In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, everyone else is to blame for virus

In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, everyone else is to blame for virus, by David Biller at AP.

With Brazil emerging as one of the world’s most infected countries, President Jair Bolsonaro is deflecting all responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, casting blame on mayors, governors, an outgoing health minister and the media.

Some hopeful signs emerging in the last week

By contrast, he portrays himself as a clear-eyed crusader willing to defend an unpopular idea — that shutting down the economy to control COVID-19 will ultimately cause more suffering than allowing the disease to run its course. The refusal of governors to fall into line with his decree allowing gyms to open, he said, verged on authoritarianism. …

When governors defied Bolsonaro’s subsequent decree that gyms, barbershops and beauty salons be allowed to operate as essential services, he accused them of undermining the rule of law and suggested the move would invite “undesirable authoritarianism to emerge in Brazil.”

On Saturday night, Bolsonaro ventured into the capital of Brasilia to lead by example, this time eating a hot dog bought from a street vendor. Video he posted to Facebook showed supporters snapping selfies and calling him by his nickname — “Myth!” — while those in self-quarantine in overlooking apartments banged pots and pans in protest. …

In the capital on Sunday, pro-Bolsonaro supporters staged a small demonstration in front of the presidential palace, as they have for several weeks. Bolsonaro joined and once again lifted children in his arms.

He shared a video from a helicopter flyover of the demonstration that revealed a sparsely occupied plaza. There were perhaps 1,000 people in attendance, in a city of 3 million. One banner read “Lockdowns kill more than the Chinese virus!!!” …

A May 17-18 poll by XP/Ipespe found 58% of those surveyed rated Bolsonaro’s pandemic response as bad or terrible, and only 21% as good or excellent. Governors fared more than twice as well in both counts. …

Latin America’s largest nation has confirmed about 375,000 COVID-19 cases, more than any nation except the U.S., and experts say that figure is a significant undercount due to insufficient testing. The strain on Brazil’s underfunded hospitals has pushed them to the brink of collapse in multiple states and prevents some patients from getting treatment.