Politics, Americas, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

‘Bolsonaro must be impeached for virus mismanagement’

President's 'mismanagement' of COVID-19 crisis 'intensified' his crimes of 'irresponsibility': Brazilian anthropologist

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 30.03.2020
‘Bolsonaro must be impeached for virus mismanagement’


Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro "must be removed" from office after demonstrating "an alarming inability" amid coronavirus outbreak, a Brazilian anthropologist said on Monday.

Rosana Pinheiro-Machado claimed in an opinion piece penned for The Washington Post that Bolsonaro has "demonstrated an alarming inability to govern the country, undermining the pandemic and efforts to protect and save lives. And as a result of his irresponsible and divisive behavior, he has thrown Brazil into a deep crisis."

"He must be removed from office," Pinheiro-Machado, also a lecturer at the University of Bath in the U.K., said.

"Brazilians are feeling a lot of anxiety and can no longer bear this lack of leadership. For weeks, they have protested from their homes by banging saucepans and shouting 'Bolsonaro out' from their windows," she wrote.

"Support for his impeachment has risen drastically, according to Atlas Politico, with almost half of the population backing his removal."

Atlas Politico is a survey platform where Brazilians rank politicians.

Pinheiro-Machado accused the president of undermining the epidemic and reminded that he called self-isolation "mass confinement" and COVID-19 a "little cold", and that he also attended a rally and shook hands with supporters on March 15, and via social media and official channels he told his followers to attend a demonstration on March 25 in support of his administration.

She added that he has been "ignoring recommendations to practice social distancing" after members of his own staff tested positive for the virus.

Earlier March, Bolsonaro got tested for coronavirus and was under medical observation after his Press Secretary Fabio Wajngarten was diagnosed with the virus. The president tested negative for the epidemic.

"It's clear Bolsonaro has abandoned his duty to protect the population. He thinks the deadly virus is a media trick," she said, referring his remarks on Tuesday, where he says: "They spread the sensation of dread ... The perfect scenario to be used by the media to spread hysteria."

She stressed that the members of the National Congress from different parties have started calling for impeachment but there is no consensus among the opposition yet.

"On March 17, some members of Congress formally introduced an impeachment request signed by scientists, artists, activists and public intellectuals. Citizens and organized civil society have gotten behind the petition to impeach.

"Since then, close to 1 million people have signed it. It’s clear that, beyond any political calculation, allowing Bolsonaro to stay in power is unsustainable," Pinheiro-Machado said.

She noted that Bolsonaro has led Brazil by following "a fascist playbook, attacking the press and indigenous peoples, eroding human rights protections, and offering apologies for dictatorship and torture" since he elected in October 2018.

She added that "his mismanagement" of the coronavirus has only "intensified his crimes of irresponsibility".

The anthropologist underlined that impeachment of Bolsonaro can be "a difficult political and legal process" which needs both "deep political articulation, social legitimacy and a well-planned transition."

"Brazilians are now rejecting Bolsonaro's legitimacy. Our political leaders must move forward and vote to impeach him," she concluded.

In Brazil, 136 people have died from coronavirus, while confirmed cases topped 4,250 and six recoveries recorded so far, according to the data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 was first detected in Wuhan, China in December. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.

More than 34,000 people have died of the virus globally, with nearly 725,000 cases confirmed worldwide.

The data shows the virus has spread to 177 countries, and over 152,300 have recovered so far.

Despite the rising number of cases, most people who get infected suffer only mild symptoms and make a recovery.

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