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Bolsonaro is a double danger to the world

The president's policies on Coronavirus and the Amazon endanger the whole world



Main image: from a Video by Double Down News (DDN)

It’s not only Brazilians who are dying needlessly because of the criminal behaviour of their President, Jair Bolsonaro. There is a growing awareness in the international community that his deliberate sabotage of efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus here and to encourage the destruction of the Amazon are also putting the world at risk.

The WHO has abandoned its previous carefully neutral posture to criticise Brazil and call on it to take serious measures, because neighbouring countries and the world beyond are now threatened. The government’s refusal to control the spread of the virus, which has already led to the collapse of the health system in many states, as hospitals are overwhelmed with Covid cases and exhausted staff can no longer cope, means that more dangerous variants, like the Manaus one, could appear.

As the numbers fall in other countries, Brazil has become the epicentre of the pandemic. Thanks to Bolsonaro’s initial refusal to buy vaccines, there are not enough to immunize even the priority groups, and now the government is scrambling desperately to find them, wherever it can. But they are in short supply.

Video BBC News Brasil 8 March 2021

Once again he is turning to ‘miracle cures’, sending a 10 man mission to Israel, led by Ernesto Araujo, foreign minister, to buy a nasal spray which has only been tested on 30 people. This was nicknamed ‘the Borat mission’, because, instead of experts on viruses and epidemiology, it was made up of a random assortment of Bolsonaro supporters, including one of his sons. The Foreign Minister had to be reminded by his Israeli counterpart to wear his mask, while the mission’s members were confined to their hotel and banned from travelling inside Israel.

We need you to be wearing your mask, sir! Clip from BBC video

The aim of such a useless initiative seems to be to distract attention from what people really want – the vaccine – by offering useless substitutes, first hydroxychloroquine , now an experimental nasal spray.

At the same time Bolsonaro continues to attack and deride the efforts by governors and mayors to introduce the preventive measures known to work – wearing masks, staying at home, lockdowns. At a time when thousands of Brazilians are dying from Covid – 10,000 in the last 7 days – and hospitals are forced to hire cold storage trucks to hold the overflow of corpses, he offers not only personal insults – stop whining, enough of crying, go look for vaccines at your mother’s house – but also threatens reprisals such as withholding emergency aid to needy citizens and denying grants to cultural enterprises located in towns and cities practising lockdown.

Video: The Guardian, 5 March 2020

Indignation at the president’s words and deeds is widespread, but the big, so far unanswered, question is how to get rid of a president whose only plan of government seems to be the deliberate spread of the virus and the destruction of his own country’s natural resources.

Manifestos, editoriaIs, speeches, denunciations mount up. Is the tide turning?

Interview with Natalia Pasternak Video: CNN 6 Mar 2021

Natalia Pasternak, a biologist who has become very popular on the media because of her clear explanations of the pandemic, and like many of her colleagues is becoming increasingly desperate at the situation, a few days ago shook off the constraints of speaking as a medical expert to urge politicians to act. ‘I’d like to know when Brazilians will say basta -enough is enough- to this man in the presidency. The intolerable cannot be tolerated, please senhores congressistas, stand up!’

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Iamge: Paulo Vitae-Instituto Questão de Ciência – Acervo do Instituto. Wikimedfia CC BY-SA 4.0, https://comm

The Brazilian Bar Association has called on the Supreme Court and the General Advocate’s office to investigate the “criminal and administrative responsibilities” of the President and Minister of Health in their failure to provide vaccines.

Chico Buarque and Leonardo Boff in 2010. Image: Wikimedia

Thousands of intellectuals and artists led by Chico Buarque, progressive theologian Leonardo Boff and Julio Lancelloti, the priest who works with the homeless in São Paulo, have signed what they call an Open Letter to Humanity, saying ‘Brasil is crying for help’.

It is a strongly worded attack on the president: ‘Brazilians are hostages to the genocide Jair Bolsonaro together with a gang of fanatics moved by fascist irrationality.

‘This man without humanity denies science, life, the protection of the environment and compassion. Hatred of the other is his reason for exercising power. Today Brazil suffers from the deliberate collapse of the health system. The neglect of vaccination and of basic preventive measures, the encouragement of crowds and an end to confinement, allied to a total absence of a sanitation policy have created the ideal environment for new vírus mutations and put at risk neighbouring countries and all of humanity.

‘Horrified, we watch the systematic extermination of our population, above all the poor, the quilombo dwellers and the indigenous.

‘The monstrous genocidal government of Bolsonaro is no longer just a threat to Brazil but has become a global threat.’

They also quoted Hannah Arendt’s phrase, ‘We live in dark times, where the worst people have lost their fear and the best have lost hope.’

The conclusion that more and more people are coming to is clear: Bolsonaro represents not only a danger to Brazilians, over a quarter of a million of whom have already paid with their lives, but also to the rest of the world.

Bolsonaro has absolutely no empathy with other people, he has revealed time and again his total insensibility to other people’s suffering. The day he said, ‘Time to stop crying, stop whining’, was the same day that the number of deaths reached its highest daily total, over 1900. Soon it could reach 3,000 a day.

In addition the health disaster which he is actively promoting, Bolsonaro is deliberately promoting the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. This is being achieved by dismantling environmental protection, persecuting  environmental NGOs and encouraging land invasions and mining in indigenous territories. Brazil’s record number of forest fires has boosted carbon emissions, as has transformation of forest into pasture and farmland. Brazil’s contributions to the world’s warming and climate change are growing, not falling.

Meanwhile, another collapse is taking place – that of the Lava Jato operation. Earlier this week Supreme Court judge Edson Fachin ruled to annul four of former president Lula da Silva’s convictions on a technical point, and in another judgement, the Supreme Court ruled that Sergio Moro, the judge in Curitiba who sentenced him, was not impartial, but guilty of bias. This means that Lula is eligible to run for president in 2022, and the latest opinion polls show that he is the candidate most likely to beat Bolsonaro, should they run against each other, and should we reach 2022 without any interruption to the democratic process.

Lula speaking at the Metalworkers Union, 10 March 2021. Video Rede TVT

Jan Rocha's Blog

Jan Rocha is a former correspondent for the BBC and the Guardian and lives in São Paulo, Brazil. She is the author of a number of LAB books, and contributes this regular column for LAB, known for its incisive analysis of current Brazilian politics.

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