About 90% of President Jair Bolsonaro’s travel expenses during the pandemic are associated with busy schedules.
At least R$ 16.6 million, out of a total of R$ 18.4 million spent on travel, paid for trips to events in which the president contradicted the recommendations to fight the new coronavirus.
Of this total, the most expensive trips, between March last year and the same month this year, were for days off on the beaches of Guarujá (SP) and São Francisco do Sul (SC), which totaled R$ 3.5 million.
Pressured by the fall in popularity, Bolsonaro intensified agendas outside Brasilia even during the health crisis. He told supporters on Thursday that he plans two outings a week.
A two-day trip through the interior of São Paulo, in September 2020, cost R$ 820,000. Without a mask, contrary to state decree, the president attracted dozens of people in Eldorado (SP), a city where he spent part of his childhood and adolescence.
On the same tour, Bolsonaro made a lightning visit to the PRF (Federal Highway Police) post in Registro (SP). By the side of the road, he donned police caps and waved to drivers for about an hour.
The president also dispensed with a mask and distance on a trip to Ceará, which cost around R$ 400,000, in February this year, at the height of the health crisis.
“I don’t complain about the difficulties. I suffer attacks 24 hours a day. But between those who attack and you, you are way ahead. They won’t make me give up because, after all, I’m imbrochable”, he said, in the municipality of Tianguá.
In Breves (PA), in October of last year, the president also gathered with supporters. The trip cost R$540 thousand. The president landed in the city at the end of the day and returned to Brasília early the following afternoon.
The trips to events or military installations during the health crisis cost more than R$ 2.5 million.
The most expensive of these trips (BRL 382.9 thousand) was to Rio de Janeiro, on August 14, to inaugurate a civic-military school, accompany the passage of the Eastern Military Command and visit the Military Police’s Special Operations Battalion, the BOPE.
The values of the trips made until the beginning of March of this year were disclosed by the SGPR (General Secretariat of the Presidency), through the Law on Access to Information.
When contacted, the Planalto Palace did not comment on these expenses.
There are still trips that did not take place, but generated expenses, as the Bolsonaro security team had moved to the possible destination. These cases were also not considered in the counting of trips for busy schedules.
In March 2020, the president withdrew from a trip to Mossoró (RN) because of the pandemic, days after the confirmation of the first case of Covid-19 in Brazil. The preparation for the trip cost R$ 134.5 thousand.
A leaf it also verified which of the agendas outside Brasilia during the pandemic had agglomerations.
In some military events and trips to the Itaipu plant, in Foz do Iguaçu (PR), Bolsonaro seems to have followed guidelines of social distancing and wearing a mask.
In the vast majority, however, the president contradicted the booklet for dealing with the new coronavirus. Even so, it was only in May this year that Bolsonaro was fined for generating agglomeration, by decision of Governor Flávio Dino (PC do B). The value of this trip has not yet been disclosed by Planalto.
Bolsonaro and Dino had already exchanged criticisms during the pandemic. The president even stated that he canceled a trip to Maranhão, in October 2020, due to lack of security, which the governor denied.
Days later, Bolsonaro was received in the capital São Luís and in Imperatriz by hundreds of supporters who squeezed in to accompany him. The trip cost around R$485,000.
Bolsonaro usually minimizes the impact of the agglomerations it causes. “I went among the people, without a mask, so there was no doubt. I’m a general on the front line. If I close it all up again, I don’t know how we’re going to react,” he said in November.
The president also sued the STF (Supreme Federal Court) twice against measures determined by state governments, such as curfews.
Since 2019, when he took over the Planalto, Bolsonaro’s trips have cost R$36.6 million, with trips to other countries consuming R$3.4 million.
The president’s most expensive trip was a two-week tour of Asia, in 2019, for around R$1 million.
Government data still show expenditures of at least R$307,000 in displacements by Hamilton Mourão and R$170,000 by Senator Davi Alcolumbre (DEM-AP), when they replaced Bolsonaro in the Presidency of the Republic.
The values of the president’s trips include daily rates and meals for the government team, in addition to the hiring of services. Expenses with flights are not added.
In response to the Chamber, the government estimated expenditures of US$ 185 thousand, about R$ 1 million, with air transport on FAB aircraft only on trips from Bolsonaro to São Francisco do Sul (SC) and Guarujá (SP), between December 18th, 2020 and January 5th of this year, period of worsening of the pandemic.
Paid with the federal government’s corporate card, expenses are confidential and there is no way to discriminate amounts for contracting services, for example.
SGPR also disclosed travel expenses from previous presidents, but the numbers are understated, as the ministry itself acknowledges, making it difficult to compare expenses.
In August 2019, Bolsonaro promised to show press outlets his personal corporate card statement, but to date he has not done so. “I’m going to open the confidentiality of my card. For you to know how much I spent from January to the end of July. Ok, press? Let’s do a nice article?”, he said at the time.