RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested negative for the coronavirus on two occasions, but many, including a federal judge, are demanding that he share the results. However, the president has refused.
The confrontation is the latest in a broader battle between a president who has often tested the limits of his power and democratic institutions. There are concerns that when Bolsonaro discounts, it could spark a constitutional crisis.
The president has minimized the coronavirus pandemic and has strongly criticized the measures imposed by governors and mayors to control the spread of the virus. Instead, he asks that most people go back to work.
But the courts have limited it, on this issue and others: They have ruled that the governors and mayors have the power to determine the measures of confinement; They have revoked the president’s decree allowing religious gatherings and are trying to force the release of their COVID-19 test results to end speculation that he may have lied. They also repelled their nominee to occupy the leadership of the national police and on Saturday suspended their decision to expel 30 Venezuelan diplomats from the country.
Bolsonaro’s supporters have said the decisions are part of a plot to defeat his presidency, and the president himself said he is a victim of interference by obstructionist judges.
“Enough with the meddling. We are not going to allow more intrusions! ”Said the president on Sunday. “Patience is exhausted. We are going to take Brazil forward. “
Analysts noted that court decisions place restrictions on a populist who is testing democratic limits and has shown that he is not afraid to take his legal disputes to the streets when he is not happy with the courts.
Bolsonaro and his supporters have frequently criticized the courts when they narrow their power. They recently condemned a judge’s decision to block the nomination of a new director of the federal police, who is considered by many to be too close to the Bolsonaro family.
Even some critics, such as former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, believe that Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court went too far in that instance.
The highest court also approved an investigation into whether the appointment constituted illegal political interference.
The dispute over their coronavirus test results has created a particularly unusual chapter. Bolsonaro’s health concerns began in March, when the president returned from a trip to the United States and local media reported in the following weeks that more than a dozen members of his delegation had tested positive for COVID-19.
The first unconfirmed reports indicated that Bolsonaro had tested positive, but later announced on his social networks that his results were negative. He has refused to release the actual document, citing medical privacy.
Last week, a federal judge in Sao Paulo ordered Bolsonaro to present the results in response to a request by the O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper. Instead, Bolsonaro’s attorney general sent a summary of the results. The judge again insisted on the actual results and on Saturday, another judge gave Bolsonaro five days to provide them.
Bolsonaro has also messed things up recently. After the lawsuits, he said last week that “perhaps” he had contracted the virus without knowing it.
All this time, Bolsonaro has continued to appear in public, without wearing a mask, addressing crowds and shaking hands with supporters, once after cleaning his nose.
Although a positive result may not affect support among its most recalcitrant supporters, it may erode that of a moderate sector, a portion of the population that are not loyal followers but who believe that its policies are reasonable, said Lucas de Aragão, a partner in the firm. consulting firm Arko Advice.