Brazil: There’s No Vaccine against the Death-President

By Fernando de la Cuadra on January 6, 2021

It has been 2 years since ex-captain Bolsonaro became president of Brazil, years during which we can confirm not only the shady character of his mis-government but also the compulsive tendency to become an ally with cruelty to and death of the Brazilian people.  There is no other way in which we can interpret the apathy and carelessness which the executive branch has shown in the fight against the pandemic that has devastated the world; this is most recently shown by the criminal slowness with which the process of vaccinating the inhabitants of this country has been implemented.

In spite of all existing evidence, the government continues to question the effectiveness of the vaccines and to request new records in order to give approval via the National Agency of Health Surveillance (ANVISA), a body that was highly prestigious prior to being literally occupied by active-duty and reserve military men without any applicable professional or technical knowledge of health or medicine.  As a result, ANVISA has been transformed into an enormous bureaucratic apparatus that answers only to ideological directives emitted by Bolsonaro and the ultra-rightists who hold the principle positions in his government.

The vast majority of the current government ministers seem very similar to the bizarre and pitiful characters invented by Roberto Bolaño in his novel Nazi Literature In America, a genuine kaleidoscope of frustrated failures, full of neuroses and outlandish ideas about reality, incubating fantasies of hidden enemies and intolerable conspiracy theories.  That is how some of the outrageous members of Bolsonaro’s cabinet behave, those who, together with some Pentecostal ministers, have begun to maintain that those who get vaccinated against COVID-19 will then be transformed into a type of crocodile found in large numbers in the Amazon and wetland regions.

It would be funny if it were not tragic.  The country is approaching the bitter toll of 200,000 dead and almost 8 million infected by the virus, but the authorities continue to be paralyzed, without any willpower to respond to the urgent need to begin a massive campaign of vaccination.  At this time, five of the largest hospitals in Sao Paulo are at overflow capacity, with 100% of the bed occupied by COVID-19 patients. The Minister of Health himself, General Pazuello, has been invisible for the last two weeks, unavailable to give any information or guidance to the population, who are waiting anxiously as they observe the process of immunization currently being carried out in many countries. Along with the inaction of the federal government, the total lack of coordination between the federal and state governments has Brazil at the back of the line to draw up contracts with the pharmaceutical companies, who are surely aware of the enormous demand.

It is a wake-up call for many specialists in epidemiology and public health, as they see how Brazil has remained very far behind in a matter of life and death for the millions of people who want to return to the so-called “new normal” with safety and confidence that they will not succumb to coronavirus.

While the public sector remains paralyzed, private clinics are negotiating contracts with certain pharmaceutical companies.  This may represent a solution for a minority of the population but not for the majority of the 210 million inhabitants of Brazil.  And, even more, once the elite segment of the population of the country is vaccinated, some of the pressure exerted on government  by the most influential groups will drastically diminish, causing increasing delay in the public health response to the pandemic.  In spite of all the criticism stated by the specialists and broadcast daily by the press, the president acts like he doesn’t know what is going on, responding simply, “We all have to die some day.”  This is the most grotesque statement by a head of state who has condemned thousands of people to death due to his carelessness and administrative negligence and his apathy and contempt for the lives of others.

As we already warned in an article published months ago, the policies of the Bolsonaro government are based on death, on the notion that those with political power should have decision-making power to determine who will be allowed to live and who are expendable, since their lives are seen as superfluous, left-over, “killable.”  In this way, they establish the standards for who has to be protected and have their conditions of life guaranteed and, on the other hand, those who can die because they are superfluous to requirements of the system, or because they represent a “menace to society” by thinking differently, or simply by being different.

Bolsonaro is the living incarnation of the perverse vision analyzed by Achille Mbembe, which he called “death politics.”  He is a death-president of a death-government that boasts of achieving herd immunity, with millions of infected people, and those numbers are increasing in exponential  fashion daily.  And who has placed a military officer at the head of the Ministry of Health who acts like an underling and not like someone who should make vital decisions to watch over the health and the lives of the population.  There’s a reason why it is now being called the Ministry of Sickness.

In the Middle of the Nightmare

To say that this has been a dark, difficult, scary period is no exaggeration.  This has been two years of dismantling public policies in almost all aspects of the nation; education, health, human rights, environmental protection, housing, basic sanitation, infrastructure, foresight, transportation, foreign relations, etc.  We still have two years of ex-captain Bolsonaro’s term of office remaining and the country remains sunk in a deep crisis at every level with no foreseeable way out in short-term or mid-range projections.  Bolsonaro himself regularly goes around repeating the saying “Brazil is broke,” as a way to avoid his responsibility for the fiscal insolvency of the government.  Creating false narratives and discrediting critics, the government artificially hides its own incompetence to deal with the problems of the nation.

Petitions to initiate a process of impeachment for the crime of irresponsibility, breaches of procedure or inability to carry out responsibilities have been accumulating in the files of the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, but, due to political calculation, excessive caution, or fear, he has refused to open any of the more than 30 petitions of impairment that have been made during the last two years. Since Rodrigo Maia is due to leave his post in February, procedures for electing a Chamber of Deputies president are already in progress.

The opposition, with great effort, has been able to forge an alliance revolving around  Baleia Rossi, the candidate of the  Brazilian Democratic Movement  (Movimiento Democrático Brasileño – MDB.)  This is the same party in which Michel Temer is an active member – Temer being the vice-president who betrayed his running-mate Dilma Rousseff in 2016.  In spite of all their resentments, the Workers Party (Partido de los Trabajadores) will support the candidacy of Rossi, assuming that, in this complicated crisis situation, it is necessary to gather together all the forces capable of establishing a counterweight or opposing power to the force of the executive branch in control of the complex of agencies with decision-making power in the country.

Perhaps the only thing that offers a bit of consolation to the groups of political opposition and the majority of the citizens who have withdrawn their support from Bolsonaro, is that from now on the half that remains of his term in office will get smaller each day until it arrives at the end on December 31 2022.  It is certainly a small consolation, since the risk still remains that, unless the democratic sectors are able to raise a unified viable alternative to the manipulation and coercion carried out by the followers of the death-president, this nightmare may repeat for another four years.

Source: America Latina en Movimiento, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau