The participation of Jair Bolsonaro in one of the protests against the National Congress and the Supreme Court this Sunday, March 15, has raised concerns throughout Brazilian society over the president’s anti-democratic impulses.
Acting carelessly and in a manner incompatible with the decorum of the office, the president called and encouraged the protests, deepening tensions with other branches of the government in a gesture that has aggravated the political, economic and social crisis.
If the severity of the political showdown he is proposing were not enough, the president ignored international warnings over coronavirus and advice from his own Ministry of Health and state governments by having physical contact with demonstrators.
Contrary to the measures that world leaders are taking to avoid the worst consequences of the virus and reduce the speed of contagion, the Brazilian president has confused the population by denying scientific information. As such, he demonstrates neither the knowledge nor the necessary leadership to deal with one of the biggest health emergencies of the past decades.
This attitude could take a very heavy toll on the Brazilian population, particularly – as is already frequent – on the most socially vulnerable people who rely exclusively on public health services, which have already suffered the consequences of the cuts to SUS (the public healthcare system).
Against this backdrop of acute economic and social crisis looming on the horizon, Bolsonaro has left Brazil adrift. Democratic institutions urgently need to respond vigorously, demanding the necessary responsibility from the person who was elected swearing to uphold the Constitution and democracy.