President Jair Bolsonaro, who opposes coronavirus lockdown measures imposed by Brazilian cities and states, rallied with his supporters Sunday, as Washington said it had sent two million doses of a controversial unproven COVID-19 drug.
But Bolsonaro met a tightly packed throng of supporters outside the government palace in the capital Brasilia. The crowd chanted “myth! myth! myth!” — echoing the president’s dismissal of the virus pandemic.
Bolsonaro, often described as the “Trump of the Tropics,” got help from the real Donald Trump on Sunday in the form of two million doses of the antimalarial medicine hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to fight COVID-19.
President Trump is an outspoken fan of HCQ, which has been used to treat malaria and some autoimmune disorders for decades.
However there is currently no evidence showing that HCQ can be used either to treat or prevent the novel coronavirus — and there are fears that it may worsen patient’s outcomes.
Like Trump, Bolsonaro is an HCQ advocate and has even fired two health ministers who clashed with him over his desire to expand its use.
– Sao Paulo street fighting –
On the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, Bolsonaro supporters fought with pro-democracy demonstrators.
Some 500 demonstrators, mostly dressed in black and wearing facemasks, marched carrying banners that read “We are for Democracy” and “Against Fascism,” facing off with a smaller group of pro-Bolsonaro activists.
The march was organized by football club fan groups, especially Corinthians — which during the final years of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship period and led by superstar Socrates was active in the civil rights movement.
Riot police failed to keep the rival groups apart, and fired tear gas in an attempt to break up the fracas.
© 2020 AFP