The wooden house withstands the strong winds and torrential rains that these months shake the Brazilian Amazon and all its extension. That’s a quiet and beautiful place, full of fauna and native vegetation, 38 km from Santarém, in the Pará State. Miguel, a 32-year-old Spanish boy, lives there.
Miguel left his hometown to move to Sao Paulo last January. Due to the current health crisis, he had to stop his trip renting a house in Santarém, where he was when the Brazilian “state of calamity” was declared, waiting for the first flights to go back to Spain.
How is going there regarding the coronavirus?
In Santarém, so far, the situation is calm. However, in the rest of
I have heard that there have been contagions in the indigenous populations, so they are creating their sanitary measures to avoid infection. The indigenous people can plant and fish, as they have always done, but the traditional activity of selling fish and agricultural products in the city is not an option. They continue crossing the river and going to the town to buy food, but always following hygiene precautions.
How is society behaving?
In Santarém, the use of gloves and mask is now mandatory. People are becoming aware of the seriousness of the matter. However, they continue with their daily routines of going out and going to work. Latin America is not Europe. If you don’t open your business, you don’t eat; people don’t have savings or subsidies for the unemployed. In Brazil, unemploying means crime. Robbery, kidnapping, even murder. You have to survive. Brazil cannot be close.
How is the Brazilian healthcare? Do you think it could cope with this pandemic?
The public system is deficient in workers and services. The health system is not able to cope with the pandemic. The private network is a way better, but almost no one can afford it. There are no tools here. People are dying without being get tested. The humblest people are the most vulnerable and probably the ones who will get sick first.
Is confinement obligatory?
Confinement is already mandatory, but people are still in the street and shops are still open. Everything is as usual, although every day the number of infected and dead people rises dramatically. The favelas are completely unprotected against the coronavirus since the population lacks water and food, which makes the conditions in these places highly unhealthy. Furthermore, crime is gaining control where politics can’t keep it.
Millions of Brazilians do not have essential tools and live in thousands of favelas where following basic sanitary recommendations – such as frequent handwashing with soap – is just impossible. Working from home is not an option for families who share one or two poorly ventilated rooms or when feeding the family requires going outside every day. In these overcrowded communities, where few trust the authorities, even the most basic infrastructure is often lacking, and people live up to date.
The Brazilian gouvernment
What do you think of Bolsonaro’s measures?
Bolsonaro continues to deny the severity of the pandemic. He wants everyone to continue working, saying that “hunger kills more than the virus”. Therefore, he’s encouraging his citizens to unfollow the Minister of Health, trying to ignore the health warnings and hiding the severity of the pandemic. Money and profits are more important. The economy mustn’t stop, no matter if millions of people are losing their lives.
A few days ago, Flavio Bolsonaro – one of his sons engaged in politics – released a video: “Brazil cannot stop (using the Portuguese hashtag #obrasilnãopodeparar). People need to continue working to keep the country safe and the economy growing”. This video – which minimized protective measures – has been removed from social media almost immediately, following an initiative of a federal judge. The Brazilian strategy could cost many lives, and that cannot be allowed.
The government should prioritize people, considering urgent measures and taking care of citizens’ health.