While Brazilians mourn the devastating loss after the 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janiero burned on Sunday evening in a giant inferno, critics of the ruling right-wing government lashed out for doing too little to guard the building from a disaster thay say could have been prevented if warnings had been heded and the necessary steps taken to upgrade the facility and protect its millions of scientific and historic artifacts.

“The tragedy this Sunday is a sort of national suicide. A crime against our past and future generations,”
—Bernard Mello Franco, Brazilian columnist”It is an unbearable catastrophe. It is 200 years of this country’s heritage. It is 200 years of memory. It is 200 years of science. It is 200 years of culture, of education,” Luiz Duarte, a vice-director of the museum, told the country’s TV Globo.

Duarte was among those who blamed government officials for failing to support the museum and letting it fall into disrepair. “For many years we fought with different governments to get adequate resources to preserve what is now completely destroyed,” he said. “My feeling is of total dismay and immense anger.”

While Brazil’s President Michael Temer—who the Guardian reports “has presided over cuts to science and education as part of a wider austerity drive” since taking office in a political “cold coup” by right-wing forces in 2016—called the losses “incalculable,” it is precisely those cuts, say critics, which are ultimately to blame for the fire. According to the BBC:


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