Bolsonaro under fire as Brazil hits 300,000 virus deaths

Bolsonaro under fire as Brazil hits 300,000 virus deaths


SAO PAULO (AP) — Mere miles from Brazil’s presidential palace, the bodies of COVID-19 victims were laid on floors of hospitals whose morgues were overflowing. Lawmakers fielded calls from panicked constituents across the country, where thousands awaited intensive care beds, and they had no effective health minister to turn to Sunday.

Meanwhile, a smiling President Jair Bolsonaro met hundreds of supporters to pass out pieces of green-and-yellow cake in celebration of his 66th birthday. The mood was jubilant even as the country approached a bleak coronavirus milestone.

Brazil was in political disarray as it surpassed 300,000 deaths from the virus Wednesday evening. Foes and allies alike are pleading with the president to change course to stem a recent surge of daily deaths accounting for almost one-third of the total worldwide.

Bolsonaro this month began shifting rhetoric on the value of vaccines but continues to refuse restrictions on activity he paints as infringement on personal freedom and still promotes unproven COVID-19 cures.

“Should I change my narrative? Should I become more malleable? Should I give in? Do what the vast majority is doing?” Bolsonaro said Monday during a ceremony at the presidential palace. “If I am convinced to do otherwise, I will. But I haven’t been convinced yet. We must fight against the virus, not against the president.”

Lawmakers have been seeking ways to prevail upon Bolsonaro. As hospital systems collapse and crucial supplies run dry, four lower house lawmakers told the Associated Press their constituents are calling them his “accomplices.” Two are members of allied parties and spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak freely.

“There is a lot of solidarity, but everything has its limit. Everything,” the house's speaker, Bolsonaro ally Arthur Lira, said...

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