RÍO DE JANEIRO – Brazil, the second country with the most deaths and cases of coronavirus in the world, completed 100 days this Sunday without the incumbent Minister of Health, a position held temporarily by an Army general with no experience in the area.
When the three-star general of the Brazilian Army Eduardo Pazuello took office as interim Minister of Health, on May 16, Brazil was only the sixth country with the most cases of COVID-19 in the world, with 218,223 infections, and 14,817 deaths. .
After 100 days of his interim management, Brazil consolidated itself as one of the global epicenters of the pandemic and as the second country with the most deaths (114,250) and more infections (3.58 million) in the world, only surpassed by the United States.
His interim status for an undetermined period was the solution found by President Jair Bolsonaro to have an assistant who would not object to his initiatives in the face of the pandemic, which put the economy ahead of health.
The far-right leader, one of the most skeptical rulers about the seriousness of the disease, which he came to call “flu” even though he was one of those who contracted it, had two different health ministers in less than a month before by Pazuello.
The military man replaced the oncologist Nelson Teich, who on May 15 resigned from the position he held for just 28 days for refusing to sign the decree by which Brazil prescribed the widespread use of chloroquine to treat COVID-19 patients in all levels.
This was reported this Friday by the responsible state laboratory.
Despite the fact that it is a medicine whose efficacy has not been proven and with serious side effects, Bolsonaro defends its use and assures that he was cured of the coronavirus thanks to chloroquine.
The differences also led the head of state to dismiss on April 16 the orthopedist and deputy Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the Minister of Health who defended quarantines and social distancing to face the pandemic, which Bolsonaro opposes.
Pazuello had been appointed in April as Vice Minister of Health due to the fact that his curriculum, with extensive experience and training in logistics, accredited him as the most indicated to be in charge of the distribution of equipment and medicines throughout Brazil in moments of transport paralysis. .
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, who is infected with the new coronavirus, received a few hundred supporters on Sunday in the gardens of the Palacio da Alvorada, the presidential residence, and came within a few meters of his followers.
Bolsonaro also reinforced with a general in the Ministry of Health his strategy of giving strategic positions to officers of the Armed Forces, 9 of which are incumbents among the 22 ministries in the administration of the reserve colonel.
This situation led Magistrate Gilmer Mendes, one of the eleven members of the Supreme Court, to affirm that the Army was “associating itself with a genocide” by keeping an inexperienced general as Minister of Health in the midst of the most serious health crisis faced by the country in its history.
In 100 days in office, the military man has only had six meetings with the head of state, making him one of the four ministers least received by Bolsonaro. In the 28 days that he served as minister, Teich had 10 meetings with his superior.
In the same 100 days, the president received his Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, 49 times, confirming that his greatest concern is the economic effects of the pandemic.
Baptized as “Augusto Bolsonaro”, he quickly gained popularity by appearing in different photographs on social networks.
Pazuello starred in his biggest controversy a few days after taking office, when he announced that he would change the criteria to disclose coronavirus cases, and was forced to go back after complaints that the Government intended to mask the data on the pandemic multiplied.
It also generated controversy by appointing the military as auxiliaries in a score of strategic positions in the Ministry that were held by doctors and health specialists.
In one of his few and most recent public interventions, shortly after Brazil accumulated more than 100,000 deaths from COVID, he admitted that the protocols adopted at the beginning of the pandemic were wrong and expressed his support for the social distancing measures so criticized by Bolsonaro.
Regarding the 100,000 deaths, he assured that “it is not just a number. Every day we suffer losses. It is not just a number. It is not 95,000, 98,000 or 100,000 that will make a difference. What makes the difference is each Brazilian who is lost “.