In Brazil, a president hospitalized for over two weeks

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RIO DE JANEIRO | Brazil has a new president which the beginning of the mandate has taken a turn never seen before: it’s been more than two weeks that Jair Bolsonaro runs the country from a hospital bed, at a slower pace.

Operated for a reconstruction bowel after an attack with the weapon that had almost cost him his life in September 2018, the head of the State had, after a brief interim of his vice-president, required to take back the reins as soon as the next day of her operation on 28 January.

At least that is what he has tried to do, in giving the image of an officer to maneuver through multiple interventions on the social networks, its tools of choice, such as during the presidential campaign.

Through messages, photos and videos posted on Twitter or Instagram, it communicates on its activities of the day, his state of health or comments on this or that political subject.

But things don’t go quite as planned. Day after day, the bulletins of his doctors at the prestigious hospital Albert Einstein of Sao Paulo have ginned up a list of problems: vomiting, fever, pneumonia, and no solid foods for two weeks. The visits have been restricted.

Pending a hospital discharge delayed and now expected in the coming days, this situation has highlighted tensions within the government that took office on January 1 and in particular with the vice-president, general Hamilton Mourao.

“You want to kill me? “asked Jair Bolsonaro the general Mourao during a telephone conversation last weekend, about reported in the press, to which the president joked.

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Sign of these tensions: the vice-president has put him out of the entourage of the head of the State, of which his son, by questioning publicly his arguments in favour of the liberalisation of the possession of firearms and a transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the embassy of Brazil in Israel.

“Administrative gridlock”

For some analysts, the reduced activity of the head of the State has consequences on the good of the country.

“There’s a kind of power vacuum in recent weeks, with the prolonged absence of the president,” judge Thomaz Favaro, director of the firm Control Risks.

A certain “anxiety” is evident in the ministries, government agencies and public enterprises on how to implement the program of the government, he adds.

In a recent editorial, the influential daily Estado de S. Paulo, regretted the “administrative gridlock” that leads to this prolonged hospitalization.

The country is governed ‘by someone who is not in a state of health (good enough) to accomplish such a task, and which undergoes the direct influence and consequent of his sons, who do not occupy ministerial positions,” added the newspaper.

The highly sensitive reform of the pension system, as unpopular as it is expected by the markets to consolidate public accounts, seems to be at the heart of tensions within the government.

The president of the extreme right, which promised to ” change Brazil “, has entrusted this daunting task to his “Chicago boy” Paulo Guedes, the minister of the Economy.

Both display publicly a perfect understanding, but on this matter of the disagreements have recently emerged.

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The leak in the press a draft of the text of the law last week has highlighted divergent views on the age limit of retirement announced by Jair Bolsonaro.

The reform requires a constitutional amendment that must be approved by three-fifths of a Parliament still very fragmented, 308 votes.

If adopted, this measure will enable savings of approximately 273 billion dollars over ten years, according to Mr. Guedes.