Pro-Bolsonaro rallies held in Brazil to demonstrate the support right-wing president enjoys in the country

Brasília, May 2 2021: Thousands in Brazil ignored the threat from the corona virus and marched in support of far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, even as government opponents took their own protests online.

Demonstrators wore yellow blue and green colours of the Brazilian flag and led rallies in Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Brazil, with more than 403,000 Covid-19 deaths, is second only to the United States in that grim category, and Bolsonaro faces widespread criticism for not taking the pandemic more seriously.

In response to the deeply disturbing situation, the president said he was waiting for “a sign from the people” before “taking measures” to revoke restrictions imposed by mayors or governors to contain the spread of the virus. He also hinted at the role the army could play saying, “it could take to the street one day, to ensure respect for the Constitution (and for) freedom to come and go.”

Rallying along celebrated Copacabana beach, protesters waved banners demanding a “military intervention” to bolster Bolsonaro’s powers. A slogan widely seen at the various rallies was “Autoriso Bolsonaro” (“I authorize Bolsonaro”) to send in the army.

While in Brasilia, several thousand people assembled on the Esplanade of Ministries as Bolsonaro briefly passed overhead in a helicopter. One of his sons, the deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, waded into the crowd, his mask worn down around his chin, taking selfies with supporters, their faces also uncovered. Bolsonaro addressed the protesters via videoconference.

On the other hand, key opposition leaders, on the right and the left, were taking part in a trade union-sponsored event on social media critical of Bolsonaro. Among them were former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), who is expected to challenge Bolsonaro in next year’s elections, and his center-right predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002).

On Tuesday, a Senate commission of inquiry was established to examine the government’s handling of the health crisis, with many experts saying it has been incompetent and irresponsible.

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