Health Minister criticizes Bolsonaro for encouraging public gathering

Health Minister criticizes Bolsonaro for encouraging public gathering

After breaking quarantine for the third day in a row, President Jair Bolsonaro was criticized by his own Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, and right-wing Goiás Governor Ronaldo Caiado, a former ally. During a visit to the construction site of the country’s first field hospital in the city of Águas Lindas de Goiás, Mr. Bolsonaro physically interacted with supporters and joked about social isolation measures.

After the incident, Mr. Mandetta, who had avoided getting closer to the crowd, said he cannot control the situation but “only give recommendations.”

“I cannot live people’s lives. The ones who behave this way today will soon be the ones who are mourning,” he said. When asked if his ministry’s recommendations applied to the president, the minister added that “it applies to all Brazilians.”

Mr. Caiado was also critical of Mr. Bolsonaro. The governor said the president “is the one who has to explain this situation,” adding that his administration is implementing the recommendations by the Health Ministry and promoting social isolation.

Mr. Bolsonaro’s behavior has led him to lose support even from his former allies. Previously, Mr. Caiado had gained attention after urging pro-Bolsonaro protesters to disband during a right-wing demonstration. And as shown by Euan Marshall, in a moment in which the president seems to be at war with his own health minister, public support for Mr. Mandetta is on the rise.

On Friday, television cameras caught Mr. Bolsonaro shaking the hand of a senior citizen moments after wiping his nose — a textbook risk behavior, especially since the president is part of high-risk groups, being 65 and having undergone multiple surgeries over the past one and a half years. Not to mention the two dozen people in his administration who contracted Covid-19.