Defiant Bolsonaro takes virus message to the streets in Brazil

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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro went for a walk on Sunday, interacting with supporters and saying he would like to issue a decree so people can get back to work, according to local newspapers. His defiant tone shows no signs of abating despite widespread criticism, reports that his own government is mulling harsher containment measures and also a tense cabinet meeting. Brazil has 4,256 confirmed coronavirus cases and 136 deaths.

Twitter deleted two posts made by Bolsonaro this Sunday, according to newspapers. The posts were videos of Bolsonaro’s visits to stores in Brasilia. In the video, Bolsonaro cites the use of chloroquine for the treatment of the disease and defends the end of social distancing measures, says the Folha de S.Paulo. In a statement republished by the newspaper, Twitter said that it recently announced worldwide expansion of its rules on content that is against official public health information that could put people at greater risk of transmitting COVID-19. Bolsonaro said both unemployment and the fight against the virus “must be treated responsibly.”

On Saturday, the Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta presented possible virus scenarios to the president and several ministers. He called on Bolsonaro to create a favorable environment for unity between federal, state and local governments and also the private sector, according to Estado. The minister also asked the president not to underestimate the gravity of the situation in his public statements. Everyone present, including Mandetta himself, agreed with Bolsonaro’s concern to protect the economy as much as possible, as well as transport and infrastructure in general.

Bolsonaro was also warned that, if he tries to relax social isolation rules due to the new coronavirus with a “pen,” he will face a difficult battle in court, newspaper O Globo reported. According to the newspaper, the message was given in a meeting this Saturday attended by the Supreme Court Judge Gilmar Mendes, and several of Bolsonaro’s ministers.

Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said this weekend that around 500 billion reais ($97.5 billion) will be injected into the economy in the next three months, in reference to reserve requirements cuts and other measures.

“It is not a trivial number, it is huge”, Guedes said during conference call organized by XP Investimentos. He emphasized, however, that this is a “emergency moment; three, four months from now, when the wave passes, we will unlock investments and move forward with structural reforms.” Guedes said he didn’t consider leaving the government, especially at the present time, when he can help the country the most.

Guedes also said the government will roll over municipal and state government debt. In another meeting with mayors, Guedes said that the isolation period as a measure to combat the coronavirus pandemic can be maintained for two or three months, but that, after that period, it is necessary to release people to work at the risk of dismantling the country, according to Folha de S.Paulo.

The Supreme Court relaxed fiscal rules amid the advance of coronavirus after a request from the federal government, according to Valor Economico.


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