With state subsidies to fight poverty now
ended, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday said his
country is “broke” and he is unable to do anything about it, attributing the
crisis to “the press-fueled” coronavirus.
The subsidies which have kept millions of Brazilians from destitution
ended as the pandemic, which has killed almost 200,000 people in the country,
“Brazil is broke, boss, I cannot do anything,” the former army officer
said, responding to one of the supporters who greeted him in front of his
official residence in the capital Brasilia.
“I wanted to modify the tax reduction table, but there was that press-
fueled virus that we have there, that press without any character,” Bolsonaro
The reform he was referring to was a campaign promise for a raise in the
level of tax-exempt income. Bolsonaro attributes the country’s economic
collapse to lockdown measures pushed by state governors to combat the
Despite his country’s soaring death toll, Bolsonaro saw his popularity
rise thanks to emergency aid paid out for nine months to 68 million
Brazilians, almost a third of the population.
But those payments ended this month under pressure from markets worried
about the country’s high deficit and debt.
Marcelo Neri, director of the Center for Social Policies of the Getulio
Vargas Foundation (FGV), warned Brazil may be “on the edge of a social
“No matter how strong the president’s words are, I see them as a
rhetorical argument to politically prepare for cuts in emergency spending and
trying to balance public spending,” said Andre Perfeito, of investment group
“The situation is serious,” said Perfeito, who noted that “the central
problem is not the lack of money, but the lack of a clear plan” in a country
that still does not have a start date for vaccinations against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the number of new infections and deaths continued to climb.
In the last 24 hours, the South American giant logged 1,171 deaths and
almost 60,000 new cases, numbers that should skyrocket in the coming weeks
due to the massive celebrations that took place over the Christmas and New
Year holidays, according to health officials.