What Brazilian right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro classified as “flu” is turning into a disaster in several countries in South America. And as dependencies on China grow, so does the risk of the authoritarianism virus spreading.
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“The extraordinary circumstances are used to” clarify “political power issues, but now without internal controls and taking advantage of the demobilization of the citizens forced by the pandemic,” warns Günther Maihold, Vice President of the Science and Politics Foundation. An overview:
Brazil: The country can go to the state “With most coronavirus cases in the world”. The gloomy forecast is made by Brazil’s ex-health minister Henrique Mandetta. He resigned from President Bolsonaro a month ago because of deep differences.
Meanwhile more than 20,000 dead in Brazil
The curve with the new cases has been rising steeply since mid-April. In the most populous country in South America, 310,000 infections with the new corona virus have now been detected. The number of coronavirus deaths has exceeded the 20,000 threshold. With a new record of 1188 reported deaths within 24 hours, the death toll increased to 20,047, the Brazilian Ministry of Health said on Thursday (local time). Experts also expect that the peak of the spread of the novel virus in Brazil will not be reached until June.
It is also suspected that the number of unreported cases is much higher because there are too few tests. Only 62 out of 100,000 Brazilians have been tested on average. Numerous death certificates therefore say “pneumonia” or “acute respiratory failure” although the cause of death was probably Covid-19.
Why Brazil is hit so hard
In many cities such as Manaus, Fortaleza, Recife, Belém and Rio de Janeiro, the health system is already overloaded or at the limit. There are several reasons why Brazil is hit so hard.
The governors of the 26 states introduced quarantine measures in March when the first corona cases appeared in São Paulo and Rio. Because the number of cases did not increase very much afterwards, false security spread.
Many people had no choice
Many people wondered what the whole thing was about and became careless. Covid-19 remained abstract, and life picked up speed again, especially in the poor neighborhoods, suburbs and many provincial towns. This is now taking revenge.
However, many people had no choice but to work. At least 40 million Brazilians (out of 210 million) work in the informal sector. They depend on selling something on the street every day, cleaning, or doing help.
The government is now paying them the equivalent of € 100 corona aid for three months, but the payment was and is accompanied by many breakdowns and has already led to enormous queues at the banks.
However, the one who makes it most difficult to provide a coherent response to the pandemic is Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. He encourages people to go back to work and recommends the use of the controversial malaria drug hydroxychloroquine.
Brazil’s second health minister in the midst of the pandemic, Nelson Teich, resigned after only 27 days last week. The office is now held by an army general. A dozen other posts in the Ministry of Health were filled with military personnel, none with expertise in the field.
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Bolsonaro literally sabotages the efforts of state governors to contain the virus. He does not save with insults, calls the rulers “dictators” and “bastards”. One consequence: According to studies, the virus spreads particularly quickly in places where Bolsonaro has a lot of approval.
The science journal “The Lancet” called the president the “greatest danger”. Bolsonaro’s concern is with the economy. This has been in a crisis since 2013, most recently there was a slight upward trend. It is now over. The current unemployment figure of 13 million could soon double and the largest economy in Latin America collapse by around ten percent.
More violence in Venezuela’s capital
In Venezuela, the country with the officially largest oil reserves, there is hardly any fuel left because there is a lack of own refineries, which often has to be imported. This exacerbates the already dramatic food shortage that Caracas becomes a massive increase in violence and crime reported.
In the past two months, the power outages in Venezuela have risen again by 11 percent, and water is lacking everywhere. The number of 824 corona infections and ten deathsWho died with or from Covid-19, hardly anyone believes.
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Hunger protests are violently prevented, the left-wing ruler Nicolás Maduro uses the corona crisis to consolidate its power. China is also helping, the country has sent dozens of doctors and, like Russia, hundreds of tons of relief supplies.
Maduro, who issued a bounty for the search with a bounty from the United States, also propagandistically exploits that despite everything, tens of thousands of people who have fled from misery are currently returning from Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. There they can hardly earn anything because of the lockdowns, in Venezuela the measures are lax.
Many infections despite curfew in Peru
The first Covid-19 case was detected in Peru on March 6, in a traveler from Europe, almost six weeks after the first case in Germany. Unlike in Brazil, there was early nationwide on March 16 an emergency and a nationwide quarantine President Martín Vizcarra has now extended this until May 24th.
Flights and long-distance bus services were discontinued, borders closed; and a complete curfew applies from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. The first loosening has occurred since May 4, children are allowed out once a day, restaurants can deliver food to their homes, mining and the textile industry gradually resume production.
Despite the measures, the number of corona cases has risen to over 104,000. Also because the struggling people in rural regions who no longer have an income continue to try to sell something.
So that is Peru is the second most affected country after the pandemic after Brazil in South America. According to the Ministry of Health, at least 3024 patients have died in connection with the lung disease Covid-19.
China sent hundreds of thousands of rapid tests
Up to seven million households are to receive support (Bono Familiar Universal) amounting to 760 soles (around 200 euros). In an emergency, Vizcarra turned primarily to China’s head of state Xi Jinping, who last spoke on the phone twice.
China is one of Peru’s most important trading partners – and as the first measure sent over 330,000 rapid corona tests and hundreds of thousands of protective masks.
In Peruvian media, it was noted that Vizcarra explicitly did not want to endorse US President Donald Trump’s criticism of China’s excessive influence on the World Health Organization (WHO). Dependencies could continue to grow as a result of the crisis.
Argentina’s Corona success at the expense of the economy
The country will be special, if you will hit hard by the prevention paradox. On the one hand, it is considered a success story in the fight against Covid-19 in South America – on the other hand, bankruptcy threatens now. In contrast to its big neighbor Brazil, the country imposed a preventive lockdown.
“You can recover from a dip in economic performance. Not from death “, Argentina’s Peronist President Alberto Fernandez justified the measure. Only grocery stores, supermarkets and pharmacies were allowed to open for a month and a half; the population had to stay within their own four walls.
The government used the time to prepare the health system for the pandemic The effect: the curve with the new infections flattened considerably – which is why the government has now started to relax the requirements. Argentina’s statistics show around 8,500 Covid 19 sufferers and nearly 900 deaths this week.
Around 85 percent of the cases are concentrated in the metropolitan area of the capital Buenos Aires, where around a third of the approximately 45 million Argentinians live. However, the poor were hit much harder than the rich. This is also because the water supply in some poor areas of Buenos Aires did not work for days.
Inflation at 50 percent
And: The success in the health field is now overshadowed of a deep economic crisis. Inflation is around 50 percent and the government is currently negotiating $ 65 billion in foreign debt, which it would like to have waived in two thirds.
If the negotiations fail, Argentina again faces bankruptcy in the midst of the corona pandemic, then the first country in the world due to the virus faults. The central government and state governors are pulling together here, unlike in Brazil.
And: The Peronist movement, which unites positions from right to left, still exerts a great force, especially on the working class.
The Bergamo of South America is in Ecuador
The Bergamo of South America is called Guayaquil. The port city with 2.6 million inhabitants is located on the coast of Ecuador and is the strongest business location in the country. The first Covid-19 case was registered here at the end of February: a 71-year-old woman who had returned from Spain two weeks earlier.
Neither she nor any other sick passengers were tested. At the end of March, Guayacil then recorded the most aggressive Covid 19 outbreak in South America. The city authorities were completely overwhelmed when Thousands of people fell ill and died within a few days.
Many of the dead were placed on the street by helpless relatives or wrapped in plastic sheets at home. The cemeteries could not keep up with the funerals, so the bodies were stored in cold stores while excavators excavated dozens of mass graves.
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The chaotic situation created additional resentment over the government of President Lenin Moreno, against whom there had already been violent protests in 2019. The government, in turn, blames the population for the uncontrolled outbreak because it did not comply with the quarantine requirements.
Today Ecuador has 17 million inhabitants nearly 33,000 Covid-19 cases and around 7,000 deaths, the vast majority in the Guayacil region. However, the number of unreported cases is likely to be much higher because Ecuador is not testing enough either.
Estimates assume three times more deaths than specified. In South America, Ecuador is one of the countries most affected by the virus in terms of population, and in some places the mortality rate is five times higher than in other years.