Brazil, Competing Narratives on Covid-19 Persist

On 11 June, Brazil’s national death toll from coronavirus (Covid-19) rose by 1,239 to a total of 40,919, while the number of confirmed cases increased by 30,412 to a cumulative 802,828, according to the federal health ministry.
Brazil Covid-19 economic reopening


Brazil’s steep infection curve reinforces warnings from health experts that the country’s public health emergency is far from over. Despite this, local authorities in Brazil are pushing forward with plans for economic reopening, on the one hand; and President Jair Bolsonaro maintains that the epidemiological situation is not as bad as it seems, on the other.

  • Shopping centres reopened yesterday, with reduced hours, in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The two eponymous states began plans for easing isolation measures at the beginning of June, despite having the highest numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country, and with no sign that the outbreak is easing. There has notably been pressure from the retail sector for shops to re-open ahead of the Dia dos Namorados, the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day, today (12 June).
  • During his weekly Facebook Live transmission yesterday, Bolsonaro cast doubt over the figures reported for Covid-19, saying he has information suggesting that the number of fatalities is inflated. This is not the first time that Bolsonaro has accused state health authorities of inflating figures for political ends, while yesterday he denied accusations that his government had tried to manipulate numbers after a recent controversy over its Covid-19 data.
  • Bolsonaro then encouraged his online supporters to go and film inside field hospitals, saying such images would help assess if emergency hospital beds are indeed occupied and if funds are being spent correctly.
  • An incident in the city of Rio yesterday illustrated the polarisation fuelled by Bolsonaro’s narrative. After activists from local NGO Rio de Paz dug 100 symbolic graves on Copacabana beach to commemorate the country’s Covid-19 victims and demand more action from the federal government, a group of Bolsonaro supporters mocked the activists, and one knocked over some of the crosses marking the symbolic graves.
Looking Ahead:

Brazil is on track to shortly overtake the United Kingdom as the country with the second highest number of deaths from Covid-19, while the number of cases is likely to top 1m within a week.

In brief: Latam seeks Brazil’s approval for joint venture with Delta

* The Brazilian subsidiary of Latam Airlines Group has approached Brazil’s anti-trust regulator (Cade) for the approval of a joint venture agreement with US carrier Delta Airlines. The signature of a trans-American joint venture agreement between Delta and Latam (and Latam’s subsidiaries) was announced on 7 May. Pending approval from local regulators, such as Cade in Brazil, this agreement will combine the carriers’ route networks between North and South America. The launch of a strategic alliance between Delta and Latam was agreed upon last year, and both companies have stressed that it remains important for the sustainability of their business in the long term, despite the uncertainty in the air travel sector caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Jerome Cadier, CEO of Latam Brasil, noted that the joint venture will help the carrier “emerge from this global crisis...stronger, more dynamic and more competitive”. Latam filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US in late May, although its Brazilian subsidiary is not concerned.