- President Bolsonaro, unlike other leaders worldwide, has repeatedly ignored all kinds of restrictive measures to halt the spread of the pandemic.
- Both the disease and the lockdowns are having a devastating effect on the economy.
- Earlier, Bolsonaro had been warned to wear a mask or pay a fine.
Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has shocked many following his revelation that he may have contracted the coronavirus disease. In due course therefore, the head of state is scheduled to undergo another test for the COVID-19 disease. Bolsonaro previously tested negative twice.
President Bolsonaro, unlike other leaders worldwide, has repeatedly ignored all kinds of restrictive measures to halt the spread of the pandemic. While other leaders wrung their hands about the advancing pandemic, Bolsonaro did his best to temper the fear of the virus.
In one of his television speeches, the Brazillian president dismissed COVID-19 as “a flu, a little sniffle.” He even went ahead to call on his countrymen not to take restrictive regulations issued by governors of various federal states of the country seriously.
The South American head of state himself didn’t care about the dangers posed by the pandemic. He publicly shook hands with supporters, and took part in a demonstration against the Parliament, which did urge strict measures.
Disastrous, Disease, Disastrous Lockdowns
All restrictive measures— let alone a total lockdown— also have a disastrous effect on the Brazilian economy. The country has nearly 40 million self-employed workers, ranging from engineers to street vendors. They can hardly afford to sit at home and often lack a proper social safety net.
This certainly applies to the poorest of the poor, who have to live on less than a euro a day. Many workers have, therefore, expressed support for the President in recent weeks. Bolsonaro also has a political interest in ensuring that the Brazilian economy does not stagnate.
His promise of prosperity and progress was one of the main reasons for his election as president last year. Now he sees that promised growth is slowly slipping away, and he is doing everything he can to keep the economy going. His call to keep churches open was partly an attempt by the right-wing populist politician to satisfy his evangelical supporters.
It is not without reason either, because this autumn there will be midterm elections in Brazil, the first major electoral test for the head of state. Then, he has to work on his re-election. Seemingly, Bolsonaro only cares about his political survival, the risks posed by coronavirus notwithstanding.
In the past few days Bolsonaro had been warned by the federal judge of Brasilia, who had threatened to fine him with a penalty of about €350 if he refused to wear the protective mask in public. This was after having been seen participating in events in the previous days public without wearing one.
At the beginning of June, the Brazilian Supreme Court ordered the Bolsonaro government to restore the publication of statistical data relating to the coronavirus pandemic in the country. The office had removed that data by the will of Bolsonaro himself.
According to the latest bulletin from Johns Hopkins University, there are 1.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Brazil, a figure that makes it the second country in the world for infections. The death toll was also dramatic and, according to the latest data, it might have already exceeded 55,000.
The World Health Organization has meanwhile raised an alarm, reporting that the American subcontinent, as well as Africa, are rapidly turning into major outbreaks globally. We are actually witnessing a shift in the pandemic epicenter to the Americas. After the exponential increase in cases in Brazil, there has been a progressive increase in cases in the other countries of the region in recent weeks.