Obama renews criticism of US gov’t response to coronavirus

Washington, May 16 (efe-epa).- Former President Barack Obama was scathing Saturday about his successor’s handling of the Covid-19 coronavirus, which has killed more than 88,000 people in the United States.

“This pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” he said in an online commencement address for several mainly African American colleges and universities.

“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” Obama said in a thinly veiled swipe at the incumbent president, though he did not mention Donald Trump by name.

After keeping a relatively low profile since leaving the White House in January 2017, the country’s first black president has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks as the Democratic Party coalesced around the man who served as his vice president, Joe Biden, to challenge Trump in the November election.

“An absolute chaotic disaster” was the phrase Obama used last week to describe Washington’s handling of Covid-19 in a conference call with veterans of his 2008-2016 administration.

While Trump, not for the first time, suggested Thursday that it was Obama’s fault the US didn’t have enough masks and ventilators to cope with the pandemic.

The US is now the global center of the pandemic, leading the world in both deaths (88,447) and confirmed cases (1.46 million), according to the independent tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

In his speech to graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Obama noted the statistics showing that African Americans are dying of coronavirus in greater numbers than would be expected given that they represent only around 12 percent of the population.

“A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country. We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities,” the former president said.

“Just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question and shoot him if he doesn’t submit to their questioning,” Obama added, referring to the killing in Georgia of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man.

Two white men, a father and son, claimed they shot Arbery in self-defense while trying to make a citizen’s arrest in connection with what they said was a spate of burglaries in the neighborhood.

“Injustice like this isn’t new,” Obama told the graduates. “What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing, that the old ways of doing things don’t work.” EFE


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