- Gerardo Lisardi
- BBC News World
Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsonaro, received a severe setback this Tuesday: a commission of inquiry from his country’s Senate recommended that he be credited with managing the coronavirus pandemic.
The final report of the Senate committee that investigated the COVID-19 crisis in Brazil, approved this Tuesday by a vote of seven to four, accuses Bolsonaro nine crimes many ofincluding crimes against humanity.
This is happening in a delicate context in Brazil, with more than 600,000 deaths from the pandemic (the second-worst balance by country in the world, after the United States) and growing economic hardship.
Although the commission recommended indictment against 77 other people, advisers to government ministers and three of the president’s children, Bolsonaro has been singled out as “The one responsible for the mistakes made by the federal government during the pandemic”
The president denied any “blame” for the spread of the coronavirus in Brazil and criticized the work of the senators’ committee.
“They call me genocide, document falsification, exterminator of Indians: what these men did is absurd,” Bolsonaro told local radio on Monday.
However, experts warn that the 1,289-page report could have various consequences for the far-right president.
Carlos Pereira, professor of political science and professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, one of Brazil’s elite universities, tells BBC Mundo.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Bolsonaro has denied its seriousness, has shown himself against measures of isolation and social distancing, and has promoted mass events or medicines without proven efficacy against Covid-19 instead of using masks or vaccination.
After a six-month investigation that drew public attention, the Senate committee attributed a total of nine crimes to the president.
The list includes an epidemic crime that led to death, violation of preventive health measures, charlatanism, incitement to crime, falsification of private documents, illegal use of public resources and evasion, as well as crimes of responsibility and against humanity.
The first seven offenses are considered “ordinary”: Through the Brazilian Penal Code They can be punished with justice and even imprisonment.
The report also accuses Bolsonaro of responsibility crimes, can be dismissed in Congress to remove it.
Moreover, attributing crimes “against humanity” enshrined in the Rome Statute could ultimately be the motive Operation against Bolsonaro at the International Criminal Court (CPI).
The members of the Senate committee expected that they would send their charges to the Brazilian Attorney General’s Office, the Chamber of Deputies and the International Criminal Court to analyze the steps they are following.
Bolsonaro’s allies denied the existence of legal elements supporting the president’s criminalization and argued that Brazil had a federal system, Health management is also the responsibility of states.
Another leader who has sought to relativize the threat of COVID-19 is the former US president. Donald Trump, in a statement on Tuesday, expressed his support for Bolsonaro, who he said are “good friends”.
The Senate committee’s report marks a special moment in Brazil where it’s hard for governors to directly impeach them through congressional investigations.
however, There is no guarantee that the approved report will lead to formal charges being brought against Bolsonaro.
The Senate committee lacks the authority to directly convict the Brazilian president or the other defendants in their report.
For Bolsonaro to be formally charged in court, the approval of Brazil’s attorney general, Augusto Arras, is required. President’s ally who has already filed other investigation requests against him.
On the other hand, the opening of a political trial or the prosecution of Bolsonaro such as the one against his predecessors Dilma Rousseff and Fernando Collor de Mello must pass through the Speaker of the House, Arthur Lera, another ally of the president.
Nor is it certain that Bolsonaro will be tried before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, even though the Rome Statute is incorporated into Brazilian law.
For this to happen, the ICC must decide that The Senate’s complaint is within his jurisdiction Before starting a long search.
“I think the biggest impact will be political, not judicial: greater fragility of government in the eyes of society and a loss of government’s electoral competitiveness,” assesses Pereira.
He adds that rather than pressing for Bolsonaro’s ouster, former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva’s opposition Labor Party appears more interested in antagonizing a weak president.
Opinion polls indicate that in the eventual second round of elections, He will defeat Lula Bolsonaro by several points, whose approval rating has dropped to 22%, according to surveys by Datafolha.
Faced with various economic problems such as high inflation and high unemployment (14%), Bolsonaro is seeking to revive financial aid programs for the sectors most in need.
And through those same programs, the president improved his popularity last year.
But some economists predict that this spending could happen now Increasing mismatch of public accounts And bring new difficulties to the government.
When Bolsonaro began relativizing the Covid-19 threat, calling it a “fluzinha” and criticizing the shutdown of activities, some suspected his bet was to distance himself from the political cost of the pandemic.
If so, the Senate committee report indicates that the shooting could backfire on the Brazilian president and affect him at the polls as much as his “friend” Trump weighs.
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