Visiting Brazil at the invitation of Jair Bolsonaro, President of Guinea-Bissau Umaro Sissoco Embaló told Folha he did not feel uncomfortable being received by unmasked guests and that he would have been offended if the Brazilian leader had had the article.
“When the president came here [de Portugal] Marcelo Rebelo from Sousa, [Bolsonaro] was not wearing a mask. It was the same with the President of Cape Verde [Jorge Carlos Fonseca]. Why use it with me? Why use it with me? If he used it with me, I might be offended, ”Embaló said.
The African president and his entourage wore masks during the first reception held at the Palácio do Planalto on Tuesday (24). Brazil’s chief executive, on the other hand, was unprotected, as were some of his ministers. “About masks, I have no opinion. I wear a mask. I don’t mind. Whoever wears it. Sometimes I don’t wear it either, when I’m in my car,” said the African leader.
The country of 2 million inhabitants elected Embaló, a retired army general, at the end of 2019. Since then, his administration has been considered authoritarian, with repression of demonstrations, intention to change the Constitution, occupation of key positions by the military and little appreciation of democracy, according to critics.
Admirer of Bolsonaro because both are military and anchored in the political discourse of the discipline, Embaló, 48, came to the country at the invitation of the Brazilian for a visit which continues until Friday (27).
To this end, Bolsonaro sent an FAB (Brazilian Air Force) plane to pick up the visitor and his entourage, an unusual gesture. “We don’t have planes. We could praise, but there is this practice of solidarity between brother peoples, ”Embaló told Folha early Wednesday evening (25). The newspaper O Globo participated in the interview, carried out at the hotel in Brasilia where the president is staying.
Despite the proximity to the military style that Bolsonaro cultivates politically, Embaló considers the nickname “Bolsonaro of Africa” to be an exaggeration. “I was called [Vladimir] Putin [presidente da Rússia] from Africa, by Kim Jong-un [ditador da Coreia do Norte] from Africa. I don’t like clutter. It comes from the military. It is difficult for civilians to understand us. Civilians are very fond of disorder, they are people who do not like rules.
In addition to rejecting the nickname that brings him closer to the Brazilian leader, Embaló rejects acts of denial in the pandemic. There are several signs of his management, reported by him, that go against what Bolsonaro thinks or does. “I imprisoned people. We even arrested those who did not obey, those who did not wear masks or organize parties against state decisions, ”he said.
Bolsonaro criticizes restrictive measures taken by governors in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And this is not limited to criticism: the president has already acted against the practice, with appeals to the Supreme Court. In another demonstration, the African president claimed to have already taken the two doses of the vaccine manufactured by AstraZeneca against the Covid-19. Bolsonaro says he refuses to be vaccinated.
“In Guinea, almost the entire population is vaccinated. We received several donations and we also bought them, ”said Embaló. However, data from the Our World in Data project, linked to the University of Oxford, indicates that only 1.28% of the population has received at least one dose of immunizing agents against Covid. Considering the two doses, this percentage drops to 0.15%. “Unfortunately, I was one of the first to catch Covid, in Nigeria, in March 2020. I was going to die from Covid, I got really sick, it hit my lung and I couldn’t walk. I went to Paris to please myself and the population and I became aware.
According to the Guinean president, around 80% of vaccination agents were the result of donations – such as, for example, from the Covax Facility consortium, the WHO (World Health Organization) and countries like Portugal, South Africa. South and the UNITED STATES. The remaining 20% has been purchased, he said.
“I am a great supporter, the first supporter of the vaccine. At the Presidency, in hospitals, ministries, barracks and schools, no one enters without presenting a vaccination record. In all public places, the two doses on the card are needed, ”Embaló said.
Asked about the difference in behavior of Bolsonaro, who has rejected vaccines and who to date delivers speeches against the effectiveness of vaccination agents, the President of Guinea-Bissau said: “I am not here to judge a President. There, I imposed the rule. I decide, the others do.
The figures, according to Our World in Data, show 108 deaths from Covid-19 and 5,590 cases of infection in the country. There is, however, a significant underreporting of cases in African countries.
The African president said Bolsonaro will visit his country this year. Before returning to Guinea-Bissau, Embaló goes to São Paulo, for a visit to the new Portuguese Language Museum and a meeting with Governor João Doria. The African leader, who defines himself as a politician of the center rather than the right, says he will stand for re-election. “I’m leaving after two terms. To put the country in danger.