Tag Archives: Jair Bolsonaro

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon last month were the worst since 2007

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon rose 19.5% in June compared to the same month last year, making it the worst June in 13 years. With such an increase, environmental organizations are worried that this year could surpass the disastrous fires registered last year across the Amazon.

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Last month was the start of the dry season in the Amazon and 2,248 forest fires were recorded, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE). But the worst is actually expected in August. Last year there were more than 30,000 fires that month, a figure that will likely be exceeded this year.

Most of the forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon are caused by arson and are directly linked to deforestation, often caused by crop farmers for cultivation. Deforestation was high this year even before the start of the dry season, with more than 2,000 square kilometers lost between January and May.

INPE estimates that 9,000 square kilometers of jungle already cut down since last year could go up in flames before August begins. This also has indirect consequences, as the smoke could aggravate the chaotic situation caused by the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil. The country already has the world’s second-highest number of cases.

Environmental organizations have accused Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro of promoting deforestation by calling for the legalization of farming and mining activities in protected zones. “We cannot allow the 2019 situation to repeat itself,” Mauricio Voivodic, executive director of the WWF NGO in Brazil, told local media.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly dismissed the criticism of his handling of the Amazon, claiming the rainforest belongs to Brazil and that its natural resources should be used for the economic development of the country. Foreign interest in the Amazon is only due to their intention of controlling its mineral resources, he has said.

Defiantly, the country’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles had said the government should take advantage of the fact that people are distracted by the coronavirus epidemic to move forward in the deregulation of environmental policies. “We have to push through and change all the rules,” he said.

The Amazon spans multiple South American countries but most of it (60%) lies in Brazil. Usually described as the lungs of the Earth, the Amazon is a key carbon sink that slows down the pace of global warming. It is also highly relevant for biodiversity as it hosts about three million species of plants and animals.

Many researchers have argued that the Amazon could be close to “the tipping point,” when its nature completely changes. This will actually happen when total deforestation in the area reaches between 20% and 25%, something that could happen in the next 20 or 30 years.

A study in February showed Amazon’s capacity to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) is now being impaired because of illegal logging, especially in Brazil. During the last 10 years, up to 20% of the Amazon has become a net source of CO2 in the atmosphere, a piece of very bad news for the world’s climate.

Brazil now has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases

The reluctancy of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to take the coronavirus epidemic seriously has led to Brazil now having more positive cases of the virus than any country in the world other than the United States.

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The country reached 363,211 infections, registering 15,813 new infections in the last 24 hours, according to the Ministry of Health. The number of deaths, meanwhile, also increased. A total of 653 new victims were reported, with a total of 22,666 people losing their lives due to the pandemic so far.

Brazil, which last week reported 17,500 cases a day on average, has already surpassed Russia, which is now in third place on the list of countries with the most COVID-19 cases, with just over 344,000 positive cases. The United States remains the nation most affected by the pandemic, with more than 1.6 million cases.

San Pablo, the richest and most populous state in Brazil, with some 46 million inhabitants, is the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, registering 6,163 deaths and 82,161 confirmed cases. Rio de Janeiro has 37,912 infected.

The state of Ceará, in the impoverished northeast of the country, ranks third with 35,595 infections and 2,324 deaths — alarming numbers for its population, estimated at some nine million people. Amazonas, another of the regions most affected by the pandemic in Brazil, registered 29,867 cases and 1,758 deaths.

In Amazonas, the first state in the country to be hit by the coronavirus, the numbers begin to drop in the urban region, but those of indigenous populations raise alarms. According to the latest report from the Ministry of Indigenous Health, 60% of the Brazilian natives affected by the virus are located in Amazonas.

In this context, President Bolsonaro once again challenged COVID-19 by participating in a demonstration of followers, in which he mixed with the crowd, again ignoring the recommendations to avoid being infected by the virus. He did so without a mask, whose use is not mandatory in the country.

Almost unable to move among the crowds, Bolsonaro greeted several of the followers and even hugged and carried children in his arms. The head of state was happy with the support of his followers at a time when his credibility is being questioned due to its lack of policies over the epidemic.

Bolsonaro’s stance is largely in line with his counterpart and ally U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been stressing the need to put people back to work as unemployment figures keep growing. However, while Trump has been kept in check by the rest of the administration and by Congress, Bolsonaro has been given a freer hand.

Since Brazil confirmed its first coronavirus case on 26 February, Bolsonaro has continually downplayed the pandemic, rejecting what he considers to be “hysteria” over its dangers. Asked about a record 474 deaths in a day in early May, he told reporters “so what?” and “what do you want me to do?”

The epicenter of the pandemic has shifted to South America as cases in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo explode six months after the new coronavirus emerged on the other side of the world in China, the World Health Organization declared last week.

“We’ve seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases and clearly there’s a concern across many of those countries, but certainly the most affected is Brazil at this point,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies program, said at a news briefing

As Bolsonaro scoffs, coronavirus expands in Brazil with over 100,000 confirmed cases

With open borders and virtually no national lockdown, the figures of the coronavirus epidemic in Brazil are shocking and continue to worsen every day, as with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro refuses to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

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The country has registered 7,025 deaths from COVID-19 (275 of them in the last 24 hours) and has exceeded the barrier of 100,000 confirmed cases, now with 101,147 cases, with a much worse situation than what is seen in other countries in South American.

And the real situation may yet be worse.

The real number of cases could be over a million, as Brazil has a severe lack of tests, according to different studies recently published – with the peak of the infection expected in two weeks.

The state of Sao Paulo, the richest and most populous in Brazil, with some 46 million inhabitants, continues to be the hardest hit by the pandemic with 2,627 deaths and 31,772 infected by COVID-19. The state of Rio de Janeiro follows with 1,019 deaths and 11,139 infected.

In a rally on Sunday, Bolsonaro reaffirmed his rejection of a lockdown and questioned governors who imposed measures to limit the movement of people. Each state in Brazil has the right to decide whether to set a lockdown or not. Sao Paulo, for example, has a lockdown in place since mid-March. Overall, however, Brazil is still not experiencing a lockdown against the outbreak.

“The number of jobs that are being lost because of the lockdown is irresponsible and inadmissible. This will cost us a lot in the future,” Bolsonaro said in the rally. “The people are with us and the army in the side of the law, the order, the liberty and the democracy.”

Bolsonaro’s stance is largely in line with his counterpart and ally U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been stressing the need to put people back to work as unemployment figures keep growing — in opposition to the advice from health experts and governors. However, while Trump has been kept in check by the rest of the administration and by Congress, Bolsonaro has been given a freer hand — and the results are frightening.

Since Brazil confirmed its first coronavirus case on 26 February, Bolsonaro has continually downplayed the pandemic, rejecting what he considers to be “hysteria” over its dangers. Asked about a record 474 deaths in a day last week, he told reporters “so what?” and “what do you want me to do?”

Health experts fear the coronavirus outbreak – which is moving into poor regions, having initially affected middle- and upper-class areas – could wreak havoc on Brazil’s most deprived and vulnerable communities. This is especially worrying for indigenous communities living in the Amazon region. Figures including Madonna, Oprah Winfrey, Brad Pitt, David Hockney and Paul McCartney have sent an open letter to Bolsonaro and warned the pandemic meant indigenous communities in the Amazon faced “an extreme threat to their very survival”.

“Five centuries ago, these ethnic groups were decimated by diseases brought by European colonisers … Now, with this new scourge spreading rapidly across Brazil … [they] may disappear completely since they have no means of combating Covid-19,” they wrote.

Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva told The Guardian Bolsonaro is leading Brazilians “to the slaughterhouse” with his irresponsible handling of coronavirus. “Brazil is going to suffer a great deal because of Bolsonaro’s recklessness,” he said, claiming bodies would soon start to pile up in Brazil.

Opposite angles

Close to Brazil, neighboring Argentina has set up a strict lockdown from early March, which has prevented the virus from spreading further and even delayed the peak of infection – first expected in April and now expected in June.

Citizens are only allowed to go outside to buy groceries or assist family members, with only essential workers such as doctors allowed to break the lockdown. The use of face-covering is advised but not mandatory on a national scale.

So far, this has clearly paid off. The country has only 4,700 confirmed cases, 246 deaths and 1,341 recovered patients, mainly concentrated in Buenos Aires province, the most populated area of the country. The lockdown is likely to be extended until the end of the month.

Research comparing Brazil and Argentina can be even more illustrative. Both countries had only two deaths from coronavirus on March 17, but the situation has evolved much differently. If nothing changes, Brazil would have 28,600 deaths by the of May, while Argentina would have 532.

The wide gap is worrying South American countries, who fear the virus could spread faster across the region due to the large number of cases in Brazil. They are now working in coordination to set up measures such as restricting traffic in routes and further controlling trucks coming from Brazilian cities.

Coronavirus disinformation: Twitter deletes videos from Brazil’s president for violating public health

Brazil’s far-right leader has been vehement in his discourse against COVID-19 suppression methods, going against what doctors and researchers advise. Now, Twitter has penalized him by removing videos that go against the platform’s terms of service.

Credits: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

Two of Bolsonar’s posts were removed and replaced with a notice explaining why they had been taken down. In one of the posts, Bolsonaro called for an end to the quarantine measures and for Brazil to “return to normal”.

“If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved,” he said of the isolation measures.

“If it continues like this, with the amount of unemployment what we will have later is a very serious problem that will take years to be resolved,” he said of the isolation measures.

“Brazil cannot stop or we’ll turn into Venezuela,” Bolsonaro later told reporters outside his official residence.

In the second video, Bolsonaro is on a walking tour, praising the unproven treatment hydroxychloroquine and discussing with a street vendor about how Brazilians need to return to work. In recent videos, Bolsonaro was also seen strolling through crowded areas.

Bolsonaro isn’t the only South American leader to receive a social media slap from Twitter. Last week, the site deleted a post by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who was promoting a completely unproven “natural brew” to cure COVID-19.

Bolsonaro’s videos are still available on Facebook. Twitter has apparently taken a more proactive approach to limit the spread of misinformation and disinformation, whereas Facebook has been far more lenient.

Twitter recently announced a change in its terms of service, prohibiting users from denying local or global health authority recommendations, denying established scientific facts about transmission, and promoting treatments not known to be effective.

This decision will likely prove to be very important in the following weeks, as quarantine will become increasingly difficult to maintain. Several nationalistic leaders, spearheaded by Donald Trump, have publicly supported the idea of reducing quarantine to support the economy — something which experts agree that will not only cost a lot of human lives, but also have an even worse impact on the economy.

Bolsonaro has been the most vocal denier of the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. He came to power last year promising a strong economy and is turning the pandemic into a political debate, rather than a health one.

“Jair Bolsonaro is alone right now,” says Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of the publication Americas Quarterly. “No other major world leader is denying the severity of this to the extent that he is and depending on how things go, that approach could cost a lot of lives in Brazil.”

recent poll from Datafolha found that 73% of people in Brazil supported total isolation, and around 54% approved of local governors’ management of the crisis (contrary to what Bolsonaro wants to happen).