While Bolsonaro defends liberty, Doria imposes lockdowns

Brazil Uncovered - João Doria independently signed a contract with the Chinese to buy a COVID vaccine under development. Although this is a power restricted to the federal government, he later sent the bill to the president.
João Doria independently signed a contract with the Chinese to buy a COVID vaccine under development. Although this is a power restricted to the federal government, he later sent the bill to the president.

São Paulo’s governor João Dória’s speech may give an impression that the Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is acting irresponsibly towards the COVID pandemic while he presents himself as “the manager” who will solve the problem, and also a candidate for the 2022 presidential election. However, it’s the opposite. The timeline below highlights the most relevant episodes so far showing how Bolsonaro has stood for liberty and Doria has been imposing strict lockdowns with a serious impact for the the economy of the most important state in Brazil.

The governor of São Paulo wants to be portrayed as sensible, in direct opposition of president Bolsonaro.

Before the COVID pandemic: Doria in China

Before COVID was declared a pandemic, João Doria was openly trying to strengthen ties with China. He went on an official business mission and opened an office in Shaghai to serve as a bridge for Chinese investments in the state of São Paulo, the economic hub of Brazil. Doesn’t this modus operandis sound familiar?

Shutting down businesses is a crime against the nation

During a press conference on March 25th, 2020, president Jair Bolsonaro said that the orders of mayors and state governors to shut down businesses is a crime. “How are we supposed to live without money, without a functioning economy?”, he said to the journalists. At that time, about 39 million self-employed Brazilians were neither working nor receiving any payment. He also pointed out the measures adopted by João Dória (São Paulo) and Wilson Witzel (the Rio de Janeiro governor, currently impeached due to frauds related to the pandemic) as “low-level hipocrisy”.

Overestimation of deaths

Back on April 13th, 2020, Doria estimated that there were 1,300 deaths in the state of São Paulo and if no social isolation was put in place the number of deaths could reach 5,000. However, at that time, the Health Ministry announced that the total COVID deaths in Brazil was 1,223 and only 588 in the state of São Paulo. Doria justified the isolation measure by predicting 111,000 deaths against 277,000 if the restrictions were not put in place. The fear mongering narrative was that 70% of the population needed to stay home.

Bolsonaro clearly against authoritarianism

By May 2020, the confidentiality of a cabinet meeting was lifted and it quickly spread on TV and on the internet. Leading the cabinet meeting, Bolsonaro is seen speaking about the need to reopen businesses and the disaster it would be if the lockdown was maintained. Ten million workers could be out of a job, bringing chaos, misery, and social unrest. Bolsonaro also voiced his concern about mayors and governors who were using the pandemic for political gains, putting pressure on the budget, spreading lies and turning them against the federal government. Equally impressive was the president showing his dissatisfaction with the poor communication among the presidential and ministerial teams and also addressing a serious weakness in the information, security, and intelligence service. He also mentioned the rigging and manipulation happening within important departments around the presidency.

While the media portrayed Bolsonaro’s speech as rude and impolite – as they always do – what he said resonated with the ordinary citizen but enraged the mainstream media, politicians, and bureaucrats isolated in bubbles far away from the real life of Brazilians struggling to survive. Speaking against the lockdown, he even asked “Why are the police putting handcuffs in a working citizen? Why doesn’t the Judiciary do anything? They shouldn’t be handcuffed!” Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ruled to release convicts so that they wouldn’t get infected with the COVID virus in prisons.

President Bolsonaro also asked “These bastards want our liberty. A dictatorship can easily settle in Brazil. That’s why I want people to have access to guns, it’s a guarantee. An armed population will never be enslaved.”

Referring to the politicians, he said “This dung from São Paulo and this manure from Rio de Janeiro, among others, including the mayor of Manaus, are taking advantage of the COVID pandemic to terrorize people and go over budget in a budget already in default”.

The Vaccine Drama

In October 2020, it became known that Doria had signed a contract that had been kept confidential, to buy 46 million COVID vaccine doses from China (SINOVAC), a vaccine that hadn’t been approved by any health authority at the time. When asked the reason why during an interview to Brazilian TV, Doria replied “Buying is one thing, applying is another.” Since his marketing is to present himself as a diligent manager, he should know that managing the government budget is one thing and mismanaging it is another. It is important to note that intellectual property rights of the SINOVAC vaccine belong to the Chinese.

The Coronavirus Goes on Vacation

It turned out that the COVID took a vacation during the municipal elections just so that the candidates could campaign walking around very close to people, take selfies and waste time with political promises. Coincidence? Right after the elections, the COVID hysteria came back with gloomy statistics about deaths, new cases, and hospitalizations. Of course, the ordinary citizen took the hardest hit having to wear a mask, losing their job, staying away from family and friends and complying with the #stayathome campaigns.

A year of lockdowns

It’s 2021 and what a year of lockdowns has accomplished is showing a clear alliance of mayors and governors all over Brazil to deliberately throw the country into chaos. There's massive unemployment, businesses going bankrupt, and even hunger. In the state of São Paulo, Doria has ordered the closure of churches, a curfew and other measures that break the country’s legal and constitutional order while refusing to explain why USD 100 million have been paid to overpriced Chinese respirators. Doria has even ordered mobile data monitoring.

The lockdowns haven’t come from the federal government, instead, they've been ordered by mayors and governors, empowered by the Supreme Court, and notably lead by the governor of São Paulo. There's a concerted plan to put the blame on the president.

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