Brazilian Senate Report to Indict President Bolsonaro over the pandemic: NPR

Brazilian Senate Report to Indict President Bolsonaro over the pandemic: NPR


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro awaits the arrival of Colombian President Ivan Duque at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Tuesday. Duque is on a two-day visit to Brazil.

Eraldo Peres / AP


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Eraldo Peres / AP


Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro awaits the arrival of Colombian President Ivan Duque at the Planalto Presidential Palace in Brasilia, Brazil on Tuesday. Duque is on a two-day visit to Brazil.

Eraldo Peres / AP

BRASILIA, Brazil – Brazilians will focus on the Senate on Wednesday, where a six-month-long report will recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with allegedly botching the COVID-19 pandemic response and killing the country Toll on the second highest in the world.

A draft report, emerging from a Senate committee investigation, a copy of which was reviewed by The Associated Press on Tuesday, recommended that the president be charged on 11 charges, ranging from charlatanism and incitement to crime, to murder and genocide.

In the so-called “G7” group of the committee of non-Bolsonaros senators, three refused to accept charges of murder and genocide, said five committee members, who agreed to only discuss details of the sensitive talks if they did not were cited by name.

Analysts said it was unclear whether such recommendations would lead to charges against the president. That would be a decision for Brazil’s attorney general, who was appointed by the president.

Bolsonaro has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly accused the investigation of being a political tool aimed at sabotaging him.

Critics have denounced Bolsonaro for downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, ignoring international health guidelines on masks and activity restrictions to prevent the virus from spreading, touting unproven treatments and delaying vaccine acquisitions.

Anger over the president’s stance led to the formation of the Senate committee in April to investigate allegations that Bolsonaro’s management of the pandemic caused many of the more than 600,000 deaths in Brazil from COVID-19.

The nearly 1,200-page draft report was written by Senator Renan Calheiros, who was due to present its final version to the 11-member committee on Wednesday.

The document must be approved by the committee before being forwarded to the Attorney General’s office, which will decide whether to continue the investigation and possibly bring charges. In Brazil, members of congressional committees can investigate but have no right of indictment.

Regardless of the exact content of the final version of the report or whether the attorney general takes action, his allegations are expected to fuel criticism of the far-right leader, whose approval ratings plummeted ahead of his 2022 re-election campaign.

“The investigation has mainly political implications because it has produced tons of news that will certainly be used by election strategists in the next year,” said Thiago de Aragão, strategy director at the political consultancy Arko Advice.

In its current form, the draft report concludes that the government “has deliberately exposed the population to a specific risk of mass infection” influenced by a group of informal advisors who advocated the prosecution of herd immunity, even after many experts do not considered practicable possibility.

Even during the worst of the pandemic, Bolsonaro steadfastly opposed social distancing measures, claiming the poor would suffer even worse hardship if the economy stalled. He goes on to argue that the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine is effective in treating COVID-19, despite scientists dismissing it as ineffective.

During the six-month investigation, senators obtained thousands of documents and heard testimony from over 60 people.

“This committee has gathered evidence that is ample evidence that the federal government has remained silent and has opted for non-technical and reckless action,” the draft report said.

A particularly sensitive issue was Senator Calheiros’ insistence on including a recommendation that the International Criminal Court investigate Bolsonaro for possible genocide of indigenous peoples, said the senators, who spoke to the AP. They said that members of the committee were angry, including critics of the government for calling the genocide an exaggeration that could undermine the credibility of the entire report.

While the senators showed less resistance to recommending a murder charge, they had similar concerns, the senators said.

“The attorney general’s office will use a magnifying glass to look for errors, omissions and inconsistencies in order to wash their hands,” said Carlos Melo, a political scientist who teaches at Insper University in Sao Paulo. “If you have 10 very strong allegations and one that is contradicting itself, the government will stick with them to discredit the entire report.”

In addition to Bolsonaro, the draft report recommended indictments against dozens of allies and current and former members of his administration.



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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