Bolsonaro announces new steps to address economic impact

Brasilia, April 2 (IANS) Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has announced new steps to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic after a telephone conversation with his American counterpart, Donald Trump.

“I spoke with Donald Trump and exchanged information about a problem that is global,” he said ON Wednesday, promising an additional 110 billion reais ($22 billion) in spending to “preserve jobs” and aid states and municipalities, reports Efe news.

Brazil leads Latin America with 5,717 confirmed coronavirus cases and 201 fatalities.

Bolsonaro, whose initial reaction to the outbreak was to accuse the media of sensationalism and denounce Brazil’s state governors for imposing lockdowns to stop the spread, called the pandemic as “greatest challenge of this generation” in a televised address onTuesday night.

But he returned to social media on Wednesday morning to reiterate his criticism of lockdowns and post a video of an empty warehouse in the city of Belo Horizonte.

The video’s unidentified narrator says that the warehouse, adjacent to a food market, ran out of supplies because of transport restrictions imposed by state governors.

The Agriculture Ministry denied the existence of lockdown-related shortages and after media outlets published images from Wednesday showing the warehouse fully stocked and operating normally, Bolsonaro removed the video from his social media pages.

The President has already seen Twitter, Facebook and Instagram take down videos he posted after determining that they constituted disinformation.

Last week, Bolsonaro went so far as to issue executive orders rolling back some of the containment measures enacted by cities and states, but federal courts rendered the decrees null and void.

When the governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state and industrial heartland, imposed sweeping restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, Bolsonaro denounced him as a “lunatic”.