Written by LILAC Member Brian Li
Will Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, be seen as a hero or a villain for his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Brazil’s controversial and far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, has faced criticism for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic and for his inflammatory statements, such as calling the virus a “little flu” and insulting those who self-isolated “weak.” However, even though Brazil faces over 5 million coronavirus cases and 150 thousand deaths, Bolsonaro has reached a record 40% approval rating.
This can be attributed to the monthly aid payments of £83 ($108) or £166 ($217) for single mothers to approximately 67 million Brazilians. Giselly Andrade, who has two children, said that the payments changed her opinion on Bolsonaro and will vote for him when he runs for re-election in 2022. “People said he only thought about himself [but] he’s shown the opposite.”
Unfortunately, Brazil may not be capable of maintaining Bolsonaro’s government payments for much longer. According to Renato Meirelles at Locomotiva, a research institute specialising in low-income Brazilians, 51% of the nation’s residents are receiving emergency aid. However, the payments were halved last month and are expected to end in December. Still, Bolsonaro refuses to raise taxes on the wealthy, putting further pressure on ordinary Brazilians. Wilma de Silva lost her job as a maid due to the pandemic and is currently struggling with rising rice prices and a halved monthly payment. “I don’t know what I am going to do to keep a house with a child… pay for electricity, water, buy food. There are many families going through what I’m going through in Brazil.” Silva will not vote for Bolsonaro again in 2022.