Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Demonstrators hold signs that read in Portuguese, 'Impeachment now! Bolsonaro in prison' during a protest against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 19, 2021.

Marcelo Chello/The Associated Press

Thousands took to the streets across Brazil on Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response, blasting the leader for not acquiring vaccines fast enough and for questioning the need for mask-wearing.

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

The government faces fierce criticism for passing up early opportunities to buy vaccines. Pharmaceutical maker Pfizer said it got no response to offers to sell vaccines to the government between August and November last year.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are protesting against the genocidal Bolsonaro government that did not buy vaccines and has done nothing to take care of its people in the last year,” said 36-year-old Aline Rabelo, while protesting on the national mall in Brasilia.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s press office did not respond to request for comment. Only 11 per cent of Brazilians are fully vaccinated and 29 per cent have received a first dose, Health Ministry data shows.

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

Many demonstrators called the 500,000 dead a form of genocide carried out by the government on the Brazilian people. They chanted, beat drums and held up signs demanding Mr. Bolsonaro be removed for office.

“Half a million reasons to oust Mr. Bolsonaro,” read one protestor’s sign in downtown Sao Paulo.

While organizers promised the largest demonstrations yet in more than 300 cities, gatherings in Rio de Janeiro and Brasilia on Saturday morning did not appear to be larger than the last major protests on May 29.

Protests in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and financial center, blocked major downtown thoroughfares, where protesters unfurled a banner the size of a city block demanding “Life, Bread, Vaccines and Education.” It was unclear how the crowd compared to May 29 protest there.

Story continues below advertisement

A special Senate committee is probing the Bolsonaro administration’s pandemic response, highlighting delayed efforts to acquire vaccines while prioritizing unproven treatments for COVID-19.

Last month, a poll showed Mr. Bolsonaro’s popularity has sunk to new lows with only 24 per cent of Brazilians saying his administration is “good” or “great.” The same poll showed Mr. Bolsonaro’s left-wing rival, former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, would win in a runoff vote if the 2022 elections were held today.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies