Covid in Brazil: the great unboxing that rocked Bolsonara in the Senate

For three weeks, the Brazilian Senate Commission of Inquiry has caused a lot of tension in unpacking with condemning evidence of Jair Bolsonaro’s government irresponsibility in the face of the coronavirus crisis and nearly 445,000 deaths.

The letters “CPI”, the Portuguese initials for the “Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry”, appear in headlines daily, and television channels broadcast for hours during hearings.

Since its inception, the ICC has already played a colorful show with insults, quarrels, and threats of arrest. And even short-term discomfort from the former Minister of Health.

Brazilians, often dumbfounded, see former ministers or current members of government every day called in to answer questions from senators who are trying to understand the cause of such a massacre.

Without President Jair Bolsonaro denying the magnitude of the health crisis and his disregard for physical distancing rules, “how many lives could have been saved? “The accused is Randolph Rodriguez, who has served as vice president of the commission on several occasions.

Refusing vaccine offers from Pfizer, bulk procurement of ineffective drugs against the virus, inaction in the face of tragic oxygen shortages in Manaus (north): accusations are raining down and interviewees must talk about every step they have taken since the pandemic began.

“The government is in the balance. Every day there are new revelations and the loop is tightening, especially around Bolsonaro, whose responsibility is increasingly underlined, ”Geraldo Monteiro, a political scientist at the University of Rio de Janeiro (Werge), told AFP.

“No bomb”

“This sequence of testimonies testifies to the insanity of the crisis management government and confirms how irresponsible it was,” the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper said in an editorial.

Created at the end of April for a renewable period of 90 days, the committee, at the end of its work, will submit a report to the prosecutor’s office, which may open a case.

And the choice of a very determined speaker, Renan Calleiros, the cacique of the Senate, is not to the taste of the head of state. On 12 May, during one of the most tense hearings at the ICC, his eldest son Flavio Bolsonaro, also a senator, called Mr. Calheiros a “thug”.

“He can do his show, but he doesn’t knock me down. Only God can, ”- launched the next day the president, whose hearing is not scheduled.

The ICC cannot directly lead to the impeachment of the president, but its report can provide arguments in favor of a procedure initiated by the president of the Chamber of Deputies. This happened in 1992 when President Fernando Collor de Mello was dismissed.

The “unlikely” outcome is judged by Geraldo Monteiro. “More than a hundred applications for impeachment have already been submitted, but the chairman of the chamber has not done anything. This will really require explosive revelation, ”he said.

“At the moment, there was actually no bomb, but rather a confirmation of what we already knew,” he sums up.

“The right to shipwreck”

Whatever happens, the ICC is shaking up the project to re-elect Jair Bolsonaro in 2022. His popularity is at an all-time low and recent polls show that he is a loser to ex-President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva if he does.

The opposition has already appointed loyal lieutenants to the president. “You must apologize to the country, you obsessively deny, you were the compass that led us straight to shipwreck,” Senator Katya Abreu told former Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo.

The tension is all the more palpable as the witnesses interviewed in the endangered prison have lied to the ICC.

So, on May 12, Fabio Weingarten, the former head of the presidential communications department, was drenched in a cold sweat. Several senators threatened to demand his arrest, but the chairman of the commission, Omar Aziz, dissuaded them.

But military action did not stop opposition Senator Otto Alencar, a medical doctor, from seeking help for former Health Minister Eduardo Pasuello, who suffered mild discomfort Wednesday night after the first day of the hearing.

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