HAVANA TIMES – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has fired his health minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta, according to a tweet from Mandetta on Thursday.
Mandetta and Bolsonaro have butted heads over what action to take as the country deals with the novel coronavirus.
“I have just heard from President Jair Bolsonaro with a message on my dismissal,” he wrote after a meeting with the president in Brasilia, headquarters of the country’s government.
“I would like to give thanks for the opportunity to plan how we are dealing with the pandemic, the great challenge that faces our health system,” said Mandertta.
Bolsonaro, also known as the Brazilian Trump, has downplayed the coronavirus as a “gripezinha” or “little flu” and called for a return to business as usual.
The health minister, who has been in his post since January 2019 when the government came to power, was in favor of scaling down public life and an advocate of social distancing.
Both voiced their opinions in public press conferences and TV interviews, and their relationship deteriorated over the last few weeks.
“Brazilians don’t know whether they should listen to the president or the health minister,” Mandetta said on the popular TV show Fantastico on Sunday.
Bolsonaro has accused Mandetta of a “lack of modesty.”
A survey by the polling institute Datafolha from last week showed 33 per cent of Brazilians thought Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus crisis was good, while 76 per cent said the same about Mandetta’s.
His dismissal had been expected in the capital Brasilia for some time. His sucesor will be oncologist Nelson Teich.