Brazil is broke, and I broke it

During the week, President Jair Bolsonaro said that Brazil is “broke.” While far from being the worst-performing economy in Latin America, Mr. Bolsonaro claimed his country has no money to spend, and that “there is nothing [he] can do about it.”

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, Jair Bolsonaro has consistently put economic numbers ahead of Brazilian lives. But shouting from the rafters that his country is “broke” is a baffling move, especially considering that Brazil’s economic recovery is highly dependent on market expectations and investor confidence. 

But what we can say is that the strategy of deflecting responsibility is nothing new for the president. When discussing Covid-19 vaccination — which Brazil is still far from receiving — Mr. Bolsonaro has consistently stressed that he doesn’t want to be blamed for potential vaccine side effects, even suggesting the shots could “turn people into alligators.” 

Regardless, when Jair Bolsonaro says Brazil is “broke” it seems more like a confession than a warning. And as people continue to get the coronavirus and die, the president dived head first into 2021, swimming on São Paulo’s beaches with large gatherings of supporters.