If there is anyone in the world whose entire shtick seems to be saying “Hold my beer” to anything said or done by Donald Trump, it’s Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro. Like Trump, Bolsonaro was elected on a promise that he was going to gift his nation with economic growth by getting rid of useless environmental regulations, like those that suggested it was wrong to kill Amazonian natives wholesale and drive them from their lands with fire. Bolsonaro also topped Trump on the “lock her up” stage, with a simple promise to his supporters that he would arrest or kill all members of one opposing party while declaring the members of another terrorists. Analysts did a fine job of pointing out that Bolsonaro’s “propaganda campaign has taken a page straight from the Nazi playbook.”
Bolsonaro has also seemed determined to trump Trump on the COVID-19 crisis. He has continually downplayed the threat, even when his people in Brazil began dying at a rate that required whole new cemeteries to go into high-speed construction. Bolsonaro has continued to travel the country, criticize medical experts, and insist on shaking hands and hugging his female supporters while sneering at “the little flu.” On Monday, Bolsonaro used Brazil’s line item veto rules to allow the pro-business parts of a COVID-19 relief package to pass while cutting out the sections that would have provided relief funds to individuals, extended unemployment for hard hit industries, and prevented those who got sick from COVID-19 from losing their jobs while recovering. A few hours later, Bolsonaro went to the hospital with symptoms of the disease.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro has made it a habit to spend part of his day badgering governors, mayors, and local officials who have instituted lockdowns, or done anything else to protect their communities. Just three days ago, that resulted in Rio de Janeiro reopening over the past weekend and restrictions being cut everywhere.
Bolsonaro’s symptoms were first reported on Monday evening by CNN Brasil, and on Tuesday morning the Brazilian government confirmed that the president had indeed tested positive.
“There’s no problem,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “It’s natural. There’s no dread. It’s life.”
To demonstrate this complete lack of dread, Bolsonaro then removed his mask and continued speaking to reporters, claiming “I’m fine” and inviting them to look at his face. Because that’s exactly what you do when you’re COVID-19 positive. And, if Bolsonaro wasn’t already challenging the White House to a Trump-off, he made it clear by informing reporters that he’s treating the disease by taking a combination of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin.
Bolsonaro may be bidding for top honors in the jackwipe awards, but Brazil remains in second place when it comes to COVID-19. As of Tuesday, they were logging 1.6 million cases and 66,000 deaths—in both cases, about half the numbers in the U.S. However, it’s widely accepted that Bolsonaro is wildly underreporting both sets of numbers. So even on that front, he’s coming for Trump.
And Brazil, of course. Bolsonaro really means to #$%@ up Brazil.