Op-Ed in the Miami Herald: “Populist leaders play political games with COVID-19, and people are dying”

In op-ed published in the Miami Herald this past weekend, Dr. Felicia Knaul and Dr. Michael Touchton discussed their analysis of the current situation in Latin America in regard to the pandemic of COVID-19.

As COVID-related deaths in the United States and in Brazil have skyrocketed to more than one a minute (1,000 per day), the pandemic reveals the grave consequences of political polarization and populism on public health.


Two of the main researchers of UM’s Observatory, Knaul and Touchton explained that political leaders’ dismissal of the severity of the pandemic and limited public health-related campaigning for combating the disease added to the severity of the situation in countries like Brazil and Mexico. To them, coronavirus has become “a national public-health crisis, not a left-wing or right-wing crisis.”

COVID-19 does not ask its victims about political preference. Yet, one cannot tell that from Bolsonaro’s rhetoric or from mayors’ and governos’ policy responses.

Felicia Knaul and Michael Touchton

The researchers further point out that countries in the Latin American region with populist leaders, like Brazil, had time to prepare for the pandemic “but chose not to. Instead, Bolsonaro wasted valuable time and claimed that COVID-19 would ‘disappear’.”

Read more: https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article245658545.html