By: F. Lebl
This article was written prior to Mandetta's demission on the 16th of April 2020.
Even amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, Brazil is not ridden of political polarity and ideological clashes. The most recent, and possibly most controversial, is the feud between the President, Jair Bolsonaro, and the (incumbent during the writing of this article) Minister of Health, Luiz Henrique Mandetta. The clash is based upon the policy of quarantine, and fundamentally, what is more important: the virus' containment or the economy's maintaining.
First of all: who is Mandetta? Mandetta was a member of the Chamber, serving two consecutive terms and a Mata Grosso do Sul representative for the Democrat Party (DEM). Before his role in the federal government, he was the health secretary of the city of Campo Grande, where he focused his time and resources on fighting Dengue. He was nominated to be the Health Minister in late 2018. As a minister, Mandetta implemented the project Médicos pelo Brasil, alongside Bolsonaro.
The first sign of a dispute was when Bolsonaro greeted hundreds of supporters in the president's office/palace on the 15th of March, going against the Health ministry's orientations. On the 24th of March Bolsonaro called for the end of quarantine, while, on the following day, Mandetta affirmed that “We need to improve this quarantine thing,".
Tension escalated shortly after when Bolsonaro, on the 27th, launched the campaign 'Brazil can't stop, which was followed by a statement made by the Minister of Health saying that 'Decisions were only to be made under scientific basis'. During a radio interview with the president on the 2nd of April, Bolsonaro said that Mandetta was 'not being humble' and was 'acting against the Brazilian people', hinting towards the Minister's removal from his position.
The situation heated up with contrary views from both the president and the Minister of health. Mandetta was interviewed on the 12th of April by the Fantastico program and told the interviewer Brazilians don't know whether to listen to the Minister or the president (“Brasileiro não sabe se escuta o Ministro ou o Presidente”).
We must carefully follow this ideological battle between two leading members of the Brazilian federal executive power. Mandetta has become most influential during the Coronavirus pandemic and has become the face of the quarantine movement. The question remains: will Mandetta be fired or not?
Today, on the 15th of April, Mandetta dwelled on his possible demission by the president during a press conference. I have been closely following the political feud caused by the situation, and I agree that someday soon, possibly as early as tomorrow, Mandetta will be fired from his position and unfortunately discredited from all his work for the health ministry.