- It is alleged that the public funds meant for the fight against coronavirus in the state were embezzled.
- Last week, Rio de Janeiro’s Health Secretary Edmar Santos was dismissed for corruption allegations.
- Critics have said that Bolsonaro sees Witzel as a political rival.
The Brazilian federal police raided the residences of the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel on Tuesday. The police searched both the governor’s official residence and his personal home, but no arrest warrants were issued. The police said it was part of a COVID-19 corruption probe.
Federal police added that they had search warrants to that effect, and the search warrants were issued by the country’s second highest court. It is alleged that the public funds meant for the fight against coronavirus in the state were embezzled. The police said that the investigations point at irregularities in the awarding of contracts in the construction of the emergency field hospitals in the state.
Last week, Rio de Janeiro’s Health Secretary Edmar Santos was dismissed for corruption allegations. He was linked to a scheme to defraud the state through the purchase of ventilators. Four other people were also arrested.
However, the Governor said that he was innocent, and accused the President, Jair Bolsonaro, of interfering in the investigations. The governor is a former ally turned foe of the President. In recent days, the two have rubbed shoulders over the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Critics have said that Bolsonaro sees Witzel as a political rival.
Brazil has become a major hotspot for the coronavirus cases. It currently has the second-highest caseload in the world after the US. The US leads the world in coronavirus cases with over 1.6 million cases. The South American country has recorded more than 370,000 cases with 23,522 deaths.
The President has brushed shoulders with governors and mayors over the lockdown measures, and their relationship has grown extremely bitter. He has continually called for lockdown measures to be scrapped, so as to revive the country’s economy, despite the worrying situation. Most states in the country are in some sort of lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
The cases in Rio de Janeiro, the second most populous city in the country, have also accelerated. The state has recorded over 37,00 confirmed cases. The hardest hit areas are the Favelas, an informal settlement that hosts thousands of the poor people. Social distancing measures are hard to observe in the area.
The residents also suffer water shortage, a situation that complicates the fight against the pandemic. Sao Paulo State, the country’s biggest city and economic hub, has been hardest hit by the virus.
Bolsonaro has widely been criticized for his poor handling of the coronavirus crisis in his country. He has done little to fight the virus, and has called it a “little flu.” He said that Brazilians were immune to the virus, and because they had already been infected, they had antibodies that could fight the virus. Despite this, the numbers of infections continue to rise.
The president has always been against the quarantine and stay at home measures, and has dismissed the fact that social distancing could flatten the curve. He has repeatedly advocated for the use of chloroquine to remedy the virus despite the warnings from the experts.