Bolsonaro Threatens To Pull Brazil out of WHO, as Epidemic Explodes
June 6, 2020 (EIRNS)—Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denounced the World Health Organization as a “partisan political organization” yesterday, and announced that his government is looking into pulling out of the WHO, as President Donald Trump has done, if the WHO continues to act with alleged “ideological bias.”
Bolsonaro is not happy with WHO officials warning that Brazil’s loosening of quarantine measures, including in the COVID-19 epicenters of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, is dangerous for Ibero-America as a whole.
The epidemic in Brazil is not even close to being controlled. As of Friday, 645,000 cases and over 35,000 deaths were officially recognized, with new records still being set daily in both the transmission and death rates. Folha de São Paulo ran a front-page editorial that day (“A Ship Adrift”) on the new milestone reached: One Brazilian dies every minute of COVID-19. The government responded to the milestone by freezing the Health Ministry website which reports COVID-19 statistics over time and by state and municipality. “The cumulative data ... does not reflect the moment the country is in,” Bolsonaro tweeted.
Bolsonaro aggressively opposes public health measures against the coronavirus. He regularly appears personally (last Sunday on horseback) at demonstrations of supporters backing his attacks against the courts, governors, and health officials for imposing them. Some of these demonstrations are taking on the character of fascist shock-troops, such as hundreds carrying torches and chanting “freedom,” reminiscent of the early days of the 2014 Maidan demonstrations in Ukraine.
Confrontations could explode this Sunday between dueling pro-and anti-Bolsonaro demonstrations called simultaneously in numerous cities. This is the first big street demonstration called by opposition parties since the pandemic hit. The national Workers’ Party (PT) has taken the lead, joined by all the different shades of opposition parties. Fed in part by the mass protests in the United States, the rallying cry is to protest “against Bolsonaro, racism, and fascism.” Bolsonaro dismissed the opposition protestors as “delinquents, terrorists, potheads, and unemployed who don’t know what it is to work to earn your bread every day,” and promised to send out the federal troops if there is any trouble.
Leading opposition senators, however, led by PT leader and former cabinet minister Jacques Wagner, tried yesterday to call off the opposition demonstration, because of the health risk. “The country has not yet overcome the pandemic, which is now advancing toward ‘Brasil profundo’ (the Brazilian hinterland), going out from the capitals and worsening in the interior,” they warned.