman Luiz Dominguetti had confirmed a bribe offer to raise the cost of 400 million AstraZeneca vaccines by one dollar per dose.

“Over 522.000 Brazilian deaths could have been avoided if the government had purchased the vaccine soon enough,” Central Unitary Workers’ Union Vice President Vagner Freitas said.

“Everyone knows Bolsonaro is the one to blame for this tragedy and this misgovernment,” he added.

Protesters flooded the streets in Brazil, including a massive rally in its biggest city, Sao Paulo, criticizing the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and alleged involvement in deforestation in the Amazon.

Demonstrations were also organized abroad, local media reported on Saturday. In Sao Paulo, one of the most populous cities in the world, demonstrators flooded the streets. They carried huge banners reading “People Above Profit” and “Life, Bread, vaccine and education”.

Placards with signs demanding the impeachment of Brazil’s president, “For a Bolsonaro” (Bolsonaro Out), “Enough” and “Responsible or Useless” were also carried by the protesters. Many protesters came with handmade banners. Balloons and stickers were also handed out.

On Friday, the Supreme Court allowed for an investigation of Bolsonaro, among other senior officials, to be conducted, over alleged irregularities in a Covid-19 vaccine deal. While the authorities have been criticized for the slow vaccine rollout, new evidence emerged suggesting overpricing and corruption related to the purchase of several million doses from India.

Bolsonaro and other officials involved in the case deny any wrongdoing, saying the issue was in the hands of the minister of health at the time, who found nothing irregular regarding the contract. It has now been suspended pending the investigation.

Another scandal regarding the Amazon rainforests was also on the protesters’ agenda. Bolsonaro and his government are accused of involvement in illegal deforestation and other destructive activities in the rainforests.

The authorities, however, claim they are taking measures to protect the Amazon. Last month, troops were deployed to the rainforests at the order of the president, tasked to combat a surge in illegal logging.

The latest Brazilian protests have spread around the world, as people with anti-Bolsonaro banners also gathered in several European cities, including Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, and Paris. ‘Bolsonaro out’ was seen by thousands of spectators during the Tour de France, as it was written in chalk on the path of the cyclists.



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