By K. Manoggnya Reddy

Published On: October 26, 2021 at 12:00 IST


Over 600,000 people died in Brazil due to the COVID-19. The virus was dismissed as “little flu” by President Jair Bolsonaro.

Despite contracting the virus himself, Bolsonaro still promoted unproven statements regarding the dismissal of the virus. The senate now initiated an inquiry stating he should face charges for alleged negligence. With over 600,000 confirmed deaths in Brazil, the country has been regarded as the second-highest death rate in the world due to Coronavirus. Experts warn that the situation may not peak for several weeks.

The coronavirus variant that emerged in Brazil earlier this year has caused concern around the world. President Jair Bolsonaro has been criticized for his handling of the outbreak. He has now turned his attention to a campaign aimed at immunizing the country to which the critics respond by saying, it is far too late.

Covid-19 in Brazil

By the month of June 2020, Brazil’s method of handling the Pandemic has turned highly political.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the changes that were already taking place in Brazil’s political structure. These changes will have a huge impact on how the country will be positioned internationally. The political structures in Brazil have reacted to the Covid-19 outbreak based on President Jair Bolsonaro’s chaotic response.

Jair Bolsonaro, the democratic leader of Brazil, is the only democratic leader in the region and the whole world who effectively denied the seriousness of Brazil’s situation. He called it “simple flu” and that he wanted people to ignore the quarantine method and go out on the streets.

In April, Bolsonaro fired the popular Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello after he had asked Brazilians for help in a national emergency. Days later, he joined protesters who demanded the closure of the National Congress and the Supreme Court. They said these two institutions were impeding the recovery of the economy.

What could be the explanation for Bolsonaro’s behavior?

One of the explanations for this behavior could be the concerns over a stagnant economy which will have an impact on the whole population causing more fatalities rather than the fatalities that may be caused by the COVID-19.

The rise in the number of people without jobs and the fall in income could have been blamed on the government, while the deaths “mostly of the elderly” has been stated by the president would be minimized.

Jair Bolsonaro is pushing a false dichotomy towards the citizens of Brazil; between the stock market and life. He is encouraging his supporters to believe that it will eventually economic death and choose it over probable physical death.

The second explanation is that it is the mimicry of US President Donald Trump and that it is rooted in his political philosophy; operating as if he is on a movement to enemy creation. This concept proposes that scientists, university professors, and the press have come together to destabilize the government with the overrated threat of a ‘virus’, based on ‘mass hysteria’. This speech helped keep Bolsonaro’s supporters active and engaged in the public debate.

What was the reaction to the comments made by him?

The Governor of Sao Paulo, Joao Doria has reacted severely critically to comments made by the President regarding the outbreak of cholera.

Doria said that President Bolsorano was a “crazy guy” for attacking the officials who are trying to fight the pandemic by buying vaccines and helping the country.

“How can we face the problem, seeing people die every day? The health system in Brazil is on the verge of collapse,” Mr. Doria said.

President Bolsonaro has been against the introduction of quarantine measures by the governors, which he claims would have a negative effect on the economy.

“Unfortunately, Brazil has to fight, at this moment, two viruses: the coronavirus and Bolsonaro virus. This is a sadness for the Brazilians,” Mr. Doria said.

The political system in Brazil changed when the governors of the most important states decided to follow the other direction. In Brazil, the political system is heavily weighted towards the federal executive. The current executive’s busy decisions and the rise of other political actors are pushing more political actors to become more relevant. Despite the president’s statements about the minimizing seriousness of the situation, many governors responded by issuing quarantine orders for various states.

Despite the lack of proper equipment in Brazilian hospitals, some regions, such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, were quick to accommodate patients. The Supreme Court ruled that states have the authority to formulate their own policies related to the fight against the virus.

The president campaigned against the issuing of the emergency economic package to the states in the month of April, the National Congress also guaranteed to pass a law despite the president’s wishes.

What are the charges of Crimes Against Humanity against Bolsonaro?

A major inquiry report stated that president Bolsonaro was to be charged with criminal charges of crimes against humanity. The report is the culmination of an investigation that revealed widespread corruption and scandals in government.

The President of Brazil, Bolsonaro, has been accused of failing to prevent the spread of a deadly virus that has killed over 600,000 people. The panel has asked Jair Bolsonaro to face multiple criminal charges, including crimes of humanity. Reacting to a report President Bolsonaro said that he is guilty of absolutely nothing.

“We know that we did the right thing from the first moment,” he said.

The initial drafts of the report had suggested that the president be charged with genocide and homicide against indigenous groups which were later dropped.

The President has not scheduled a televised address since then. For which the possible reason could be that he is not eager to be interrupted by the pot-banging protesters on the balconies who are eager to let their anger known on his way of ruling.

In the absence of public broadcasting, the public displays of irreverence continue.

When asked about the number of people who died due to the protests, President Bolsonaro said that he was not a ‘grave-digger. The message that has remained the same is that states have been reckless in their quarantine measures, and the damage they cause economically will be worse than the virus itself.

“He doesn’t want to be seen as the person responsible for what very well may become the worst economic crisis in Brazil’s history. [He’s] decided to not take responsibility because he sees that as his best chance to stay in office. I can’t see him now changing gears.” said Oliver Stuenkel, Professor of International Relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation in São Paulo.

What measures are the cities and states taking now?

As hospitals across the country struggle with overcrowding, local officials have been taking matters into their own hands. Rio de Janeiro has joined the growing list of cities that are restricting access to beaches and bars in order to prevent the spreading of the virus. During that timeline, establishments on the city’s beaches were required to close early and suspend their commercial activities for a week.

The measures were announced after So Paulo state declared a code red situation, which ordered the closure of non-essential businesses for two weeks. The governors of several states said they would buy vaccines from manufacturers directly, rather than wait for the government to deliver them.


The Supreme Court has launched investigations into allegations of political interference and disinformation by the supporters of President Bolsonaro. Tensions between the judiciary and Bolsonaro are high.

During the past few months, the political scandal has been bigger than the pandemic. It has deeply affected Brazil and its citizens. The health crisis is still very important in Brazil but It is just that the magnitude of the political scandal and its implications is one of the important aspects of Brazil.

Those who oppose Mr. Bolsonaro fear that he might start a military dictatorship. He has defended the country’s military dictatorship and supports protests calling for an end to the Supreme Court and Congress.

Despite losing support in recent months, his core support base has strengthened. Supporters believe that the economy is still struggling and that the concerns about the Covid-19 virus are overblown.

In this pandemic, the military has been strengthened through the appointment of Eduardo Pazuello as the interim health minister. He doesn’t have a medical background and was appointed by President Bolsonaro.

The army has been tasked with increasing the production of hydroxychloroquine, which is an anti-malarial promoted by President Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro which has no proven benefits when it comes to the treatment of Covid-19.

No one knows where the pandemic is going next in Brazil. There are so many worrying details about the virus here that it’s hard to get a true picture of its extent.


K. Manoggnya Reddy is a student of BBA.LLB at ICFAI Law School. She is the kind of person who is hardworking not to achieve dreams but to collide with the reality. She is a typical student who likes to keep being positive most of the time. Achieving good results is her motivational drive. She is excited to improve and correct her mistakes. She took up law studies to achieve a stable career and now thriving to achieve the respect that she deserves from the society and to give the service the society deserves in return.

Edited by: Aashima Kakkar, Associate Editor, Law Insider


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