Contrary to the guidelines of the WHO, Bolsonaro has been advocating a relaxation of social isolation in Brazil in order to minimize the economic impacts of the coronavirus.
By Paul Antonopoulos
Published on AHTribune, Apr 10, 2020
There is little doubt that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro completely underestimated the coronavirus pandemic. It is a well-known fact that Bolsonaro idolizes U.S. President Donald Trump and followed in his path in playing down the severity of coronavirus. As Trump doggedly refused to lockdown the U.S., saying that we do not stop driving because of car deaths, Bolsonaro called coronavirus a “fantasy” and a “minor flu.” What has transpired in the U.S. since then? There are now over 460,000 cases and 16,500 deaths, while in Brazil there are 16,000 confirmed cases, 75,000 suspected cases and 800 deaths. Not even remotely close to a “minor flu.”
Contrary to the guidelines of the World Health Organization, Bolsonaro has been advocating a relaxation of social isolation in Brazil in order to minimize the economic impacts of the coronavirus. This position, however, has been the target of harsh criticism inside and outside the country, considered by many to be an irresponsible attitude by the Brazilian head of state – and most surprisingly, the criticism is coming strongly from the military that is overwhelmingly right-wing like Bolsonaro.
When Bolsonaro, a former military Captain, burst onto the scene as a Brazilian presidential candidate, he was a champion of the military and praised the dictatorship era. He found himself popular with the military and police for his conservative ideology, love for Israel and anti-socialist outbursts. His running mate Hamilton Mourão was a General, many steps higher than Bolsonaro in the military hierarchy.
With state governors and mayors ignoring Bolsonaro’s calls to pretend coronavirus does not exist and open up the economy, the Brazilian president found himself in a difficult position as he could not find support from most of his own party, let alone those from others. However, the once unthinkable has been happening, Bolsonaro’s beloved military is now turning against him.
Representatives of the Armed Forces held meetings in the capital city of Brasília to discuss medium and long-term scenarios about the removal of the president and replace him with the former General. At the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro’s allies were silent about his lackluster seriousness to the coronavirus, but one dissident voice changed everything.
“The position of our government, for the time being, is one: isolation and social distance,” said Mourão, contradictingBolsonaro’s call to open the economy.
From then on, the military began to express discomfort with the confrontational tactic adopted by Bolsonaro by disqualifying measures announced by governors to prevent contagion by the coronavirus.
This is not the first time Mourão has been the voice of reason. Eduardo Bolsonaro and Chinese ambassador Yang Wanmingengaged in a war of words when the president’s son accused China, via Twitter, of causing the spread of the coronavirus and that China has no freedoms – of course, this came from someone who idolizes apartheid Israel where Palestinians have no freedom. Mourão relaxed tensions between Brazil and China by saying “It is not the government’s opinion.”
Mourão is presenting himself as a capable leader of Brazil at a time when the country is being devasted by the coronavirus and Bolsonaro is only worried about opening up businesses and allowing his son to engage in a war of words with China. The military is responding positively to Mourão and has effectively set aside Bolsonaro as their figurehead.
With coronavirus impacting Brazil and Bolsonaro refusing to take responsibility for the uncontrollable situation, he attempted to dismiss the Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who has become immensely popular and actively speaks out against Bolsonaro’s policies and ideas on how to deal with coronavirus. However, Bolsonaro was once again “convinced” by the military that the best decision would be to keep the minister for the time being, which the president unwillingly adhered too.
One day after Bolsonaro failed in his attempt to dismiss Mandetta because of the military’s intervention, Bolsonaro disappeared. He did not appear at the gates of Palácio da Alvorada, the official residence of the Brazilian president, and he missed the press conference on emergency aid and began acting as a chloroquine lobbyist.
Of course, this was Bolsonaro once again demonstrating that he is not capable of leading Latin America’s most important country as he acts like a child, so to speak, when he does not get his way. This only strengthens the case for Mourão to be president. Although Bolsonaro’s supporters still loyally follow him, among his fringe supporters, he has lost legitimacy. The Brazilian military has noticed this and is now preparing the way for Mourão to take over the leadership of the country.
Although Mourão, an indigenous Brazililan, has a history of racist outbursts, since ascending to the vice presidency, he has proven time and again to be a far more capable and mature leader than Bolsonaro and often acts as a mediator to soften the tensions between the president and whoever his new enemy of the day is. With the military moving away from Bolsonaro and backing Mourão, the question becomes whether the vice president will become president by legal or illegal means. Brazil has a history of coups and as the country descends into further chaos as Bolsonaro closes his eyes to the dangers of coronavirus, there is every possibility that he may be ousted from the presidency.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.