Brazil new coronavirus hotspot

Jair Bolsonaro, the far-right Brazilian president, has repeatedly referred to Covid-19 as a "little flu" and described the pandemic as a "media trick". Now Brazil is considered the new hotspot, with more than 25,000 dead and almost 500,000 registered cases of infection. Commentators describe how Bolsonaro's populist policies are making the crisis even worse.

Open/close all quotes
Diário de Notícias (PT) /

More serious than all previous crises

Bernardo Ivo Cruz, researcher at the the Catholic University of Portugal's Institute of Political Studies, expresses concern:

“The current Brazilian crisis is perhaps more far-reaching and more serious than the previous ones, combining a frightening deterioration in the health, economic, social and political conditions with a growing lack of institutional legitimacy for the president. And the signs of unease at political, economic, social and even military institutions are becoming increasingly clear. The history of Brazilian democracy has been one of crisis and resilience, and the country's constitutional system has always found institutional responses that have made Brazil one of the most stable countries in Latin America. Let us hope that the current crisis will not be the exception.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Disaster could help Bolsonaro

A climate of fear will provide the perfect breeding ground for even more populism, the Financial Times fears:

“By encouraging his followers to flout the lockdowns and undermining his own ministers, Mr Bolsonaro is responsible for the chaotic response that has allowed the pandemic to get out of hand. ... In classic populist fashion he thrives on the politics of division. Brazil is already a deeply polarised country, where conspiracy theories are rife. The deaths and unemployment caused by Covid-19 are exacerbated by Mr Bolso­naro's leadership. But, perversely, a health and economic disaster could create an even more hospitable environment for the politics of fear and unreason.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Worse than in the US

Brazil has overtaken the US with its current infection and mortality rates, Gazeta Wyborcza comments:

“So far 23,473 people have died from coronavirus in Brazil and 375,000 have contracted the disease. The data shows that more people in Brazil are getting sick and dying per day than in the worst-affected regions in the United States. This has compelled President Donald Trump to ban anyone who has been to Brazil recently from entering the US. The ban is a severe blow to President Bolsonaro, who sees the American President as a role model and portrays him as Brazil's best friend and ally.”

El País (ES) /

The military is being given too much power

El País is alarmed by the way Brazil's democracy is being undermined:

“To prevent his deposition, Bolsonaro is handing out posts in exchange for parliamentary support while at the same time granting the military more power in his government. The military already heads ten of the 22 ministries, including the Ministry of Health. Even more worrying is that by remaining silent the president is tacitly supporting his followers who are calling for the closure of the parliament and the Supreme Court. And also the implied threats coming from his closest ministers. On three occasions in recent weeks, the Defence Minister has publicly stated that the armed forces back the constitution. In a stable democracy that should not be necessary.”