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Today Brazil's COVID-19 death toll reaches 100,000. The president says "so what?", promotes chloroquine without scientific evidence & greets supporters without using a mask. Brazil has no Minister of Health. But: Bolsonaro approval ratings have gone up. How is that possible?👇🧵
Bolsonaro's strategy of systematic denial has made him the undisputed leader of the Ostrich Alliance. He has been far more radical than Trump. While Bolsonaro sacked his Minister of Health for failing to endorse chloroquine, Trump decided not to fire Anthony Fauci.
Yet while Brazil is rudderless, without a plan of how to overcome the pandemic, it would be a mistake to think that Bolsonaro doesn't know that he is doing. Quite to the contrary: his plan is sophisticated &disciplined (though morally reprehensible) - and it may get him reelected
From the start, Bolsonaro realized that the pandemic could cause the worst economic crisis in LatinAmerican history, a region that was already on the ropes prior to COVID-19. It'll take years to recover. Expect long-term turmoil, mass protests and numerous impeachments or worse.
Bolsonaro, aware that implementing his authoritarian project will take years - as the cases of Hungary, Venezuela & Turkey show - is therefore doing whatever it takes to avoid taking any responsibility for the crisis. The public discontent must be diverted, others must be blamed.
His decision to blame social distancing measures therefore makes total sense: if only a few thousand would have died, he would have accused governors of needlessly destroying the economy. Now that 100,000 are dead, he can say it proves social distancing measures were useless.
The most recent public opinion polls suggest Bolsonaro's approval ratings has gone up, reaching 45%. If the election would take place today, he'd win. The fact that Bolsonaro refuses to even recognize the tragic human loss has been normalized.
The daily onslaught of absurdities that, if analyzed individually, would cause public outrage, has numbed the population. The pot-banging protests have stopped. Impeachment has become less likely. Bolsonaro may emerge as one of the biggest political beneficiaries of the pandemic.
I elaborate on the aspects described above in my latest column for EL PAÍS [in Portuguese]: "Bolsonaro's strategy of denialism vis-à-vis the pandemic is deliberate and can help guarantee his political survival"…
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