In televised speech, Bolsonaro spreads falsehoods about WHO head

jair bolsonaro speech
jair bolsonaro

As we reported earlier today, President Jair Bolsonaro used tonight’s televised speech (his sixth this month) to double down on his anti-isolation stance. 

Once again, Mr. Bolsonaro distorted words from a speech by Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the secretary-general of the World Health Organization. He claimed Dr. Tedros “practically” said informal workers “must work,” when he actually stated he “understood” their reality — and held governments accountable for keeping said workers from falling into desperation and extreme poverty.

The president then listed a series of actions his administration is doing, such as creating new intensive care beds for public hospitals, purchasing testing kits, and freezing the prices of medications. He added that the Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes, will do everything in his power to save jobs and revenue for Brazilians.

Mr. Bolsonaro said 1.2 million families were included in cash-transfer program Bolsa Família. However, as Euan Marshall showed earlier this month on The Brazilian Report, almost 1.2 million families were cut from the program throughout 2019.

Once again, Mr. Bolsonaro said that Covid-19 deaths are an inevitable side-effect of the outbreak — and that it can’t prevent the country from saving the economy. “We’ll lose people along the way. I myself have lost loved ones in the past and I know the pain that causes.” Despite saying that all lives matter, Mr. Bolsonaro once again put the economy above public health.

Protests muffle speech

In self-isolation, Brazilians in big centers have once again turned their windows and balconies into protest venues, banging pots and pans and cursing at the head of state — these demonstrations have become a daily occurrence in cities such as São Paulo at around 8 pm. In some areas, backers of the president tried to muffle the protests by shouting in support of him.

These protests are by no means representative of Brazilian society as a whole, but they offer a snapshot of the increasing frustration of voters from major centers with the federal government.