Under pressure, Bolsonaro once again speaks out against isolation

Bolsonaro social isolation
President Jair Bolsonaro during address to the nation. Photo: Anderson Riedel/PR

In a five-minute address to the nation on Wednesday night, President Jair Bolsonaro once again attacked state governors and mayors for enacting isolation measures — and blamed them for the economic consequences of the pandemic. “Our administration didn’t force anyone to stay home. It didn’t close commerce, churches, or schools. It didn’t remove millions of informal workers’ livelihoods,” he said.

The address comes days after his opponents staged protests in 200-plus cities calling for his impeachment. Demonstrators justified gathering on the streets by saying that the president and his hands-off approach to the coronavirus is the reason the pandemic has been so deadly in Brazil.

Pressured by delays, Mr. Bolsonaro promised that “all Brazilian who wish to [be vaccinated]” will have access to shots before the end of the year. Testimonies given to the Senate’s Covid hearings, however, painted a picture of a government which deliberately stalled vaccine deals with Pfizer and São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, which produces the Chinese CoronaVac domestically.

During his speech, citizens staged pot-banging protests in most of Brazil’s biggest cities to voice their opposition to Mr. Bolsonaro — many calling him “genocidal,” and blaming him for not acting efficiently against the coronavirus. So far, Covid-19 has killed at least 467,000 Brazilians, though low testing suggests the real figures are much higher.