Bolsonaro’s mask slips

Elena Lazarou on how the pandemic has exposed Brazil’s structural weaknesses.

The World Today Published 1 August 2020 Updated 27 September 2020 4 minute READ

On July 7, Jair Bolsonaro, the president of the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 infections in the world, announced that he had tested positive for the virus. Shortly after, he removed his mask to show everyone that ‘he was OK’. The next day, in a long series of tweets, he claimed that no country in the world had managed to save lives and jobs as successfully as his, without spreading panic.

Few images could capture the Brazilian president’s handling of the health crisis as well as this one. A mix of bravado, denial and populism have characterized his reaction to the pandemic during the past four months.

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