Brazil’s fragile health care system and densely populated cities threaten to turn the COVID-19 outbreak into a full-scale social collapse. President Jair Bolsonaro’s dismissal of the pandemic as a “little flu” is feeding dissent even among his allies — threatening to hasten the far-right leader’s downfall.
Matthew Richmond is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the London School of Economics’ Latin America and Caribbean Centre.
Bolsonaro doesn’t need an open military dictatorship to crush his opponents. As the “Colombian model” demonstrates, he can lean on violent paramilitaries to do the dirty work for him.
Jair Bolsonaro’s core support lies with wealthy Brazilians. But the far-right figure wouldn’t have gotten this far if he hadn’t also established a formidable base among the poor.