Having become the epicenter of the Covid-19 epidemic, Brazil worries its neighbors

In Buenos Aires, on May 30, during a demonstration demanding the end of the containment put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
In Buenos Aires, on May 30, during a demonstration demanding the end of the containment put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Natacha Pisarenko / AP

Over 14,000 km of borders with ten countries. And more than half a million cases of Covid-19 – a collective of scientists estimates this figure between 4.2 and 6 million. The South American giant of 210 million inhabitants has become one of the major concerns of its neighbors – including France -, while it is now the second country in the world with the highest number of cases, after the United States. United. The 30,000 mark was crossed Tuesday, June 2, with 1,263 new deaths in one day, a record.

However, Jair Bolsonaro’s government continues to play down the situation. No confinement has been decreed at the national level. The few measures taken locally were only very partially followed up. And local authorities, under pressure and out of breath economically, started on Monday 1er June, the reopening of shops and activities, particularly in the States of Sao Paulo and Rio.

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Brasilia has taken the opposite view from the rest of the continent. Several countries in the region are indeed preparing to break the longest containment records: after yet another extension, until June 30, Peru will count one hundred and sixty days of quarantine. Colombia ninety-seven. By June 4, Argentines will have spent as much confined time as the residents of Wuhan, China: seventy-seven days.

” Tight relationships “

Argentine presidents Alberto Fernandez (center left) and Brazilian presidents, who have icy relationships, define each other as a counterexample in response to the epidemic. As of June 2, Argentina has recorded more than 18,000 cases and 569 deaths. In a radio interview in early May, Fernandez said that governments that have chosen to prioritize economic activity over the health of their residents have “Ended up accumulating the dead in refrigerated trucks and burying them in mass graves”, an allusion to images of hastily dug graves in cemeteries in Manaus. On May 28, Jair Bolsonaro responded: “Look where Argentina is going, who would like that for Brazil? “, in reference to the economic consequences that should result from the epidemic and confinement in its neighbor, which has already been going through a serious crisis since 2018.

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“Relations were already relatively tense between the two countries before the epidemic, mainly due to the different political colors of the heads of state, says Daniel Blinder, Argentine researcher at the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research. It is problematic that there is not more logistical cooperation to help contain the epidemic. “ For Argentina, of which Brazil is the largest trading partner, the lack of coordination with its neighbor is also likely to worsen the already dire economic situation.

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