Recall cases of presidents criticized for absence in major tragedies

The posture of President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) in the face of heavy rains that hit Bahia has been the target of criticism. The president finds disapproval in the fact that he did not suspend his year-end vacation to visit the affected regions with thousands of displaced or homeless people and flooded municipalities. Similar situations also occurred with the then presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), in 2008, and Dilma Rousseff (PT), in 2015.

Bolsonaro even flew over part of the affected region in early December, when the rains were beginning. However, the situation worsened enormously after the president’s first and only visit to the region. In late December, the president visited an amusement park in the city of Penha, Santa Catarina, accompanied by first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, on the same day that the death toll in the state of Bahia reached 25 as a result of the floods.

However, Jair Bolsonaro is not the only president criticized for his delay in taking a stand on public calamities and his absence in regions that have undergone major tragedies. Recall other cases:

Lula and the floods in Santa Catarina

In late November 2008, Santa Catarina experienced the greatest climatic tragedy in the state’s history. Heavy rains affected more than 1.5 million residents in around 60 municipalities in Santa Catarina, causing the death of 135 people.

In the same period, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) was on vacation in Fernando de Noronha, in Pernambuco, accompanied by his children, grandchildren and first lady Marisa Letícia. Lula was harshly criticized for his delay in visiting the affected region while walking around Noronha.

At the time, the former president even said that it was the “greatest catastrophe in the history of Santa Catarina”. Even so, what was marked was the delay in positioning the PT. The rains that caused several floods in the state of Santa Catarina began at dawn on November 22, and Lula only flew over the affected regions on November 26, when the situation had already worsened.

In response, the former president signed a Provisional Measure (MP) allocating R$ 1.6 billion to face calamity in the summer, not only in Santa Catarina, but also in other states in the South and Southeast affected by rains and in the Northeast states affected by drought.

In 2015, the country was faced with another major environmental tragedy, this time caused by the collapse of the Fundão dam, in Mariana (MG). On November 5th, the rupture caused the death of 19 people and a huge sea of ​​mud that devastated the Rio Doce, destroyed hundreds of houses and caused an intense environmental impact in the region.

The then President of the Republic, Dilma Rousseff (PT), only visited the affected areas a week later, on November 12th. On the day of the tragedy, Dilma was in Alagoas participating in the inauguration event of a stretch of the Sertão Channel. The delay was criticized by representatives of federal agencies and civil society.

On the flight over the site a week later, Dilma was accompanied by the Minister of the Environment, Izabella Teixeira, who was also going to the region for the first time. On the day of the visit, the former president even stated that she was going to the place “to do it, not just to visit”.

Faced with criticism, Dilma countered that she preferred to have all the preliminary assessments in hand and then start discussing the appropriate measures with the company. The then president also claimed that the minister of National Integration, Gilberto Occhi, visited the region affected by the sea of ​​mud the day after the tragedy.

This is not the first time Bolsonaro has faced disapproval for his absence and has been slow to respond in the face of a major calamity. In the first month of his presidency, Bolsonaro was faced with the collapse of the Córrego do Feijão dam, in Brumadinho (MG).

At the time, the newly inaugurated president flew over the scene of the tragedy the day after the dam was destroyed. Even so, Bolsonaro was criticized for the delay and for having outsourced responsibilities in the face of the crisis.

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