When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

EL ESPECTADOR

Bolsonaro, The Political Cost Of Downplaying Coronavirus

The Brazilian president may be risking his political future by taking the viral pandemic lightly.

Bolsonaro is virtually the only world leader still downplaying COVID-19
Bolsonaro is virtually the only world leader still downplaying COVID-19
Beatriz Miranda

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said in one of his more controversial declarations, going against World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, that he was asking state governors to end the quarantine regime and closure of schools and shops to "minimize the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic." This is at a time when virtually every other national and regional government is asking their citizens to keep themselves isolated.

The president said there was no reason for confining the entire population as older people were the ones particularly at risk from the coronavirus. The virus, he said in typical fashion, would cause no more than a "slight flu," and Brazil"s warm climate and youthful population protected it against the pandemic. Bolsonaro then blamed the media for whipping up collective hysteria among a traumatized population.

The 65-year-old leader appears to give scant importance to the Brazilian health ministry's recent report, which counted more than 4,250 registered infections in the country by March 29, with 136 deaths that day or 22 more than the day before. Any government might reasonably act with speed and efficacy before the disturbing scenario.

The aim was to get Brazilians outside risk groups to come out of confinement.

People were quick to react, banging pots and pans on their balconies in Rio de Janiero and Sao Paulo. Parliamentarians and jurists made declarations, and seven former health ministers publicly rejected Bolsonaro's statements. There are three great enemies in the country right now, they stated in a communiqué: "the health emergency, economic measures to reduce the pandemic's impact mainly on the poor, and Bolsonaro himself. Beside these two fronts, which are a challenge in themselves, we have to try and neutralize all the time, the brutality of the president and some of his supporters." The country's National Council of Education Secretaries (CONSED) stated it would maintain the recommendation of state governors on suspending classes in school.

If that were not enough, the president used government facilities and spent 4.8 million reals ($913,000 euros) to publicize the slogan Brazil Cannot Stop. Health and Dignity, Brazil Definitely Cannot Stop. Its aim was to get Brazilians outside risk groups to come out of confinement.

A judge has ordered the government to "abstain" from promoting slogans contrary to the restrictive measures governors have imposed. The country's division is more than evident. Will Bolsonaro's mismanagement of the pandemic mean the beginning of the end of his political career?

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ