In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro struggles with glitzy food costs scandal

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Brasilia on January 27.

For Jair Bolsonaro, the note is salty… even if it is sugar that it is. The President of Brazil has been immersed in a major media scandal for a few days following the revelation by the press of the lavish food expenses incurred by his government during the year 2020.

According to the online newspaper Metropoles, in all, there are estimated to be more than 1.8 billion reais (270 million euros) of food and drink, up 20% from the previous year. In detail, the federal administration spent 2.4 million euros on fries, 750,000 raisins, 330,000 chewing gum, 250,000 whipped cream or 270,000 jelly beef …

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But the figure that has captured the most media attention concerns desserts: 2.3 million euros of sweetened condensed milk purchased in 2020. This dish is certainly very popular with Brazilians, but the astronomical expenditure of the government of Brasilia on the subject is puzzling. Because 2.3 million euros is indeed enough to buy between two and three tonnes of condensed milk per day: the equivalent of 7,000 cans opened daily… Which still makes a lot of condensed milk sugar.

Outrage and bursts of laughter

The news provoked outrage and laughter. As Covid-19 ravages the country, many believe that such an amount of money could have been spent on the purchase of vaccines or oxygen tanks. Some suspect the power of embezzlement and demand the opening of a parliamentary inquiry. On social networks, Internet users have often chosen humor, caricaturing Jair Bolsonaro as an obese sumo, devouring tons of condensed milk.

In the face of scandal, power is justified as best it can, between sheepish shame and hysteria. The Ministry of Defense, at the origin of most of the purchases of sweetened milk, painfully underlined the “Energy potential” of this high calorie ingredient. Furious, Jair Bolsonaro did not take gloves: “Fuck yourself at your mother’s house, shit press!” You can put it in your ass, this canned condensed milk! “, launched the President of Brazil on January 27 during a lunch filmed in Brasilia, surrounded by his supporters and his ministers.

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The Brazilian press is certainly used to the insults of the Head of State. For two years, she has been treated according to the times of “Rot”, d’“Motherfucker” or from “Liar”. Jair Bolsonaro does not hesitate to launch from time to time an arm of honor to journalists responsible for monitoring his presidency. In 2020, the NGO Reporters Without Borders recorded 580 attacks against the press by the authorities in Brasilia in 2020.

But the episode first highlights the nervousness that currently reigns at the head of state, under pressure and while the Brazilian president is threatened with impeachment for his catastrophic management of the Covid-19 crisis, which made 220 000 dead in the country. The vaccination campaign, started in confusion, suffers many delays and dysfunctions, as the country faces a second deadly wave and a more contagious Amazon variant spreads at high speed.

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