Let’s express our solidarity with Lula and all Brazilians, making sure far-right Bolsonaro will be the next to go, says Claudia Webbe MP
Even before the recent news that Brazil’s election authority is due to investigate the country’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, growing dissatisfaction with his appalling mismanagement of the pandemic saw protests in late July in 350 areas across Brazil, including 20 major cities, demanding his resignation.
Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic has wreaked havoc in Brazil. Earlier this year he called state governors “tyrants” for seeking to impose lockdowns in order to deal with staggering levels of Covid in the country.
In March, Bolsonaro – who has dismissed Covid as just “a little flu” and told people drawing attention to the public health crisis to “stop whining” – resisted calls by a forum of Brazil’s state governors to impose stricter measures to control infections.
Two months later, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom called for “aggressive” measures to contain the Covid pandemic.
He said that the raging rates of the virus will continue to affect the whole world if not suppressed, and the rest of Latin America in particular, and called for an increase in the rate of vaccinations.
Now in August, Brazil has reported over 20 million cases and recorded a staggering 559,000 deaths, the second-highest death toll globally after the United States.
Furthermore, these official figures are widely thought to understate the problem. The avalanche of cases has brought Brazil’s health system close to collapse, with patients dying while waiting for available intensive-care beds.
Trump may have gone, but his major ally in Brazil has been in denial about the pandemic, claiming the same week that drastic shortages in oxygen, medicines and beds in 25 of 27 states were dominating the headlines, that Brazil “has been setting an example at the forefront in the quest for solutions.”
The country currently accounts for around 13% of the global deaths from Covid. The far-right Government’s failure to proceed quickly with a vaccination programme has contributed to this dire situation. So far only 21% of the population have received two doses of the vaccine.
Additionally, roughly twice as many white Brazilians have received vaccines as Black Brazilians, showing once again how the far-right’s discriminatory and racist agenda runs throughout each area of government policy.
Bolsonaro’s overall handling of the pandemic, including the government’s purchase of vaccines, has been under investigation by the Senate. He was initially sceptic of vaccines which saw him claim that “if you turn into a crocodile, it’s your problem” – but he has since backtracked.
But the Senate inquiry uncovered evidence pointing to potential illegalities in the way that the Indian vaccine Covaxin was acquired for the government’s programme. A senior official at the Health Ministry testified before the Senate that he had been pressured to authorise the import of the vaccine and pay $45 million in advance to a third company.
His request to Bolsonaro to sanction an investigation into the deal had met with no response. Federal prosecutors subsequently opened a case on the contract, citing a number of concerns about how it was managed.
These serious allegations have led a broad grouping of politicians, together with social movements, trade unions and indigenous groups, to request the country’s lower house to impeach Bolsonaro for a list of alleged crimes.
Bolsonaro has also been losing support in the country for his neoliberal programme, including budget cuts and the privatisation of public companies – including Electrobras which produces 30% of the country´s power.
Anti-Bolsonaro opposition and Brazil’s left-wing movements in particular had received a massive boost in March when Brazil’s Supreme Court Judge, Edson Fachin overturned all convictions against Brazilian Workers’ Party leader and former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Around the world these charges had always been condemned as politically motivated and ‘trumped up’. The court’s decision is of particular importance as it restores Lula’s political rights, making him eligible again to run for office, including the Presidency next year.
In a recent survey of more than 2,000 Brazilians conducted by the Institute for Research and Consulting Intelligence, Lula led in voting intentions for the 2022 presidential election, with 49% saying they would vote for him compared to 23% for Bolsonaro. No other potential candidates could muster a double-digit showing.
Public rejection of Bolsonaro is also on the increase, according to the survey. 62% of those surveyed said they would not be voting for Bolsonaro at all, up from 56% in a poll conducted in February. By contrast, those rejecting a vote for Lula fell from February’s 44% to 36% in the latest poll.
With Lula playing a leading role in the movement for a genuine, public national vaccination programme and in the broad opposition to Bolsonaro’s failed handling of the pandemic, his popularity is likely to grow in the next 15 months before the election in October 2022.
Bolsonaro’s main ally, Trump, has gone. Let’s express our solidarity with Lula and all Brazilians, making sure far-right Bolsonaro will be the next to go.
Claudia Webbe MP is the Member of Parliament for Leicester East. You can follow her on facebook and twitter.
Find out more about the Brazil Solidarity Initiative at www.brazilsolidarity.co.uk
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