By Satyaki Chakraborty
Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) is set to file papers for the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the Covid-19 crisis, saying that he “no longer works with this government.”
The party said at the weekend that its executive had “decided to submit to the Chamber of Deputies a collective impeachment petition” which is believed to be backed by a range of organisations and individuals.
The move came following the resignation of Brazilian health minister Nelson Teich less than a month after he took office.
He submitted his resignation on Friday morning via WhatsApp but did not explain the reasons for his decision.
He had previously been criticised by Mr Bolsonaro for urging caution over the relaxing of lockdown measures and reopening businesses.
In a press statement later that day, he said: “Life is made of choices, and today I chose to leave. I did the best I could in this period.
“It is not simple to be at the head of such a ministry at such a difficult time. I want to thank my team that has always worked intensively for this country.”
His announcement came as Brazil recorded more than 220,291 positive cases and around 14,962 deaths, becoming one of the most affected countries in the world.
Mr Bolsonaro sacked previous health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta in April following a clash over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
PT president Gleisi Hoffmann confirmed the impeachment case would be brought this week, saying that Mr Bolsonaro “was incapable of responding to the crisis we are experiencing and has neither the conditions nor the administrative and human capacity to run the country.
“He fights with the whole world, and does not protect the Brazilian people.”
Facing a criminal investigation that could oust him from office, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is courting political power brokers he once decried as corrupt in a bid to survive a crisis worsened by his handling of the coronavirus epidemic.
Clashes between governors and the president over coronavirus lockdowns have been intensified. On Tuesday, Bolsonaro once again defied governors’ protests against his decree to reopen gyms and hair salons, telling the governors to sue him if they are so against it.
Bolsonaro’s latest decree widening the list of businesses considered “essential,” announced late on Monday, was in line with his view that the economic damage and lost jobs from shuttered businesses are worse than the effects of the virus itself.
The controversial move came even as the number of cases and deaths in Brazil continue to rise. At the current pace, Brazil is expected to surpass the number of cases in Germany and France to become the world’s sixth hardest hit country as early as Tuesday.
The Brazilian Supreme Court had previously ruled that state and local governments have the authority to order businesses to close in the face of the pandemic. Bolsonaro, however, has used his presidential powers to declare an increasingly wide array of establishments as “essential,” allowing them to operate despite the lockdown.
At least 10 governors have said they will not follow his latest decree declaring that gyms, beauty salons, industrial production and civil construction are essential.
“Governors who do not agree with the decree can file lawsuits in court,” Bolsonaro wrote on social media.
Alternatively, the governors can appeal to Congress to take action to change the law, the president wrote.
Bolsonaro’s popularity has plummeted since the outbreak began in Brazil. A poll released on Tuesday showed that 43 percent of Brazilians thought he was doing a “bad or terrible” job, up from 31 percent in January.
The poll conducted by the MDA research institute and sponsored by transit association CNT also showed more Brazilians approve of how states are handling the virus than how the federal government was reacting.
The dramatic resignation last month of Bolsonaro’s star justice minister, who accused the far-right leader of seeking to meddle in police enquiries, prompted an investigation authorized by the Supreme Court, which may test the president’s threadbare coalition. (IPA Service)