Brazilian House Speaker Rodrigo Maia addressed his peers this afternoon, stressing the importance of political harmony so Brazil can weather its “worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.”
The speech was filled with veiled digs at President Jair Bolsonaro, offering a counterpoint to most of the head of state’s key Covid-19 talking points. Mr. Maia said that the coronavirus — and not social isolation — is what is killing the Brazilian economy. He also called for all elected leaders to “gather in convergence” to create “peace,” just days after an expletive-filled video of a cabinet meeting revolted political circles.
This is by no means Mr. Maia’s first attempt to reason with Mr. Bolsonaro — and it will probably have the same outcome as all others, that is, it won’t moderate the president. As columnist Benjamin Fogel pointed out, Brazilian politics has been stuck in a loop of presidential attacks against democratic institutions, followed by brief, half-hearted signs of moderation. Then it all starts again.
The sound of silence
While the speaker has repeatedly attempted to take a stand against the president’s more outlandish impulses, nothing has been heard from Senate President Davi Alcolumbre. He has restrained himself from reacting to Mr. Bolsonaro, which has been interpreted by many as a sign of tacit support.
In today’s session, the lower house is set to vote on two important bills, both of them submitted by the federal government. One would confirm the national minimum wage at BRL 1,045 for 2020, while the other makes changes to fees for automatic-paycheck-deduction loans. If the latter is approved, the Social Security Institute (INSS) will be able to set the rates related to the operational costs of these loans, making their rates fixed, variable, or a hybrid. The bill also allows the INSS to hire private companies to administer and execute these loans.Support this coverage →