COVID-19 Continues to Grow in Brazil, Some are Calling it “Genocide”

20 Jul 2020

In an Op-ed, Frei Betto released the following statement: A denunciation of what is happening in Brazil in recent months. In the letter, the Dominican friar speaks openly of the situation taking place “in the indifference of the Bolsonaro government.”

Dear friends,

In Brazil, a genocide is taking place! As I write to you on July 16, Covid-19, which appeared in this area in February of this year, has already killed 76 thousand people, and 2 million people are already infected. By next Sunday, July 19, we will reach 80 thousand victims. It is likely that at the moment, while you are reading this dramatic appeal of mine, the threshold of 100 thousand deaths is reached.

When I think that in the Vietnam war, which lasted 20 long years, the lives of 58 thousand US soldiers were sacrificed, I realize the seriousness of what is happening in my country. This horror causes indignation and rebellion. And we all know that the precautionary and restrictive measures adopted by many other countries would have been able to avoid such a large number of losses.

This genocide does not stem from the indifference of the Bolsonaro government. It is intentional. Bolsonaro welcomes the death of others. When he was a federal deputy, during an interview for television in 1999, he said: “With the vote, you will not change anything in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! Unfortunately, something will change only if one day we start a civil war, doing the work that the military regime has not done: that is, killing about 30 thousand people “.
He dedicated his vote in favor of the impeachment of President Dilma, in memory of the best-known army torturer, Colonel Brilhante Ustra.

He is so obsessed with death that one of his main government policies is the liberalization of the arms and ammunition trade. Questioned, on the door of the presidential palace, if he were not sorry for the death of the victims of the pandemic, he replied: “I don’t believe these numbers” (27/3, 92 dead); “One day we will all die” (29/3, 136 dead); “So? What do you want me to do? ” (28/4, 5,017 deaths).

But why this death policy?

From the beginning, Bolsonaro declared that the important thing was not to save lives, but the economy. Hence his refusal to decree the lockdown, to implement the WHO guidelines, to import respirators and personal protective equipment. The Supreme Court had to intervene, delegating these responsibilities to state governors and mayors.
Bolsonaro has not even respected the authority of his own health ministers. Brazil has had two since February, both resigned for refusing to adopt the same attitude as the president. Today the head of the ministry is General Pazuello, who understands nothing about health; who tried to hide data on the evolution of the number of coronavirus victims; who introduced 38 military personnel to fill important roles within the ministry, without having the necessary qualifications; and canceled the daily press conferences, through which the population was informed and received guidance.

It would be enough to list here the many measures to allocate resources in favor of victims and low-income families (over 100 million Brazilians) never put in place.

The reasons for the criminal intention of the Bolsonaro government are obvious. Let the elderly die, to save Social Security resources. Let the carriers of previous diseases die, to save resources of the SUS, the National Public Health System. Let the poor die, to save resources for the Bolsa Família program and other social programs aimed at 52.5 million Brazilians living in poverty, and the 13.5 million who are in extreme poverty (data from the Federal Government ).
Not satisfied with these disastrous measures, the president has now removed, from the decree issued on 3 July, the article that introduced the mandatory use of masks in commercial establishments, places of worship, and schools. It also eliminated the fine requirement for failure to comply with the rules and the government’s obligation to distribute masks to the poorest, main victims of Covid-19, and to detainees (750 thousand). However, these amendments do not cancel the local laws that have already provided for the mandatory use of masks.

On July 8, Bolsonaro removed articles from the law, approved by the Senate, which provided for the government’s obligation to supply drinking water and products for hygiene and cleaning, the installation of the internet, and the distribution of basic necessities, seeds, and agricultural tools, to indigenous villages. He also canceled the emergency funds for the health of indigenous peoples, as well as to facilitate access for indigenous and quilombola populations, to the emergency bonus of 600 reals (about 100 euros) for three months. It has still canceled the government’s obligation to offer more beds in hospitals, fans, and machinery for oxygenating blood to indigenous peoples and quilombola.
Indigenous people and quilombola have been decimated by the growing socio-environmental devastation, especially in the Amazon.

Please fully disclose this crime against humanity. This information needs to reach the press of your countries, social networks, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, and the International Court of Justice of The Hague, as well as banks and businesses that welcome investors, highly coveted by the Bolsonaro government.

Long before The Economist, I used to call BolsoNero the president – while Rome burns, he plays the lyre, spreading chloroquine, a remedy without any scientifically proven efficacy against the new coronavirus. But the producers are his political allies.

I thank you for your solidarity and please disclose this letter. Only pressure from abroad will be able to stop the genocide that is taking place in our beloved and wonderful Brazil.
Frei Betto

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