After two months of strict restrictions, more and more people in Brazil are violating strict regulations. Especially in neighborhoods with bars and restaurants, where people are used to having fun, many of them are careless about the measures. But in slums, where the virus is most prevalent, people are genuinely worried.
The crisis has hit the poorest hard. They just can’t afford to stay home because they have to make a living. With more than 257,000 infected and nearly 17,000 dead, Brazil is already ahead of Britain. It is estimated that the actual number of victims is at least twice as high as officially announced, and those infected – up to 15 times more.
Bolsonaro: “It’s a mild flu”
But the official numbers are staggering enough: about 15,000 new infections and more than 800 deaths are reported every day. Footage of mass graves in Manau or Sao Paulo travels the world.
In all publications on the subject, President Jair Bolsonaro is present as a central figure, who does not seem to be particularly moved by the fact that many of his compatriots are dying in the epidemic.
Bolsonaro considers the virus a “mild flu” and blames China for the pandemic hysteria. He believes that Beijing wants to harm him. The Brazilian president deliberately ignored WHO and Brazilian health ministry instructions to keep his distance and demonstratively shook hands with his supporters, who go out in front of the presidential palace every Sunday to demand that the restrictions be lifted. In the country’s larger cities, his supporters are holding car marches. Their criticism is directed at the governors and mayors of the settlements, who keep closed those shops that do not sell basic necessities.
Bolsonaro urged his compatriots to banish the virus. Like Donald Trump, he is a supporter of chloroquine treatment and has even ordered military laboratories to start producing millions of malaria pills. So far, there is no scientific evidence that it also helps against Kovid-19. Quite the opposite even: doctors assume that in the last few weeks hundreds of Brazilians have died at home after self-medication with chloroquine.
The recession may even save Bolsonaro
Bolsonaro is determined to open almost all shops and restaurants to save the country’s economy. But he is handcuffed, as the issue of imposing restrictions or loosening them is the responsibility of local governments and mayors. And as hospitals in some regions of the country become overcrowded, local authorities are taking increasingly drastic measures. An evening was announced in some neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. The same measure is being prepared for the most populous state of Sao Paulo, which has already overtaken China in the number of victims.
The country is threatened by a recession that – ironically – could save Bolsonaro, whose rating has plummeted recently. And he will be able to do this easily if he manages to shift the blame for the current catastrophic situation in the country onto local governments.
Written by Thomas Milz