With 680,000 dead in the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazilians are looking for answers. One version arrived this week in a report from the Senate accusing President Jair Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity.
The 1,200-page report called for about 70 people, including Bolsonaro and his sons, to be indicted on charges ranging from charlatanism and inciting crime to misuse of public funds and crimes against humanity.
By insisting on early treatment drugs like hydroxychloroquine as “practically the only government policy to fight the pandemic,” the report says, “Jair Bolsonaro strongly collaborated for Covid-19′s spread in Brazilian territory and, as such, showed himself to be the main person responsible for the errors committed by the federal government during the pandemic.”
The report asserts that Bolsonaro’s government “deliberately exposed the population to a concrete risk of mass infection”. From the government’s point of view, it was pursuing a policy of herd immunity, against the advice of experts.
The chair of the committee which produced the report, Senator Omar Aziz, says that there is enough evidence to put Bolsonaro behind bars. ¨If the Attorney General does nothing, we will go to the Supreme Court and also to the International Court of Justice at The Hague,” he said. “We will continue to put pressure to make sure justice is done.”
The controversial President has a capacity for weathering storms, but these accusations could hurt his re-election chances next year.
An op-ed in the BMJ by three academics from the University of Sao Paulo was scathing:
“This case should be a lesson to other countries and for future pandemics. It is critical that we prevent other governments elsewhere in the world from letting pandemics follow their natural devastating course, under the excuse of protecting the economy and glorifying societal freedoms without protecting the most vulnerable people. For the future security of global health, the international community has a duty to acknowledge that this is a crime which, although inflicted on the people of Brazil, has targeted and threatened the whole of humanity.”