WWhen President Jair Bolsonaro goes public these days, the Brazilians grab their pans and wooden spoons and step to the window to protest loudly. On Tuesday evening, there was another clash in Brazil’s metropolises, while the president spoke on all channels about the corona crisis. “Our life has to go on. We have to go back to normal, ”said Bolsonaro. Once again, he compared the coronavirus to a “flu” that only affected people over the age of 60. “So why close the schools?”
The number of infected people in Brazil is still comparatively low. On Tuesday it was just over two thousand. About fifty people have died from the effects of the virus. However, experts expect a steep increase in the coming days. Brazil’s health minister expects the healthcare system to collapse by the end of April. While Bolsonaro is largely unaffected by the pandemic, various governors have responded. A quarantine has been in effect in the economic metropolis of São Paulo since Tuesday. Football stadiums and exhibition centers are being turned into temporary hospitals. 22 of the 27 governors are now coordinating and bypassing Brasília. The President is now sharply attacking them. The governors and mayors should abandon “the scorched earth concept,” said Bolsonaro. He attacked the media again.
Criticism of the President comes from all sides – even from the right. The country needs a serious and responsible leader who takes care of the life and health of the population, said the President of the Senate. The government also seems divided. Bolsonaro is said to have asked Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who is considered to be very competent, several times to adhere to his political line. The media are already speculating about Mandetta’s resignation. The unpredictable behavior of the president apparently also causes unrest in the military.
Some observers see a calculation behind Bolsonaro’s systematic downplaying of the pandemic and the attacks on governors and the media: he wants to focus on the economic consequences of a shutdown and then hold others responsible. This argument could catch on, even if, thanks to the drastic measures taken by the governors, it was possible to keep the number of infections low and thus save lives.