AM: Masses protest oxygen shortage and health system collapse

Caption: Intubated patients are being transported to other states on airplanes. Photo: FAB Disclosure

The unprecedented crisis affecting the state of Amazonas, especially the capital Manaus, has revolted families of people hospitalized with Covid-19 at the hospital and emergency rooms on August 28.

Mário Ypiranga Avenue, in the Adrianópolis neighborhood, South Zone of Manaus, was shut down on January 14 by families demanding a solution to the problems and the basic right to life, denied by the governments’ negligence.

The act exposes the chaotic situation that the city of Manaus is going through, as a faithful portrait of the crisis that has already claimed the lives of over 207,000 Brazilians. According to family members, due to the lack of oxygen tanks in the state, patients are having their machines lowered or turned off, all to save the product that is in short supply. Those who do not die as a direct result of the pandemic, die as a result of the negligence of the government.

Families indignant with the state’s neglect shut down the road demanding measures in Manaus. January 2020. Photo: D24AM

“Information came in that they were going to decrease the oxygen and there are patients who need 15% of the oxygen and they wanted to decrease it to 6%. They arrive and don’t ask for permission; they get there and they decrease. My patient is 81 years old, the doctor got there and decreased his oxygen, and he went from 90, which is a good saturation, to 7. Being his companion I knew that he needs that to live, so I went and pressed the button for oxygen,” denounced Nathalie Batista, who works as a caregiver for the elderly.

The oxygen rationing comes at a time when patients are being transferred to other states such as Ceará, Goiás, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Distrito Federal, also due to the lack of the product.

Over the last few weeks the health system of the Amazonas has collapsed. The scenes are more like horror movies, with doctors taking oxygen tanks in their own cars to hospitals, family members desperately trying to buy the product, even cold storage rooms were installed in the cemeteries of Manaus, since there is no more room to bury people. The crisis is such that the tests of the National High School Exam (Enem) were cancelled in the state.

The government of Amazonas declared a 10-day curfew in the city, due to the gravity of the situation.


Faced with the crisis in the Amazon, and the genocide that affects our people, certain characters are highlighted for their disastrous and criminal actions and total disdain for the lives of poor people. They are worthy of being tried in the Hague Tribunal for crimes against humanity.

First, General Eduardo Pazuello, who is in charge of the Ministry of Health, is incapable of presenting a concrete plan of mass vaccination for the population, thus prolonging all the suffering of the masses. As a representative of the Armed Forces, the general demonstrates the inefficiency of this institution, which after not getting syringes, is now unable to even transport oxygen at levels required for the largest state in the country.

Another one whose role has been detestable is the vice president and representative of the right-wing military within the federal government, Hamilton Mourão. In an interview on January 15, the reactionary cynically said that the government “could not predict what was going to happen in Manaus” and added: “the government is doing everything it can.”

Mourão’s statement contrasts with the information given by the Attorney General of the State of Amazonas, Igor da Silva Spindola, who stated that the Ministry of Health was alerted at least four days ago about the lack of oxygen in the state.

“The state has not prepared itself. And as if that weren’t enough, the Logistics directorate of the Ministry of Health only met today (01/14) to deal with it after being warned four days ago,” the man said in an interview with Época magazine.

The Attorney General also criticized the lack of logistics of the military at the head of the Ministry of Health: “lack of coordination” of the federal government and of military personnel within the ministry.

Another character directly responsible for the whole crisis driven by Covid-19 is the fascist president Jair Bolsonaro. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has disregarded the virus and even called it “the little flu”. The president has always made a point of circumventing isolation measures by encouraging the masses to do the same.

Bolsonaro also strove to let the virus proliferate: proof of this were the constant changes of health ministers, seeking someone to submit to him in his genocidal plan, eventually finding his match within the Armed Forces, as it should be.

In the scientific field, Bolsonaro promoted denialism, stimulating an obscure anti-vaccine campaign and advertising medicines without scientific proof of effectiveness in combating the virus.

With these and other measures, the fascist Bolsonaro led thousands of people to doubt the existence or even the danger of contagion from the virus, a fact that ended up taking the lives of 207,000 Brazilian workers.


No matter how hard the reactionaries try in every way to murder the people in order to destroy productive forces, aiming to restore the parasitic reproduction of the capitalist system, the people, together with their organized vanguard, have carried out and continue to carry out campaigns of awareness, distribution of masks, alcohol and inputs for the protection of the poor and working people.

As an example of this effort, Sanitary Committees for Popular Defense (CSDP) were created throughout Brazil with the purpose of defending the health of the people. These committees showed once again that the workers can only count on their equals, because if they depend on the bourgeois-landowning state, they will only be faced with suffering and death.

This is an unofficial translation of an article published on the A Nova Democracia website on January 15.

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