A Brazilian senate committee will on Wednesday ask that President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with “intentional” crimes over his management of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has left 600,000 of his compatriots dead.
Six months of eventful hearings, with emotional witness statements and chilling revelations about the use of ineffective medication on “human guinea pigs,” the committee of inquiry will deliver its eagerly awaited report.
Renan Calheiros, the centrist senator who is the lead author of the 1,200-page report, has already revealed that he has retained at least nine charges against the far-right president, including “quackery” and “crimes against humanity.”
The accusations are serious, the process may be just symbolic since Bolsonaro enjoys enough congressional support to avoid the opening of impeachment proceedings.
It is yet another headache for the president, whose popularity has plummeted to an all-time low and who trails leftist former leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in polls ahead of next year’s general election.
The report was originally due to be presented on Tuesday but had to be put back 24 hours, eliciting criticism from Brazilian media, which have already started leaking details.
Antonio Carlos Costa , president of the Rio de Paz NGO said,”What we’ve seen is the antithesis of what we expected from the president of the republic,”. “We’ve never seen him shed tears of compassion, nor express his condolences for the Brazilian people in mourning.”
The committee investigated the government over the crippling lack of oxygen in the northern city of Manaus during the worst moments of the pandemic, and also the delays in buying vaccines, Bolsonaro’s anti lockdown speeches, and his original belittling of what he called a “little flu.”
On Monday, the committee also heard the harrowing testimony of a nurse in Manaus who saw dozens of patients dying and had to take care of her sister’s four children after she also succumbed to the virus.
Another branch of the investigation focused on the relationship between Brasilia and private health insurers accused of promoting “early treatment” with medications such as hydroxychloroquine, which has been scientifically proven to be ineffective.
Omar Aziz, the committee’s president, said on Tuesday ,”The committee report clearly aims to result in the sanctioning of those responsible, and there are a lot. We cannot allow ourselves to not punish them”.