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By Paula Litaiff

In the year in which Manaus, the largest capital of the Brazilian Amazon States, turns 352 years old, one of the greatest health tragedies in its history is being registered: pain, embarrassment, and extortion against more than 2 million inhabitants, marking the year of 2021, amidst a “pandemic” of negligence and crimes in public administration.

Manaus – personified in the image of a woman – has been suffering since January with serious abuses, both psychological and physical, as it is subjected to being the world’s guinea pig to attend to the billionaire interests of the pharmaceutical industry, besides being subjugated to pay millionaire suspicious contracts to “friends” in power and to fund salaries and benefits to relatives of its public manager.

The administration of the capital of Amazonas has become, openly, a residential annex of the mayor of Manaus, David Almeida (Avante), and his “office of hate”, which attacks those who refuse to adhere to his cunning, immature and neophyte way of managing a city.

A manager who doesn’t control his psychological capacity to bear a confrontational question in a regional press conference would never be able to represent the Amazon in a meeting of the United Nations (UN), in front of the international media.

For those who know the provincial politics of Manaus, know that the head of the Municipal Executive resembles, completely, the president of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, in number and degree of attacks on the press and political opponents. Like Bolsonaro, Almeida ignores humanism and embraces scientific denialism.

But it was not only ideology that made David Almeida attend Jair Bolsonaro and the former Health Minister, Eduardo Pazuello, in joining the “Covid Kit”, in Manaus, to subject his own people to ineffective drugs.

A lot of money and lobby

There was a COMMERCIAL AGREEMENT between the Planalto Palace and companies so that drugs, such as hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, were included in prescriptions in the Basic Health Units (UBSs) of Manaus, as pointed out in testimonies in the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPI) of Covid-19.

As he made agreements with Bolsonaro to join the criminal “Covid Kit “, Almeida cutted the immunization queue of frontline health professionals to serve, first, children of political allies, secretaries and businessmen, suppliers of Manaus City Hall, as pointed out by the Public Ministry of Amazonas (MP-AM) and the Federal Court.

Manaus, if represented by a woman, was abused and shamed at a national level with the scandal of the “fura-filas” and suffered to see that health workers, who risked their lives to save others, lost space for those who flattered the mayor.

Invulnerable friends

As if submitting Manaus to a criminal scientific experiment and to immunization negligence was not enough, the city was also forced to benefit advisors and relatives, with the scandal of the delivery of public housing to relatives and advisors of the mayor.

Aimed at families in risk and/or socially vulnerable areas, units of the Manauara 2 Residencial were given to people who received salaries of up to R$ 9 thousand per month and businessmen who lived in two-story houses.

And, there are no limits to the suffering of Manaus, which has, among its teachers in the municipal area, great idealizers and technicians. Today, they are forced to see relatives of David Almeida in the Municipal Department of Education (Semed) receiving salaries of up to R$ 13 thousand.

Collusion in infrastructure

In ten months of the new municipal administration, the city of Manaus has not seen, effectively, works to patch potholes on the streets that are abandoned in the peripheries and are mysteriously “painted” with paint purchased in suspicious contracts for bidding exemptions.

In the works, Manaus also witnesses collusion between secretaries and businessmen in bidding for works in the Municipal Department of Infrastructure (Seminf) of more than R$ 200 million, which has the mayor’s childhood friend as the authorizer of expenses.

Crimes and hypocrisy

For these and other reasons, Manaus has suffered and still suffers extortion, as when technicians lose space to laymen who are sponsored by the public administration; when the rules of a bidding process are changed to “help” businessmen friends.

The largest capital of the Amazon undergoes extortion, when popular houses are taken away from poor families to be given to businessmen and advisors to the mayor.

Manaus is subjected to extortion every day, when billionaire businessmen from the pharmaceutical industry make money with drugs that accelerate the death of Covid-19 patients who come to the UBSs.

Manaus is extorted, daily, by the hypocrisy of the mayor, who accuses those who confront him and, on work days, goes out with friends on luxury yachts on the Rio Negro, when he should be working.

Without a gift, the city of Manaus celebrates its anniversary with reduced future prospects amidst pain, embarrassment and all kinds of extortion…