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People attend a protest to demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and against his handling of the coronavirus disease pandemic, at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 12, 2021. — Reuters pic
People attend a protest to demand the impeachment of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro and against his handling of the coronavirus disease pandemic, at Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, Brazil September 12, 2021. — Reuters pic

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RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 13 — Several hundred Brazilians protested against President Jair Bolsonaro and demanded his impeachment in Sunday demonstrations called by conservative groups, days after a massive mobilization supporting the country’s embattled far-right leader.

The street protests in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, among other cities, were convened by conservative-leaning social organisations like Movimento Brasil Livre (Free Brazil Movement, or MBL), which pressed for the impeachment of leftwing president Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

MBL now advocates a third way for Brazil’s 2022 presidential elections, under the slogan “Neither Bolsonaro nor Lula,” referring to the current president’s political nemesis Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Organisers expected large crowds, but without the support of groups like Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) the demonstrations were smaller than anticipated.

In Rio a few hundred demonstrators gathered early yesterday on Copacabana beach. Many wore white as a sign of political neutrality but waved Brazilian flags — often identified with the right — or the rainbow colours of the LGBT movement, or wore “Lula 2022” t-shirts.

A single message resounded through the crowd: “Out with Bolsonaro.”

Hundreds of white-clad protesters gathered in downtown Sao Paulo, the nation’s economic engine, for a rally that was dwarfed by the 125,000 Bolsonaro supporters who converged on the same streets last Tuesday.

“We don’t favour Lula or Bolsonaro here,” civil engineer Ivete Ramalho, age 64, told AFP.

“But I’m scared about how many people came out to support a president (Bolsonaro) who has done nothing for the country, who has only brought conflict.”

Almost a year out from the election, polls show Lula, a former union leader who served as president from 2003 to 2010, with a sizeable lead over the incumbent. — AFP

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