With some 7,000 cases and 200 deaths, Brazil has more coronavirus infections than any other country in Latin America. The country’s health minister warns the healthcare system could be overwhelmed by the end of April.
Yet, President Jair Bolsonaro has been downplaying the pandemic. He has referred to the virus as a “little flu” and “hysteria” and even visited a busy market outside the country’s capital, Brasília, in a bid to get people back to work.
Brazilian Congresswoman Tabata Amaral accused Bolsonaro of lying and using social media to spread fake news.
“By doing those things, and by telling people to go to their streets, and actually going himself to greet the crowds, which he did last weekend, he’s putting lives in danger,” Amaral said.
“I’m very ashamed by all of the things he is doing, especially in moments of crisis, we need a leader who tells people everything will be all right,” she added.
In March, Bolsonaro visited the United States for a meeting with President Donald Trump. When he returned to Brazil, more than 20 members of his delegation tested positive for the virus. Bolsonaro says he tested negative for COVID-19, but speculation continues in Brazil that he may have the virus.
“He is not someone known for telling the truth, and he hasn’t been, he hasn’t shown his test … But the bigger point is that he is being extremely irresponsible,” Amaral said.
A movement is growing inside Brazil calling for Bolsonaro’s impeachment, but Amaral stopped short of supporting it at this time.
“I do think he should be held accountable for everything he’s doing – but after the crisis. I don’t think my country can handle another crisis on top of coronavirus right now,” Amaral said.
President Trump has employed rhetoric similar to the claims made by the Brazilian president. Like Bolsonaro, Trump has dismissed fears about the virus, saying it would “go away” and describing it as a political “hoax”.
But Amaral says while Bolsonaro is a fan of Trump, the two leaders’ response to the virus differs.
“President Trump is more pragmatic. When he saw all of the people who were dying in the US, when he saw all of what that meant to his popularity, to the economy, he changed his attitude, and Bolsonaro is not changing the attitude,” Amaral said.
In this week’s Special Interview, we discuss Jair Bolsonaro’s defiance in the face of the coronavirus with Brazilian Congresswoman Tabata Amaral.
Source: Al Jazeera