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Rule of LawBrazil

Thousands protest against Brazil's Bolsonaro

July 4, 2021

A new criminal investigation into Brazilian President Jair Bolsanoro's response to alleged corruption linked to a COVID-19 vaccine deal has sparked more protests against him.

Brasilien Proteste gegen Bolsonaro in Rio de Janeiro
Image: Nelson Antoine/dpa/AP/picture alliance

Thousands of demonstrators across Brazil took to the streets on Saturday to protest against President Jair Bolsonaro, who faces a new probe over an allegedly corrupt coronavirus vaccine deal.

Bolsonaro has long received criticism for downplaying the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed over 500,000 lives in Brazil.

The Brazilian government has come under pressure in recent months as it already confronts a parliamentary inquiry into its handling of the pandemic.

Demonstrators gathered in over 40 cities to demand Bolsonaro's impeachment and greater access to COVID-19 vaccines.

What is the new case against Bolsonaro?

On Friday, a Supreme Court justice authorized a criminal investigation into whether Bolsonaro had committed a crime by failing to denounce alleged corruption. 

Luis Ricardo Miranda, a Health Ministry official, said he faced pressure to sign off on importing 20 million doses of the jab developed by India's Bharat Biotech. 

Miranda told lawmakers he had communicated his suspicions about invoicing irregularities to Bolsanoro, who indicated that he would raise the issue with the federal police. He apparently did not. Bharat has denied any wrongdoing.

Luis Ricardo Miranda and lawmakers attend a meeting of the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee.
Miranda (L) testified before a Senate committee on June 25Image: Adriano Machado/REUTERS

Prosecutors are also investigating a businessman's claim that he was offered a bribe by a Health Ministry official while negotiating a vaccine purchase.

Bolsonaro has rejected all accusations of government corruption.

Senators quoted by the Associated Press said they would vote to recommend Bolsonaro be indicted for prevarication.

The crime carries a prison term of between three months and a year, plus payment of a fine.

How has Bolsanaro responded to the pandemic? 

The Brazilian president has been widely criticized for not taking up early offers to buy coronavirus vaccines and downplaying the severity of the virus despite being infected by it himself. 

Bolsonaro has opposed lockdown measures, social distancing and face masks.

He also voiced doubt over the ability of coronavirus vaccines to combat the pandemic.

fb/sms (AFP, AP)