Bolsonaro sacks Health Minister amid the pandemic
Relationship between the two soured during the coronavirus crisis; another physician is set to take over
Brazilian Health Minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, was fired by president Jair Bolsonaro this Thursday (16th) afternoon. The removal was confirmed by the Mandetta himself, via his official Twitter account and later a press briefing.
The now former Minister praised his team at the Health Ministry and didn’t go into details about the firing, nor did he comment on his disagreements with the president that led to it.
“I leave this office knowing I have left the best team behind. Work for the next Minister as you have worked with me, don’t hold back”, stated Mandetta.
Before leaving, the physician reinforced his technical discourse, which distanced him from Bolsonaro when he was in office. “Nothing else matters besides the unwavering defense of life, of our National Health System, and of science. Stick to the three pillars, because with their help you have achieved everything. Place all your bets on science, don’t be narrow minded, think outside the box. Science is our beacon”.
The layoff comes on the heels of a series of public spats between Bolsonaro and Mandetta. The attrition began as soon as the coronavirus pandemic arrived in Brazil – while the Minister maintained a more thoughtful posture, emulating the guidance set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), the president decided to pander to the interests of his political sphere, suggesting his own guidelines for the population to follow, which on many occasions were contrary to the recommendations from the Health Ministry.
Since the rift began, the president has threatened to sack the Minister at least twice. He also took to criticizing him publicly – saying that Mandetta should be more humble.
Another issue that might have influenced Bolsonaro’s decision was the threat to his popularity that Luiz Henrique Mandetta posed. A poll conducted by Datafolha on Friday (3rd) showed that 76% of those polled approved of the Minister’s handling of the pandemic, while 39% disapproved of the president’s posture.
Who is Mandetta?
A licensed orthopedist and Federal Congressman, Mandetta comes from a traditionalist right wing family from the state of Mato Grosso, who are massive supporters of agricultural business interests.
The now former Minister is affiliated to the DEM party, is a free mason, anti-abortion and the number one enemy of the Mais Médicos Program (that brought Cuban doctors to remote parts of Brazil). Furthermore, he was in favor of the impeachment of ex-president Dilma Rousseff while a parliamentarian.