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JAIR BOLSONARO’S presidency is a “disaster” for Brazilians as the coronavirus crisis sweeps the nation, former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says.
If Mr Bolsonaro does not U-turn on his approach to the pandemic — which he has repeatedly dismissed as “a little flu” — he would be unlikely to cling to power till the end of his term in 2022, Lula, as he is commonly known, said in an interview with Associated Press.
“Those who need liquidity at this moment are poor people — they need it to buy soap, hand sanitiser. That’s who needs liquidity — not the financial system.
“To beat the coronavirus we need more state, more action from public authorities.”
Mr Bolsonaro vowed a massive shrinking of the state on his election, appointing Paulo Guedes, trained at the neoliberal University of Chicago, as Economy Minister on a promise to privatise public services and cut spending.
Since the Covid-19 crisis began Brazil has allowed people to access a month’s worth of their pension early and began a monthly payment for low-income workers today, but critics say that the measures are nowhere near adequate for meeting the challenge.
The last Brazilian president to be elected before Mr Bolsonaro was Lula’s successor and fellow Workers Party member Dilma Rousseff, who was removed in a “constitutional coup” by Senators.
Mr Bolsonaro’s own election was helped by frontrunner Lula being barred from participating and jailed on trumped-up corruption charges.
Lula acknowledged that there was insufficient support in the Senate to remove Mr Bolsonaro — although the President is now at odds with almost all Brazil’s 27 state governors for defying social-distancing advice from the World Health Organisation.
But he said “Brazil’s society might not have the patience” to wait until 2022 to remove him.
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