Jair Bolsonaro has never been more popular in Brazil, despite his woeful handling of the coronavirus pandemic

  • Jair Bolsonaro, president of Brazil, hit an all-time high approval rating in late September.
  • 40% of Brazilians regard Bolsonaro as "good/excellent," the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics found.
  • In comparison, he polled at 29% in December 2019, when Brazil did not have a single case of COVID-19.
  • Bolsonaro has been criticized for underestimating the virus and his government is accused of covering up the real death toll.
  • His popularity is attributed to an emergency scheme launched in April, subsidizing tens of millions with cash payments of up to $217 per month.
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President Jair Bolsonaro has never been more popular in Brazil, despite his country's woeful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the virus on July 7, has dismissed it as a "little flu" 

Brazil passed five million COVID-19 cases on Tuesday and recorded its 150,000th death on Saturday. has

But 40% of Brazilians surveyed across 127 municipalities in September regarded Bolsonaro as "good/excellent," according to a study from the Brazilian Institute of Public Opinion and Statistics.

In comparison, he polled at 29% in December 2019, when Brazil did not have a single case of COVID-19.

His success, BIPOS said, can be largely attributed to a scheme launched in April which saw a monthly emergency aid payment of between $108 and $217 given to single mothers.

Sixty-seven million Brazilians receive the stipend,

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends his supporters during a protest in favor of the government and and against the lockdown in front of the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on May 3, 2020.Andre Borges/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The payments are part of a $58 billion cash injection into the Brazilian economy, Reuters reported.

His success is remarkable given that Bolsonaro has with regularity been criticized in the domestic and international media for making wild claims about the virus and trying to cover up the true extent of his country's outbreak.

On March 26, Bolsonaro suggested that Brazilians were by nature immune to some diseases, and therefore the coronavirus was not a concern.

The same week, Facebook and Twitter removed videos of Bolsonaro endorsing the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment.

Touted by Donald Trump, the drug has been shunned by many medical experts, who say it has dangerous side effects.

In April, when asked his reaction to news that a new record for daily deaths had been set, Bolsonaro said: "So what?" In June, the Health Ministry deleted months of data from its official COVID-19 tracker, and Bolsonaro was accused of censorship.

The following month, a group of Brazilian journalists sued Bolsonaro after removing his mask in their company while still infectious with the coronavirus.

While Brazil is the third-worst affected country by the pandemic, its outbreak appears to be relenting.

The popular emergency payments were halved last month and are due to be phased out in December. But Bolonasara has promised to create a new scheme, "Citizen's Income," in 2021,  including elements of the emergency aid, according to the Guardian.

 

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