Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, nicknamed “The Trump of the Tropics,” has replicated his political idol’s response to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic with similarly disastrous results.
Bolsonaro reportedly told staff and visitors to his office that “wearing masks is a f**got thing,” according to journalist Mônica Bergamo. Within days, he tested positive for COVID-19.
Taking another cue from Trump, Bolsonaro has touted the drug hydroxychloroquine. The drug has not been proven effective against the virus and has dangerous side effects. Trump has also claimed to have taken the drug and refuses to wear a mask.
“I’m doing much better than I was. It’s working,” he said during a video posted on social media from quarantine. “I’m one more person it’s working on. I trust hydroxychloroquine.”
Brazil is one of the most ravaged countries during the pandemic as Bolsonaro has refused to follow or institute procedures to curb the spread of the virus. Over 68,000 people have died and 1.7 million have been infected.
Known for his cruelty to indigenous people, Bolsonaro took it a step further on Wednesday when he vetoed part of a law that required the government to provide drinking water, disinfectants, and a guarantee of hospital beds for the population.
Brazil’s indigenous people live in remote areas of the country with little access to modern medical facilities and their style of living doesn’t make social distancing possible. The population is at particular risk from the virus.