Brazil is South America’s most influential country, but they are on the brink of collapse. The government’s inability to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has left the public screaming for answers.

Brazil has a population of 208 million and is currently led by President Jair Bolsonaro. President Bolsonaro is a retired army officer and took office in January 2019. Some of his significant policies include a relaxation of gun laws, a cut in state intervention in the economy and the possible withdrawal of Brazil’s commitment to the Paris climate change agreement. Not good signs…

COVID-19 has now killed 100,000 people in Brazil, and over 3.5 million people have been infected with the virus. You would think based off these statistics that the country is in lockdown? Not even close. Shops and restaurants have already reopened even though the country is still averaging an increase of 50,000 cases per day.

This links back to their far-right leader who has utterly downplayed the risk of COVID-19. President Bolsonaro opposed any measures that could hit the economy and fought restrictions imposed by state governors to contain COVID-19. He even caught COVID-19 himself, and still, he has no regard for the health of his people.

However, Bolsonaro is entirely to blame. The health ministry is being led by an army general with no experience in public health. The only minsters who were actually qualified medical professionals quit the position after arguments with the president over the importance of social distancing.

Furthermore, Brazil has experienced one of its most severe starts to the amazon fire season with over 10,000 fires spotted in the first 10 days of August. Many have attributed the increasing fires to the government’s lack of an environmental policy. Once again, the President has decided not to listen to anyone. Instead of merely acknowledging the fires, he chose to blame Leonardo DiCaprio and the NGOs for fire despite providing no evidence. It’s almost comical.

Brazil’s issues go from the bottom all the way to the top, the president. His indifference and lack of empathy is resulting in immense domestic and international criticism. Moreover, his lack of leadership and active listening continues to be genuinely concerning as the virus continues to ravage hundreds of communities.

The end is unclear for the people of Brazil. Their leader is telling them that everything is fine, but that is far from the case. Protests are effective, but in the current world we live in, they are not the best option. A new government is the only realistic hope for the Brazilians fighting for equality. While Bolsonaro is still in charge, his obsession with power will continue to lead to more violence, pain and destruction.

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