Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday accused the speaker of the lower house of Congress Rodrigo Maia of turning state governors against him in the coronavirus crisis and seeking to remove him from the presidency.
Bolsonaro fired Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta on Thursday, saying he was not adequately taking the economic fallout from coronavirus lockdowns into consideration.
In an interview with CNN Brasil, Bolsonaro appealed to the governors to rethink their quarantine restrictions to allow the economy to breathe, warning that Brazil risked going broke and ending up “the same as Venezuela.”
Maia, who defended Mandetta’s insistence on social distancing to curb the epidemic, told CNN Brasil separately that the country’s Congress was passing the legislation needed to pull the economy through the crisis and accused the president of playing politics.
Maia said the firing of Mandetta in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak scared most Brazilians. The virus has killed roughly 400 people in Brazil in the last 48 hours.