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Bolsonaro Says Taking Anti-COVID-19 Measures is a Crime

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The stupid, it burns. Brazil’s president is warning state governors that if they take aggressive measures to contain the coronavirus, they will be committing a crime:

AP: Brazil’s Bolsonaro makes life-or-death coronavirus gamble

[Brazilian President Jair] Bolsonaro says his response to the disease matches that of President Donald Trump in the U.S., but the Brazilian leader has gone further, labeling the virus as “a little flu” and saying state governors’ aggressive measures to halt the disease were crimes. [emphasis added]

Actually, his response goes way beyond Trump’s in callousness and stupidity, but don’t tell that to Trump, because he can’t stand being second-worst.

Still, for now, at least, Bolsonaro manages to outdo Trump in both categories, hard as it may be to believe:

On Thursday, Bolsonaro told reporters in the capital, Brasilia, that he feels Brazilians’ natural immunity will protect the nation.

“The Brazilian needs to be studied. He doesn’t catch anything. You see a guy jumping into sewage, diving in, right? Nothing happens to him. I think a lot of people were already infected in Brazil, weeks or months ago, and they already have the antibodies that help it not proliferate,” Bolsonaro said. “I’m hopeful that’s really a reality.”

This is basically a political calculation; Bolsonaro faces re-election, but not for another 2 ½ years, and he’s gambling that Brazilians will not die in large numbers and will remember economic disruption more than the death total. Also, he’s looking to hamstring his potential competition:

The governors of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the states hardest hit by the virus, have banned public gatherings, closed schools and businesses and called for strict social distancing. Both are Bolsonaro critics and possible contenders in the 2022 presidential race. They also have backup: 25 of Brazil’s 27 governors signed a joint letter this week begging Bolsonaro to back strict anti-virus measures.

He’s said this before. From March 25:

“Other viruses have killed many more than this one and there wasn’t all this commotion,” Bolsonaro told journalists. “What a few mayors and governors are doing is a crime. They’re destroying Brazil.”…

It’s always possible that his use of “crimes” is rhetorical overkill. But this is a wanna-be autocrat who has taken Trump’s example and expanded on it. And he has (or claims) the power to decide what is a crime.

Even governors who had been Bolsonaro allies broke with him on this:

The comments stunned state governors – many of whom are now in open revolt against the president.

“I was gobsmacked,” said Ronaldo Caiado, the rightwing governor of Goiás state and a former Bolsonaro ally. . . .

“It’s appalling. You cannot govern a country like this,” added Caiado, who this week severed ties with Bolsonaro. “At a moment like this he should have the humility to leave things to those who understand them.”…

Aren’t you glad we have Trump instead of Bolsonaro?

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