Brazil: Thousands of Jair Bolsonaro supporters take to the streets | News | DW | 27.05.2019
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Brazil: Thousands of Jair Bolsonaro supporters take to the streets

Thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in cities around the country to show their support for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. The president has seen his popularity plummet since taking office in January.

Brazilians gathered in cities on Sunday to show their support for far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and to protest against lawmakers whom they see as putting up roadblocks to the leader's legislative agenda.

Official estimates on crowd size were yet to be released, but they appeared smaller than the May 15 protests against Bolsonaro. At that time, rallies against his government's planned spending freeze on education  sent tens of thousands of protesters onto the streets in about 200 cities, the largest protests in Brazil since Bolsonaro took office.

On Sunday, there were pro-government rallies in 52 cities, according to news website G1.

Bolsonaro won election easily last November, but since taking office on January 1 his popularity has plummeted in several polls. A survey released on Friday showed more Brazilians disapprove of his government than approve of it, a surprisingly quick erosion of popularity.

Bolsonaro stays away

Those in the streets on Sunday argued that Brazil's corrupt political system has not allowed Bolsonaro to push through his legislative agenda and make progress in critical areas like security, education and the economy.

The protesters say that Bolsonaro is standing by his core pledge to not engage in the traditional political horse trading in Brasilia that is largely blamed for stunning levels of corruption in the nation's political class.

Bolsonaro initially considered participating in the demonstrations, but later decided not to and recommended the government's ministers not join. Demonstrators gathered in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia.

Brazilian demonstration in Sao Paulo (AFP/N. Almeida)

A supporter of Bolsonaro holds a banner reading 'President, we are with you' in Sao Paulo

Corruption rampant

In Rio de Janeiro, most demonstrators in the famous Copacabana Beach neighborhood wore Brazil soccer team t-shirts and protested against Lower House speaker Rodrigo Maia and the Supreme Court.

"I have voted years for the left, but I am now worried about the future of the country. I hope the demonstrations influence Congress," said protester Carley Farias.

Demonstrators brought an inflatable doll of Maia with logos of companies accused of paying him bribes, alongside an inflatable doll of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva dressed in a striped jail suit, known as "Pixuleco."

"Maia needs to wake up and help the country," Jose Antonio de Souza told Reuters while demonstrating in Copacabana.

Brazilian demonstrator holding a sign R. Maia (DW/Y. Boechat)

Lower house speaker Rodrigo Maia is seen as slowing down Bolsonaro's agenda

President promises turnaround

Speaking at a church in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday, Bolsonaro said the demonstrations were a response "to those that insist on keeping old practices and do not allow the people to be free."

Bolsonaro promised voters that he would secure an economic turnaround in part by reforming the pension system, that he would greatly improve Brazil's precarious security situation, and would end rampant corruption that has ensnared the country's political and business elites in unprecedented anti-graft investigations during the past five years.

While those are ambitious goals that will take time to make progress on, many of those who voted for Bolsonaro have grown frustrated with what are seen as the unnecessary and incendiary tweets he and his politician sons send out daily, The infighting between the military and far-right ideologue wings of his government is also blamed for the few concrete accomplishments his team has made.

"Most demonstrators on the streets were asking for legitimate and democratic measures, but there are still people trying to distort the facts," Bolsonaro tweeted on Sunday afternoon.

av/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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