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Numbers of the week: Sep. 5, 2020

. Sep 05, 2020
coronavirus numbers

This is Brazil by the Numbers, a weekly digest of the most interesting figures tucked inside the latest news about Brazil. A selection of numbers that help explain what is going on in Brazil. This week: the latest coronavirus figures, Brazilians looking forward to a vaccine, earthquakes in the Northeast, Rio Governor Wilson Witzel loses in court, the Q2 economic drop, a new chapter for the emergency salary 

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4 million coronavirus cases

Brazil became just the second country

in the world to <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/">hit the 4-million-case mark</a> on Thursday evening. Still, there is some room for optimism, as data suggests that the spread could be slowing down. It took Brazil 25 days to go from 3 to 4 million cases — two days longer than its transition from 2 to 3 million. Moreover, new deaths and infections saw a slight drop in August. While experts celebrate the positive numbers, they warn that the curves are still plateauing at a high level.</p> <p>Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro continued his campaign of gaslighting the Brazilian population. He patted himself on the back once more, saying his response to the pandemic was “unparalleled.” Moreover, he <a href="https://brazilian.report/coronavirus-brazil-live-blog/2020/09/01/bolsonaro-no-one-can-force-anyone-to-get-a-vaccine/">declared</a> that “no-one can force anyone to take a Covid-19 vaccine,” raising fears of a <a href="https://twitter.com/secomvc/status/1300838424526626820">potential anti-vax wave</a> in the country. But as it turns out, coercing patients is unlikely to be necessary. An Ipsos-Mori poll in 27 countries ranked Brazilians as the second-most eager population to receive a coronavirus vaccine once it is available, with 88 percent saying they would take it.</p> <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/6ZZeH86TSqcGeZOmJuf8ah" width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Coronavirus emergency salary</h2> <p>President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed the <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-brazil-economy-bolsonaro/brazil-may-extend-emergency-payments-to-poor-until-end-of-year-bolsonaro-idUSKCN25F2Q2">extension of the emergency salary</a> program until the end of the year — but the benefit will be halved to BRL 300 (USD 55) due to budgetary constraints. But the move already faces some opposition in Congress. Since the pandemic started, Mr. Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for his Covid-19 denialism. However, as <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong> showed, the financial aid improved the lives of millions of people — and <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2020/08/18/jair-bolsonaro-has-never-been-safer-from-impeachment/">boosted the president’s approval ratings among lower classes</a>.</p> <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/1emM0oO0osG1HINQnKHvGB" width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>14 tremors in Bahia</h2> <p>A 4.6-magnitude earthquake was felt in several regions of the northeastern state of Bahia, including cities in the Recôncavo Baiano region and state capital Salvador. No-one was injured but several homes were damaged. From August 30 to September 1, Bahia recorded 14 tremors, all of them in the city of Amargosa, according to the Brazilian Seismographic Network (RSBR). Experts say these zones are seismogenic, which increases the propensity of the phenomenon. Though these regions — and Brazil as a whole — do not suffer from violent earthquakes like other countries, this recent small “clusters” of tremors are quite common.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>-9.7 percent in Q2 2020</h2> <p>The Brazilian economy shrank 9.7 percent during Q2 2020 — during which social isolation was more strictly enforced in Brazil. This was the second-straight quarter of negative growth, putting the country in a <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/06/30/brazil-coronavirus-led-recession-to-be-brief-yet-acute/">technical recession</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Q2 2020 data was <em>the</em> biggest quarterly drop on record. Still, the drop was already priced into Brazilian market performance. Brazil’s benchmark stock index Ibovespa rose 2.2 percent after the GDP announcement. Moreover, economists say the data is a look into the rearview mirror, showing what they believe was rock bottom for the country during the coronavirus crisis — and many expect a &#8220;Nike swoosh-shaped recovery,&#8221; implying the sharp fall followed by a slower, steady recuperation. However, this is conditioned to the approval of structural reforms, as the <a href="https://brazilian.report/podcast/2020/09/02/explaining-brazil-podcast-reducing-business-complexity-in-brazil/">latest episode of the Explaining Brazil podcast informed</a>.</p> <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed-podcast/episode/4dATc000eSuZlGDJbUqQat" width="100%" height="232" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media"></iframe> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>15-1 loss for Witzel</h2> <p>A panel of 15 members of the Superior Court of Justice, Brazil’s second-highest judicial body, confirmed Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel’s 180-day suspension from office. He is suspected of leading a corruption ring to embezzle state funds originally earmarked for the coronavirus fight. Interim Governor Cláudio Castro is planning a cabinet overhaul — using that reshuffling as an olive branch to State Congress, which is set to vote on Mr. Witzel’s impeachment. <a href="https://brazilian.report/newsletters/brazil-daily/2020/08/28/rio-governor-suspended-in-coronavirus-corruption-probe/">Go deeper</a>.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>125 years (yes, years) for a verdict</h2> <p>The Brazilian Supreme Court has <em>finally</em> closed a case that had been <a href="https://brazilian.report/power/2018/11/27/oldest-case-trial-brazil-justice-royal-family/">going on for 125 years</a>. It concerned the possession of the Guanabara Palace in Rio de Janeiro, a neoclassical residence built in the 1850s and subject to a tiff between Brazil&#8217;s old royal family and the federal government. The case in question, a possessory action, was actually filed by Princess Isabel herself, daughter of Emperor Pedro II and one of the most important figures in Brazil&#8217;s history, being responsible for signing the so-called Golden Law in 1888 which abolished slavery in the country.</p> <p>Almost a century after the original plaintiff had died, the Supreme Court dismissed the case and <a href="https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/poder/2020/09/apos-125-anos-stf-decide-que-palacio-da-guanabara-e-da-uniao-e-nao-da-familia-real.shtml">ruled</a> in favor of the government.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs — specialized in Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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