SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Protesters took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Saturday to demand the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose popularity has fallen in recent weeks amid corruption scandals against the backdrop of the pandemic.
This week, news broke that Brazil’s defense ministry told congressional leadership that next year’s elections would not take place without amending the country’s electronic voting system to include a paper trail of each vote.
Bolsonaro has suggested several times without evidence that the current system is prone to fraud, allegations that Brazil’s government has denied.
Bolsonaro is facing reelection next year, in a race in which he is likely to face his political nemesis, former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Polls currently show Bolsonaro losing against Lula.
Saturday’s protests were at least the second time this month that Brazilians have taken to the streets in several cities to oppose Bolsonaro.
“I’m here because it is time to react to the genocidal government that we have, that has taken over our country,” said Marcos Kirst, a protester in Sao Paulo.
Over 500,000 Brazilians have died of COVID-19 under Bolsonaro’s leadership, who has been widely criticized for dismissing the severity of the disease and opposing masks and social distancing measures.
Bolsonaro is now being investigated in the Senate, which is probing the possibility of corruption tied to the purchase of an Indian coronavirus vaccine.
In Sao Paulo’s Paulista Avenue, the traditional location for political protests, over a thousand people were gathering as of 4 p.m. Saturday.
Bolsonaro was in Brasilia, the capital, on Saturday and went out for a motorcycle ride while greeting supporters.
(Reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun; Additional reporting by Pedro Fonseca; Editing by Leslie Adler)