Acre Governor says Health Ministry advised not to follow Bolsonaro

cameli health minister mandetta

Gladson Cameli, the state governor of Acre, told aides that Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta asked him not to follow President Jair Bolsonaro’s recommendation to allow stores to reopen. In recent days, Mr. Mandetta has advised Brazilians to practice self-isolation and self-distancing to contain the Covid-19 outbreak — while Mr. Bolsonaro says “Brazilians want to work.”

An audio recording was leaked of Mr. Cameli telling members of his administration about Mr. Mandetta’s words. “The Health Minister told me: call the owners of funeral parlors. Tell them to get ready. If the minister tells me that, what should I do? Will I say things are simple? Will I be irresponsible? I won’t, [Luiz Henrique Mandetta] is not nuts.” 

Mr. Cameli added that he doesn’t want to find himself in the same position as Milan city authorities — who have apologized for over 9,000 deaths one month after launching a campaign called “Milan Non Si Ferma,” or “Milan Doesn’t Stop,” assuring people that isolation measures were unnecessary and life should continue as normal. Last week, the Brazilian government launched a strikingly similar campaign entitled “Brazil Cannot Stop” — but courts have suspended the ads.

Mr. Mandetta did not respond to an inquiry from online magazine Crusoé.

This could be the last straw in a quickly souring relationship between the Health Minister and President Bolsonaro. Last week, a political scientist went as far as publishing that Mr. Mandetta’s firing was official — which was later proved wrong. The Brazilian Report, however, confirmed that tensions are high, and that the president already has two possible replacements for the job: Osmar Terra, a congressman who previously served as Citizenship Minister, and Admiral Antônio Barra Torres, the head of Brazil’s sanitary surveillance agency Anvisa. Both are doctors.