Bolsonaro Says Hunger in Brazil Is a Lie

Later he had to admit that some people do suffer from hunger

São Paulo and Brasília

President Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) said on Friday (19) that there is no hunger in Brazil.

In a cafe with correspondents from the international press on Friday morning (19), Bolsonaro denied that there were people in Brazil starving.

"To say that hunger happens in Brazil is a big lie. People don't eat well and get sick. That I agree. Now go hungry, no."

"You do not see poor people on the streets with a skeletal physique, as we see in some other countries around the world," said the president, not naming which nations would be these.

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attends a ceremony of the hoisting the national flag in front the Alvorada Palace in Brasilia, Brazil July 16, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo - REUTERS

The statement was a response to a representative of the Spanish newspaper El País, who said Congressional leader, Rodrigo Maia (DEM-RJ), had expressed concern about inequality in Brazil. The journalist wanted to know what measures the government has taken to reduce poverty in the country.

Later, Bolsonaro softened his speech. At the end of a ceremony honoring Football Day, the president acknowledged "some are hungry," and said it was unacceptable Brazil, where natural resources are plenty.

Asked if he was retreating on the assertion that there was no hunger in Brazil, Bolsonaro became angry with the journalists.

"Oh, for God's sake, if it's to go into detail, I'm leaving. I do not see any thin people here [among journalists]. We have problems in Brazil, we have, it's not my fault, it comes from the past. Let's try to solve it," he said.

Brazil reduced hunger statistics from 10.6 percent of the population in the early 2000s to less than 2.5 percent by the end of the decade, according to data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These indicators, however, have worsened again in recent years amid the economic recession.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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