Citizens of Brazil have expressed anger at Jair Bolsonaro, their far-right president, for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, Brazil has 1,891 cases and 34 deaths. Over the past several nights, citizens have expressed their anger by banging pots and pans from their windows and balconies. It is the biggest protest against Bolsonaro to date.
The anger for Bolsonaro arose after he downplayed the importance of the crisis in the country, criticizing the governors of Rio de Janeiro and Sáo Paulo. By their efforts to contain the virus through quarantines, Bolsonaro claimed that the governors created a “climate of terror.” 3 Additionally, he claimed to have wanted to calm the Brazilian people and even stated, “We can’t let ourselves go into hysteria.” 2 This shows how Bolsonaro downplayed the dangers of the pandemic, fueling the anger of his citizens.
Furthermore, Bolsonaro met with supporters last Sunday, despite receiving medical advice to self-quarantine after traveling to the United States to meet Donald Trump. Bolsonaro was asked to self-quarantine since fourteen people who had traveled with him had tested positive for the virus. That night in response, while the crowds were protesting across the country, they shouted, “Bolsonaro out!” 2 Without understanding the dangers of COVID-19, many believe he is incapable to lead Brazil through a crisis that could kill many if there is no intervention. His presidency may be forever damaged by the way he is reacting to the pandemic.
I read three articles on this coverage, one from each The Guardian, BBC, and teleSUR. All three articles had similar coverage, but it is clear that the teleSUR and The Guardian articles have a stronger view against Bolsonaro. This can be seen in the titles, in which teleSUR includes Bolsonaro’s “incompetence” and The Guardian includes Bolsonaro’s “muddled coronavirus response.” On the contrary, BBC’s title mentions the COVID-19 protest with no mention of Bolsonaro. In addition, teleSUR and The Guardian highlight Bolsonaro’s reactions to the pandemic in more depth than BBC, representing stronger opinions against Bolsonaro.
In all three articles, it is clear that the media believes that Brazil is not equipped for the pandemic. The media highlights Bolsonaro’s lack of concern for the pandemic as the reason that Brazil could not withstand the effects of the rapidly evolving cases and rising death toll. By highlighting his “incompetence,” this shows the influence that the media has on how people view Bolsonaro, as well as Brazil as a whole with an incapable leader.
Bolsonaro has far-right political views, in which he joined the conservative Social Political Party when he was running for president. Strikingly, he made comments admiring the Brazilian Military Dictatorship before his presidency. This relates to the Reaction period, in which this dictatorship ruled from 1964-1980. According to an article from npr, Bolsonaro described this as a “very good period that stopped Brazil from falling under the sway of the Soviet Union.” 4 These comments concern Brazilians, in which they fear that he wants to take away the current democracy and turn it into a dictatorship. The way that Bolsonaro has handled the pandemic, along with these dangerous comments, could damage his presidency as more Brazilians gain distrust of him.
- Brazil: Protests Against Bolsonaro’s Incompetence over COVID-19. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/brazil-protests-against-bolsonaros- incompetence-at-covid19-20200323-0003.html
- Coronavirus protest in Brazil see millions bang pots from balconies. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-51955679
- Phillips, T. Brazilians
protest over Bolsonaro’s muddled coronavirus response. Accessed
March 23, 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/22/brazilians- protest-bolsonaro-coronavirus-panelaco
- Reeves, P. Dictatorship Was A ‘Very Good’ Period, Says Brazil’s Aspiring President. Accessed March 23, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2018/07/30/631952886/dictatorship-was-a-very-good- period-says-brazil-s-aspiring-president