Since the Covid-19 pandemic reached Brazil, far-right president Jair Bolsonaro has constantly played down what he considers a "little flu", denouncing the "hysteria" of the media and openly disregarding the recommendations the World Health Organization (WHO) as the alerts of his own Minister of Health, which he got rid of on April 16, in the middle of a health crisis.

While part of the population sided with the president, several big entrepreneurs encouraged the Brazilians to continue working to save the economy of the country.

But faced with the threat, the governors of the country's 26 states have taken the lead and adopted local protection measures. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, one of the most affected by the pandemic, Governor Wilson Witzel imposed confinement as early as mid-March. A real war operation has taken place in Rio: eight field hospitals are being built, with a view to the peak of Covid-19 scheduled for the end of May.

For his part, Jair Bolsonaro calls for a "return to normality", for the reopening of shops and regularly posts videos of his Sunday walks on his social networks, in which he goes to meet his supporters or street vendors in Brasilia.

Corona and favela, the new war

Many inhabitants of Rio however plead for a disciplined confinement ... In the overcrowded favelas, most houses have only one room for five to eight people and do not always have access to running water. While the first cases have been detected there, the only visible presence of the authorities is the town's sanitation company, which cleans the main tracks with a karcher. A measure that seems derisory given the magnitude of the problem.

Ana Paula, a street vendor and mother of two in the Babilonia favela, has no soap or alcohol to protect her children. She can only count on the help of Rafael Rodrigues, president of the association of residents, who collects donations with the young volunteers of the favela to distribute baskets of essentials. Andrea is about to receive the aid finally voted by the Congress: 110 euros per person for three months. But without a bank account, touching this aid is an obstacle course ...

While the absence of the state is becoming glaring in the favelas, some gang leaders take matters into their own hands and ensure compliance with the rules of distancing and hygiene in their community. War, they know it. But this time, the enemy is invisible. The famous Terceiro Comando, one of the most powerful factions in the country, has even decided to impose a curfew. Its members explain that they have implemented traffic restrictions in one of the largest favelas in the city.

In Paraisópolis, the largest favela in São Paulo, Gilson, the president of the residents' association, has found the solution: the money saved from the association will be used to hire a team of doctors, nurses and Full-time Liberal paramedics to care for the sick and take them to the nearest hospital for serious breathing problems. Not enough to buy a respirator, but it is the only solution, according to Gilson: "Resourcefulness is our watchword in the favela. The president considers us as cattle, good to die, so the union must make the strength !"

>> To see, our special program: "The coronavirus, amplifier of inequalities in Latin America"

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