Brazilian senator's report recommends criminal charges against Jair Bolsonaro for deadly COVID-19 blunders

Brazilian senator's report recommends criminal charges against Jair Bolsonaro for deadly COVID-19 blunders

Not unlike former President Donald Trump in the United States, far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro seriously downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic — and Brazil is second only to the U.S. when it comes to pandemic fatalities. Now, a Bolsonaro adversary in the Brazilian Senate, Sen. Renan Calheiros, is recommending criminal charges for the far-right president in an in-depth report. But some legal experts in South American's largest country, Reuters reports, believe that Calheiros's proposals are unlikely to get very far.

According to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, more than 4.9 million people have died from COVID-19 worldwide —including over 603,000 in Brazil. The COVID-19 death count in the U.S., Hopkins reports, is now more than 728,000.

Reuters reporters Ricardo Brito and Lisandra Paraguassu explain, "Bolsonaro has dismissed the probe as politically motivated. It is highly unlikely that he will face trial on any such charges, which would have to be brought by Brazil's prosecutor general whom Bolsonaro appointed. The nearly 1200-page document, prepared by opposition Sen. Renan Calheiros for a Senate commission that conducted the probe, alleges that Bolsonaro turned down early opportunities for the government to acquire vaccines, delaying Brazil's inoculation campaign and costing an estimated 95,000 lives."

Calheiros' report, sounding a lot like critics of Trump's COVID-19 response in the U.S., alleges that Bolsonaro was motivated "by an unfounded belief in the theory of herd immunity by natural infection and the existence of a treatment."

The report says, "Without the vaccine, deaths would be stratospheric, as they turned out to be."

In the South American media, Bolsonaro is often described as "the Trump of the Tropics" because of the many ways in which he resembles Trump and the MAGA movement. Trump and his allies (including Donald Trump, Jr. and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon) have often voiced their support for Bolsonaro, with many Trumpistas using the slogan "Make Brazil Great Again."

But Bolsonaro's detractors in Brazil have stressed that there is nothing great about the far-right president, slamming him as a dangerously authoritarian extremist — and they are hoping that he will be voted out of office in Brazil's next presidential election. Bolsonaro once commented that Brazil's notorious military regime of the 1960s screwed up by torturing opponents when it should have been killing them instead. Moreover, Bolsonaro also said, during a 1990s interview, that if he were president, he would "stage a coup" and "shut down Congress" if he ever became president. So far, Brazil's checks and balances have held up, but Bolsonaro's critics fear that they won't if he wins a second term.

According to Brito and Paraguassu, Calheiros' report also recommends criminal charges for three of President Bolsonaro's sons: Sen. Flávio Bolsonaro (a bitter rival of Calheiros in the Brazilian Senate), Federal Deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro and Rio de Janiero City Councilman Carlos Bolsonaro.

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