"I have to be with the people"

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro defended on Monday his decision to participate in a mass act amid the coronavirus pandemic and maintained that his obligation at the moment is "to be with the people."

"If the people go to the door of the (presidential) Palace, I have to be next to the people, I have to show that I am with them," the president said in an interview with Bandeirantes radio.

Bolsonaro thus explained his attendance at an event organized by his followers this Sunday, which was part of some demonstrations that were held in almost the entire country in support of his government.

The protests were also called to put pressure on both Congress and the Judiciary, which in recent months have halted various controversial initiatives promoted by the government of the far-right leader, such as the release of arms sales to civil society.

Bolsonaro, who last week was suspected of having contracted the coronavirus on a trip to Miami, was negative in the tests he underwent and this Sunday hundreds of people were hugged outside the presidential palace.

That attitude was condemned by dozens of the country's political leaders and contradicted even the prevention measures promoted by the Government itself through the Ministry of Health, which added to the criticism for the call for demonstrations.

"I am feeling very well," said Bolsonaro, who also confirmed that this Tuesday he will undergo a new examination to rule out any suspicion of coronavirus.

The president assured that Brazil is "prepared" for the threat posed by COVID-19, of which about 200 cases have been registered so far in the country, without any deaths.

Still, he acknowledged that "there will be difficulties" and announced that the Government has already alerted the Armed Forces to the possible need to install "field military hospitals" in various regions of the country.

He also admitted that the gradual paralysis of the world economy will have an impact in Brazil that cannot yet be calculated.

"That is quite worrying. Our forecast (for growth) was 2.2%, but now it will be difficult to come to that," he said.

"We are going to have difficulties," said Bolsonaro, although he also stressed that Brazil continues to be a great producer of food globally and that, despite the pandemic, "the world will have to continue eating."


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