(CNN Spanish) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro toughened criticism on Wednesday against governors and mayors who have independently applied more stringent quarantine measures in their territories.
In declarations to journalists, the president affirmed that they commit a “crime” and accused them of being “busting Brazil and destroying jobs.”
Bolsonaro added that the important thing is “to put the people to work” and stated that “nobody knows what can happen”, in an allusion that Brazil “could get out of democratic normality if chaos in the economy is established.”
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The president had already launched strong criticism on Tuesday against the provisions issued by the governors of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, which he called demagogues.
Both states enacted strict quarantine measures, such as a ban on opening all businesses except essential ones. Medical experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend personal hygiene and social distancing measures to prevent covid-19 infections.
As of this Wednesday afternoon, there were 2,274 cases of covid-19 in Brazil and 47 people had died from the disease, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
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Then, Bolsonaro, who referred to the dangerous virus as a “fluzinha”, lashed out, among other measures, at the closing of schools and blamed the media for creating “hysteria”.
The Governor of the state of São Paulo, Jõao Doria, responded on social networks that it is not a “influenza”, while he defended that those of his state “are not dead of lies.” São Paulo has the highest number of deaths from coronavirus in the country: 40 confirmed by health authorities.
Doria also regretted that Bolsonaro “preferred to talk about politics and elections instead of discussing measures to save lives” during the remote meeting they held this Wednesday.
The governor of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, affirmed in a video that the “manifestation of the President of the Republic contradicts the determinations of the World Health Organization” and promised “to continue firm to protect lives”.
The president of the Senate, Davi Alcolumbre, in quarantine for having contracted the coronavirus, issued a statement in which he dismissed Bolsonaro’s position as serious.
Alcolumbre also called for “serious, responsible and committed leadership with the life and health of the population.”
For his part, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, wrote on Twitter that “the president’s pronouncement was wrong in attacking the press, the governors and public health specialists.”
Maia asked for “good sense, balance and unity” to face the health crisis.
The governors of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have gained great political importance during the coronavirus crisis and some analysts and Brazilian media consider them as an alternative to Jair Bolsonaro for the upcoming elections.