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Lula da Silva: Brazil’s former President urges Biden to call an emergency Covid-19 summit

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Speaking in Sao Paulo, Brazil, da Silva said the United States has a surplus of vaccines and suggested the excess could be given to countries that needed it.

“One suggestion I would like to make to President Biden through your program is: it is very important to urgently convene a G20 meeting,” Da Silva told Amanpour. “It’s important to call the world’s leading leaders and put around the table just one thing, one topic. Vaccine, vaccine and vaccine!”

He added: “The responsibility to international leaders is tremendous, so I ask President Biden to do it because I can’t … I don’t believe in my government. So I couldn’t ask for it for Trump, but Biden is a breath for democracy in the world “.

“When it comes time to run in the election, and if my party and other allied parties understand that I could be the candidate, and if I am well and my health with the energy and power I have today, I can assure you that I will not deny this invitation, but I do not want to talk about it. This is not my main priority. My main priority now is to save this country, “said da Silva.

The South American nation has been setting record deaths from viruses repeatedly in recent days as another brutal wave of Covid-19 sweeps the country. The resurgence has overwhelmed doctors fighting on the front of the pandemic with a growing number of hospitals across the country reaching capacity.

On Tuesday, the Brazilian Ministry of Health’s research institution, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, described the country’s current emergency as “the biggest hospital and health collapse in Brazil’s history.”

Da Silva, 75, had it convicted of corruption and money laundering charges three years ago coming from an extensive investigation into the state oil company Petrobras, christened “Operation Car Wash”.

But in a surprise move last Monday, a Brazilian Supreme Court judge overturned his sentences and ordered that the cases be prosecuted again in the Federal Court in Brasilia. If the sentence is upheld, and if Lula is not re-convicted before the candidacy deadline, he would technically be able to run for office and challenge current President Jair Bolsonaro in 2022.

Political clash on the horizon?

Da Silva, who helped found the Left Workers’ Party, has largely refused to run for office and said last Wednesday that he “has no time to think about running in 2022.”

However, the former president – better known as Lula – did launched a scathing attack on Bolsonaro, telling Brazilians last week not to “follow any stupid decisions by the president and health minister” and urging people to get vaccinated. He also condemned the current administration’s treatment of the pandemic, saying many deaths from the virus “could have been avoided”.

“If we had a president who respected the population, he would have created a crisis committee to guide Brazilian society on what to do each week,” the former president added.

Bolsonaro defended his treatment of the health crisis over Da Silva’s statements, and told CNN Brazil last week that his government authorized local officials and argued that imposing closure measures (which has been refused to do) only “would lead to a situation of poverty.”

Bolsonaro has previously said he hoped Brazil’s Supreme Court would restore Da Silva’s convictions and accused his predecessor of 2022’s ambitions. “Former President Lula is now starting his campaign. Because he has nothing good to show and this is the [Workers Party] his campaign is based on criticizing, lying and misinforming, ”he said.

Although elections are still 18 months away, the coronavirus outbreak in Brazil is likely to play into voters ’feelings. Bolsonaro’s disapproval rates reached their highest level so far at 54%, according to the latest results of the Datafolha Voting Institute poll released on Wednesday.

Brazil has the second-highest Covid-19 figure in the world with 11,603,535 cases and 282,127 coronavirus-related deaths as of Tuesday, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

Hospitals are flooded with cases across the country. CNN’s latest analysis shows that ICU employment rates in 25 of the 26 Brazilian states plus their federal district are greater than or equal to 80%. Of these, 14 states have ICU employment rates equal to or greater than 90%, putting them at imminent risk of collapse.

On Tuesday, the governor of Brazil’s second most populous state, Minas Gerais, said the health care system simply could not support new patients.

“I don’t want Minas Gerais to become a horror film,” Romeu Zema told a news conference to announce the implementation of the “purple phase” across the state, the most restrictive of the Minas Gerais plan to handle the pandemic.

“Any infected person (person) can mean one more death because the state does not have the capacity to take in new patients,” Zema said.

Bolsonaro’s crisis management under fire

Since the start of Brazil’s vaccination campaign on January 17, the country has administered more than 12.5 million doses of vaccine nationwide. population of more than 211 million. More than 9 million people have received at least one dose, while just over 3 million people have been given a second dose, according to the latest data from the country’s health ministry.

As the country’s coronavirus surpasses vaccination launches, criticism is mounting. According to a survey by the same Datafolha institute, which interviewed 2,023 people by phone on March 15 and 16, 54% of Brazilians considered Bolsonaro’s performance to be bad or horrible, compared to 48% at the end of January.

The survey report also indicates that 43% of Brazilians blame Bolsonaro, while 20% blame their governors for the current state of the pandemic in Brazil.

Regarding Bolsonaro’s presidency, 44% of respondents believe it is bad or horrible, four points more than in the last poll and the highest since he took office in January 2019. Thirty percent of respondents judge Bolsonaro’s sentence good or great and another 26% see it as regular.

Bolsonaro appointed this week a new Minister of Health – the fourth in a year – as ICUs and mortality rates skyrocketed. The new minister, cardiologist Marcelo Queiroga, replaces Army General Eduardo Pazuello, but there is little evidence of any change in the administration’s approach to the crisis.

On Tuesday, Queiroga in an interview with CNN Brazil echoed the president saying the closures only apply in “extreme situations” and would not be imposed by the federal government.

Journalists Rodrigo Pedroso and Marcia Reverdosa contributed to this report from Sao Paulo, Brazil. CNN’s Caitlin Hu also collaborated from New York, Matt Rivers from Rio de Janeiro and Vasco Cotovio from London. CNN’s Lauren Said-Moorhouse wrote from London.

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