Brazil
"Bolsonaro's management of the pandemic will lead to genocide"
Brazil's former health minister Humberto Costa analyzed the country's health crisis for LPO, with the situation in Manaus being its most dramatic chapter.

The health collapse in Manaus exposed the lack of a plan by Bolsonaro's government to address the pandemic, possibly accelerating a second wave of Covid-19 and exacerbating a social crisis that has already impacted the lives of 14 million people who are currently unemployed.

True to his style, Bolsonaro ignored the health disaster in the capital of the state of Amazonas - while entire wards of Covid-19 patients died from lack of oxygen - and avoided taking responsibility, despite being alerted of the possible consequences.

But this time he failed. The anger caused by the obvious abandonment by the State transcended opposition borders to reach old allies of the president, both in the business world and in politics, as well as the media.

[Manaus health was seen collapsing with patients fighting over oxygen tubes]

LPO spoke with former health minister and current Senator Humberto Costa. "What is taking place is one of many omissions of Bolsonaro's government, denying the pandemic and constantly working against the population with his 'ordinary flu' thesis," he said.

Lula's former government official said that "there is a complete lack of coordination in the fight against the pandemic," and added that "Brazil has a universal and free health system that reaches all the municipalities of the country, but needs the coordination of the federal government to carry out work," he explained.

"Bolsonaro's government is omissive and criminal and is leading us to an actual genocide. He ignores completely what is going on in the country. He is incompetent and indifferent to the suffering of his fellow Brazilians."

Humberto Costa, Brazil's former health minister

Costa added that "Bolsonaro works constantly in favor of the virus" and recalled that "we knew that without social distancing measures we would again have a very serious situation in Amazonas and especially in Manaus. Two weeks ago a (lockdown) order was imposed by the governor of the state and the mayor, but business owners became mobilized with the support of Bolsonaro, as well as his adult children and the Justice system to prevent it from taking place. This situation is a consequence of the absence of state policies," he added.

"Bolsonaro's government is omissive and criminal and is leading us to an actual genocide. He ignores completely what is going on in the Country. He is incompetent and indifferent to the suffering of his fellow Brazilians," the Brazilian senator added.

Manaus Cemetery reached capacity due to the death toll from the Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the representative for the state of Amazonas, José Ricardo, told LPO that what is going on in Manaus "is a calamity and total irresponsibility of the federal, state and municipal governments. They already knew that the curve had been growing since September and there was no adequate prevention, planning and guidance to protect the population."

"We are in a pandemic year and there are no reliable statistics, there is no clear action plan, no transparency in the use of resources; it's a disaster. In addition, Bolsonaro sent his health minister to Manaus and did nothing. We have the impression that the government is lost due to technical or political incompetence. It shows a complete disdain for the population," he added.

"We have the impression that the government is lost due to technical or political incompetence. It shows a complete disdain for the population."

The PT (Worker's Party) representative noted that "there are impacts on people's lives and the economy. The biggest loss is that the world is becoming aware of the (political) inability of the Brazilian president and the legal uncertainty left by his government. There will be decades of retrogression in the economy due to Bolsonaro's disastrous decisions as well as deep-rooted effects in this society that can clearly perceive the current mismanagement issues." he said.

Regarding health management, the legislator said: "It is disgraceful; just look at the number of ministers that have been active in the ministry and their profile. They are either linked to the military or advocate for the privatization of the Universal Health System (SUS)."

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Both Costa and Ricardo agree that Brazil is likely to face a second wave before the end of the first wave. In addition, Sao Paulo-based Union leader Joao Cayres told LPO that he believes that the social situation is likely to become explosive as well.

"We are concerned because we have a 14-percent unemployment rate and a huge number of persons have stopped looking for work, which can lead to a crisis," former Minister Costa said. "The lack of emergency care amid a high unemployment rate could lead to a social turmoil. Bolsonaro's voters are realizing who he really is and what he represents," added the representative from Amazonas.

The total collapse of the public health system of Manaus, which ran out of oxygen, forced residents to go out and purchase it wherever they could find it available.

The crisis in Manaus depicted the erratic health management and planning efforts by Bolsonaro regarding the state's issues with the lack of oxygen when the Air Liquide, which according to local reports is the most important Latin American provider of gas, technologies and services for the Industrial and Medical segments in Brazil, and White Martins, the largest provider in the sector, alerted the federal government to the lack of respirators in the capital of Amazonas.

The Government of the State of Amazonas has its share of responsibility as well, since it deactivated 85 percent of the intensive care unit beds between July and October last year, forecasting a drop in the number of cases, However, according to daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the state alerted military Health Minister Eduardo Pazzuello of the severity of the situation, but officials in Brasilia ignored their alerts.

Nevertheless, the opposition got together to create an investigative commission and plans to make a new impeachment request in a key year for the internal distribution of power (with Congress set to resume work in February), which can define the 2022 presidential election.

Bolsonaro has shown an ability to survive in difficult times, but "pot-banging" protests have begun to be staged in major cities, while the images of patients fighting over oxygen tubes will not be easily erased. Going forward, we will need to see if social pressure will be able to change the alliance system in place for the year that now begins. 

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