Covid-19 seems to have emulated economics for its globalized and globalizing connotation. However this emergency has seen different countries and their respective health, political and cultural systems, respond in very different ways. In the old Europe the public health system still seems to hold and guarantee everybody the cures needed, despite the private healthcare's advancing in the last decades, whereas in China the lynchpin has probably been a social control even more invasive in the name of collective security, legitimized by a legal and political system traditionally not liberal. The United States are paying a very high price in terms of deaths and infected individuals, but it would be difficult to admit that a privatized healthcare system like the American one has proven to be ineffective in the case of a pandemic.
Brazil has excellent skills and professional in the medical field, however many facilities do not guarantee the highest quality, not to mention the significant poverty in which part of the population lives. As at May 25, 2020 the positive cases of coronavirus confirmed are 374.898 and the deaths are 23.473, the first confirmed case dating back to February 26, 2020. At the beginning of April the President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro minimized the situation defining the first cases as a simple flu and stressed the need to keep working to avoid stopping the country's economy that at this point should grow of a 7 – 7,5% in terms of the Gross Domestic Product. The President of the US Donald Trump has decided to ban arrival trips from Brazil.
The macro-dichotomy that we have seen at the centre of the public debate sees health on one hand and economy on the other, as if one element should necessarily exclude the other one. This pandemic, the risk of dying in itself, was giving us an opportunity to become aware of the fact that the time for a new era, but instead we keep splitting up and separating what in reality could be synergic and complementary.If this virus' origin is natural, if many scientists agree in saying that the uncontrolled exploitation of resources is one of the main causes of such catastrophes, then we should really ask ourselves whether it is time to change paradigm in order to bring together health and economy, security and development, sustainability and social justice.
It has been calculated that the deforestation of the Amazon present in most of the Brazilian territory, will be even higher than in 2019, considering the loss of a tropical forest area between 12.000 and 16.000 square km in the past four years. Through the satellite system INPE (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais) that monitors the forest area in real time, it has been estimated that from August 2019 to April 2020, deforestation reached 5.666 square km. In fact it is expected that this will advance even more due to rainfall reduction. Covid-19 has also hit some indigenous communities in the Amazon, with a significant number of positive cases (approximately 2.000) and tens of deaths. Their representatives and a number of activists are pressing the central government in Brazil to obtain a standstill on all mining activities (mines and oil), on intensive industrial agriculture and on all religious proselytism. Demands include self-determination and self-protection from the pandemic, an appropriate public health system and strengthened legislation for the fight against crime in the indigenous areas.
“Someday everything will make perfect sense. So, for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”
By Nico Delfine
Translated by: Elena Briasco