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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a flag raising ceremony outside Alvorada palace, the presidential residence Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, front left, attends a flag raising ceremony outside Alvorada palace, the presidential residence in Brasilia, Brazil, May 12, 2020 (AP photo by Eraldo Peres).

Can Brazil Survive Bolsonaro’s Disastrous COVID-19 Response?

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“Perhaps the biggest threat to Brazil’s COVID-19 response is its president, Jair Bolsonaro,” says The Lancet, a British medical journal. Bolsonaro famously referred to COVID-19 as a “measly cold” and continues to openly flout and actively discourage the life-saving restrictions on movement and physical distancing that have become commonplace around the world.

But Bolsonaro’s callous disregard for the suffering of his own citizens is not the only scandal dogging him. On April 24, one the star members of his right-wing government, Justice Minister Sergio Moro, resigned in protest over Bolsonaro’s firing of the national police chief. The Lancet’s editorial also took note of this episode, calling it “a deadly distraction in the middle of a public health emergency and a stark sign that Brazil's leadership has lost its moral compass, if it ever had one.”

For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman discusses the latest developments in Brazil with Christopher Sabatini, senior research fellow for Latin America at Chatham House. He is also the founder and former editor of Americas Quarterly, former director of Global Americans and a contributor to WPR.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Brazil’s Bolsonaro Is Writing His Political Obituary With COVID-19
In Brazil, Dictatorship-Era Wounds Never Really Healed. Then Came Bolsonaro
To Save the Amazon, Treat It Like a UNESCO World Heritage Site
‘Existence Itself Is a Battle’: Indigenous Brazilians Live in Fear Under Temer

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Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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