At Easter Time in Brazil, kids will gather around the Easter Bunny — usually your uncle in a costume — and wait to receive a handful of yummy chocolate eggs, putting a smile on each one of their faces. In 2020, in the middle of the world’s first 21st-century pandemic, Brazilians aren’t asking for chocolate this Easter, just a bit of hope and maybe some kind words.
Then we realize we are in President Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil.
After nearly firing his Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta — among the only members of the cabinet that has been using technical and scientific arguments to fight the virus — Mr. Bolsonaro once again addressed the nation on Wednesday night, showing his disgust for the Health Ministry’s social isolation directives.
Instead of a conciliatory speech, Brazil’s far-right Easter Bunny said these measures are entirely state governors’ responsibility. Well, at least we see the President is trying to avoid his own election in 2022, as governors are set to end the pandemic with high approval ratings.
While even São Paulo Governor João Doria — a conservative right wing politician — retweeted former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and was praised by his former enemy, ex-President Dilma Rousseff, Mr. Bolsonaro seems to be isolated, but not in a healthy #StayAtHome way. In times of chaos, with millions of people confined in their homes, Mr. Bolsonaro could, at least during this period, be less aggressive and toxic. But it seems too much to ask.
As Brazilians approach Easter Sunday, more than 16,000 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed and deaths could reach 1,000 over the weekend. In the meantime, the leader’s priority is to send more and more people to the streets and prove himself right. Let’s wait for next year’s Easter to look back and see if we got some chocolates instead.