Tags: Coronavirus | Latin America | brazil | president | protest | lockdowns | jair bolsonaro

Brazil's President Joins Anti-Lockdown Protests

brazilian president jair bolsonaro gestures while in street clothes
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (Leo Correa/AP)

By    |   Monday, 20 April 2020 05:05 PM

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday joined those protesting his own country's strict lockdown measures to combat the coronavirus. 

State governors have power to impose the lockdowns, but Bolsonaro has clashed with them, calling the measures "dictatorial." The president also has described the virus, which has created a pandemic shutting impacting governments and businesses throughout the globe, little more than the flu.

As of Monday, Brazil had 40,581 confirmed cases and 2,845 deaths.

At Sunday's rally outside army headquarters in the capital of Brasilia, Bolsonaro called protesters "patriots" for defending their freedoms, the BBC reported.

Some at the rally carried signs calling for the close of the Congress and Supreme Court. Bolsonaro did not mention those demands on Sunday, but told reporters Monday that Brazil is a democratic country and both institutions would remain open.

Brazil was ruled by the military from 1964 to 1985.

Journalists attending the rally noted Bolsonaro did not wear a face mask or gloves even though he could be seen occasionally coughing.

Bolsonaro said Monday he wants social isolation policies to end nationwide this week, though many Brazilian states say they are committed to such policies.

Nearly all Brazilian states have stay at home measures in place, some slated to extend until the middle of May. The country's top court has already ruled governors and mayors can decide on social isolation measures regardless of the federal government's position. Bolsonaro, meanwhile, wants a quick reopening to stop the deterioration of Brazil's faltering economy.

"Everything done in excess ends up bringing problems. These measures did not reach their goal in some states," Bolsonaro told journalists in front of the presidential residence in Brasilia. "I hope this is the last week of this quarantine, of this way of fighting the virus."

The Brazilian president favors a less restrictive model in which only those in high-risk groups would be quarantined at home until the end of the outbreak.

After Bolsonaro replaced critic Luiz Henrique Mandetta with Nelson Teich as health minister, several governors and mayors said they were considering even stricter isolation measures in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Teich previously published an article defending quarantine policies, but he has not spoken since a vague introduction speech on Friday and it unclear what he will do on the job.

So far Brazil's new health minister has not criticized his boss' presence at the outdoors gathering, which violated the recommendations of many health care professionals.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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State governors have power to impose the lockdowns, but Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has clashed with them, calling the measures "dictatorial."
brazil, president, protest, lockdowns, jair bolsonaro
Monday, 20 April 2020 05:05 PM
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