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Op-Ed by Damian Koch

Original Article by Ernesto Londono, Published by The New York Times, July 7th 2020


The news of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro being tested for the coronavirus came with immense controversial emotions. You never want to wish for anyone to experience the sickness of a terrible disease that is ravaging the world, let alone a president. In the case of a world leader who has been criticized for joking remarks on the virus, it changes one’s opinions on that previous statement. President Bolsonaro’s reckless response to the virus has allowed for the spread of the virus and harsh rise of infectious numbers. Keeping in mind the reasons for why he might act the way he does is important to think about.  

By stating that the virus has no harsh effect on those infected and downplaying the use of masks, Bolsonaro as a leader is personally responsible for the spread of harmful misinformation. But why might someone think this way? Some speculate that it may be caused by fear and ignorance. Ignorance can often be a cofactor to fear, as when we fear something it tends to make us want to act irrationally and go against basic rational thought as a coping mechanism. Some states that English Prime Minister Boris Johnson may have acted similarly, but as stated in the article, he had a change of thought after testing positive for the virus and recovering in emergency care. After feeling the seriousness of the illness, it makes sense that somebody would have a change of thought and would want to make sure that no other people would fall upon similar illness. Whether President Bolsonaro will feel the same is up to debate.

The president has already been caught with the controversy of supporting hydroxychloroquine, which has been deemed to be dangerous for treating covid 19 symptoms. Some speculate that the main manufacturer of hydroxychloroquine in Brazil is an avid supporter and donor to the Bolsonaro campaign, which gives more reason for why President Bolsonaro would support the drug in the first place. An even darker reasoning for Bolsonaro’s feign ignorance is because the pandemic provides a natural way of dealing with the overpopulation and economic issues that Brazil has been facing for the past decade. The Brazilian president could be purposely allowing the virus to run freely and cause a decline in the population and kill off the poorest parts of the country. Those in poor and highly dense areas of the country are the ones that are most vulnerable to the virus and also the ones that will have the hardest time finding appropriate healthcare. Bolsonaro could very well be mascarding that the virus is harmless because he wants the people to think exactly that, thus maximizing the death toll and solving many of Brazil’s overpopulation issues. It would also allow Brazil’s economy to stagger less than the rest of the worlds as people continue to work despite the pandemic. With the poorest of the nation being the most vulnerable and natural solution to many of the president’s problems, the downplaying of the corona virus could very well be purposeful for the long term goals of a twisted administration. 

Now, it is controversial to paint a president of one of the world’s largest nations as a villain, but with the trends he has set, it almost seems more reasonable to. Ernesto Londono’s article does a great job of stating the state of the nation and giving overall facts to President Bolsonaro’s response, but it never stated why he might be acting this way. To state that a President may be willing to diabolically allow his citizens to die for the sake of an improved economy is rash, but is something that has to be said. It is important to discuss and talk about because it leads to further discussion and debate. The next step is to see how Bolsonaro deals with the sickness and watch his response after, all while keeping in mind what might be the reasoning behind his actions.