AFP / Sao Paulo
The mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer of the digestive system, the hospital where he was being treated announced.
Mayor Bruno Covas had been hospitalised on May 2 as the cancer, first diagnosed in 2019, spread through his body.
His medical team said on Friday that his condition was terminal. News of his death, announced by the city’s Syrian-Lebanese Hospital, prompted an outpouring on social media, with thousands of supporters expressing condolences for the moderate politician and solidarity with his family.
Covas, a member of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, had positioned himself in the centre of a polarised country, seeking to emerge as the moderate leader of a new political generation in a Brazil ruled by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
As he led his city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Covas himself contracted Covid-19 last August.
After recovering, he easily won re-election, with nearly 60% of the vote.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s economic capital with a population of more than 12mn, has lost 29,000 lives to the coronavirus.
This year, when Covas’ cancer took a turn for the worse, he had asked the city’s Chamber of Councillors for a 30-day break to allow him to focus fully on his health. “My body is demanding that I dedicate more time to treatment, which is entering a more demanding phase,” he said on Twitter.
Deputy Mayor Ricardo Nunes, a centrist, is expected to complete Covas’ term, which runs until 2024.
Covas, a trained lawyer whose grandfather Mario Covas was one of the most influential politicians in the country, began his political career at age 26, winning his first election in 2006 as a deputy in the Sao Paulo Assembly.
He later served as the city’s environmental secretary.
Covas was elected deputy mayor in 2016 and became mayor two years later when then-mayor Joao Doria resigned to seek the state’s governorship.
Covas was elected to a full term in November 2020.
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