Conflict Alerts # 444, 7 October 2021
Brazil: Anti-Bolsonaro protests across the country
In the news
On 2 October, thousands of Brazilians gathered across Brazil to protest against President Bolsonaro. The protests were peaceful, displaying messages on posters and inflatable gas canisters. The protests spanned across more than two hundred Brazilian cities, including Sao Paulo and Rio De Janeiro. The protestors highlighted their unhappiness over the handling of the pandemic, dwindling economic opportunities and called for the impeachment of President Bolsonaro.
Issues at large
First, the pandemic mishandling. Brazil has lost over 600,000 lives during the pandemic, the second-highest death toll after the US. Bolsonaro has been accused of promoting crowds at the height of the pandemic's destructive waves, discouraging the use of masks and other COVID-appropriate behaviour, and not taking adequate steps to ramp up the health sector.
Second, Brazil's spiralling economic woes. The pandemic disrupted the economy; high inflation has made the situation worse. It has impacted the prices of essential goods such as food, electricity and fuel. Unemployment has drastically increased, thus leading to massive poverty and starvation.
Third, the fallouts of pro-Bolsonaro rallies. On Brazil's independence day, pro-Bolsonaro rallies were organized to mobilize in supporters. Recent polls indicate Bolsonaro trailing his leftist opponent Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva. The ongoing anti-Bolsonaro protests are a direct response to the rallies held a month back, expressing the general discontent and opposition of the citizens.
Fourth, the growing discontent against Bolsonaro outside the streets. He has been candid about his disregard for other political institutions of the State, particularly the judiciary. Recently, the Brazilian supreme court has approved several investigations against Bolsonaro. More than a hundred requests have been lodged with the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies to impeach the President.
The protests against Bolsanaro are gathering momentum. This could force the right-wing lawmakers in the lower house to support the impeachment of Bolsonaro. However, the opposition is not united. There is a marked hesitancy in the right-wing parties joining the ongoing protests and in the predominantly leftist protesters accepting them into their united front. There is also a silence from the Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL, Free Brazil Movement), which was advocating a third way from Bolsonaro and Lula Da Silva in the protests held in September. Second, the protests indicate a possible change in the upcoming presidential elections in Brazil in 2022. The protests could also unite the heterogenous population of Brazil such as the indigenous communities and ordinary citizens.