In the first public demonstration by a member of the government after the country surpassed the brutal mark of 100 thousand deaths by covid-19, the interim Minister of Health, General Eduardo Pazuello, affirmed that “this (the greatest national tragedy in more than a century ) is not just a number ”. During the opening ceremony of a sample testing center for the new coronavirus at Fiocruz’s headquarters in Rio, Pazuello said that “it wasn’t 95,000, 98,000, it wasn’t 100 or 101,000 that will make a difference (sic).
What makes the difference is each Brazilian who gets lost ”.
With good will, it is clear from the interim minister’s confused message that he tried to convey solidarity. In any case, it is clear that the catastrophe is not limited to numbers and that each life lost matters as much to the victims’ family and friends as, collectively, to the entire Nation. But numbers are important to give the dimension of the success or failure of public policies that have been adopted – or have ceased to be – to contain the advance of the pandemic in Brazil. And these numbers are very clear to attest the incompetence of the Bolsonaro government to coordinate national efforts.
When General Pazuello temporarily took over the Health portfolio 89 days ago, the country had 14.8 thousand deaths per covid-19. Under his so-called management, the number of fatal victims of the disease has so far grown by no less than 600%. It is not surprising that only now the interim minister has come to defend that “preventive measures against social exclusion are measures for the management of municipalities and states, and we support them all”.
First, Pazuello needs to clarify the use of the pronoun “we”. “We” who, he and President Jair Bolsonaro? The reasons that led the president to dismiss Pazuello’s two predecessors in the Ministry of Health are still fresh in the memory of Brazilians. Both Luiz Henrique Mandetta and Nelson Teich lost their positions because they defended positions opposite to those of Jair Bolsonaro for the good confrontation of the health emergency , in particular the emphasis on social isolation. When the interim minister starts to publicly defend this policy, either Bolsonaro changed his mind or Pazuello’s days are numbered at the Esplanade.
A few days ago, President Jair Bolsonaro again criticized the administration of former minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta. Part of the responsibility for the uncontrolled pandemic in the country would rest with the ex-minister, as if Mandetta had been part of another government, not his. The truth is that since the beginning of the pandemic in Brazil, the president has been more concerned with relieving himself of the high responsibility that he has as head of government than with the national coordination of measures to contain the damage caused by the coronavirus in the country. shameful attitude for someone who occupies the highest position in the executive branch.
In April, shortly after the Supreme Court recognized the competing competence of the Union, States and municipalities in actions to combat the pandemic, as provided for in the Constitution, Bolsonaro went to Twitter to distort the decision and affirm that “the Supreme Court determined that direct actions in relation to covid-19 (sic) are the responsibility of states and municipalities ”. Bolsonaro continues to politicize the issue, when he should be governing. A few days ago, he sent out a report linking the number of deaths to each of the governors with whom he has political differences. He can continue with his game, but the Nation will not forget the names of those who missed him in the most serious hour.
One of the most distinctive qualities of a genuine leader is the courage to not shirk his responsibilities in times of crisis. As a civilian, Jair Bolsonaro should have known this when he decided to run for President of the Republic. All the more so because he linked his image to the limit of impudence with that of the Brazilian Army, a force he left in disgrace. Tibia leader is a contradiction in terms.