Glenn Greenwald: Brazil’s Covid-19 response ‘not inept but deliberate’

By Mason Quah

GLENN Greenwald has denounced Jair Bolsonaro’s pandemic response as “deliberate” sacrifice of more than 50,000 lives to save a dwindling economy.

Like former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn before him, Greenwald told a Brazil Solidarity Initiative webinar that the priority of the economy over lives was similar to the US and the UK.

Brazil has gotten worse instead of better, the Intercept journalist said.

President Bolsonaro has opposed at every turn the quarantine measures imposed by local governments and advised upon by his first two health ministers.

Jeremy Corbyn laments worldwide healthcare inequality amid coronavirus pandemic

Mirroring Trump’s rallies, the leader has organised large in-person meetings with his supporters, without the use of social distancing or protective equipment.

With the health ministers removed, current Brazilian medical policy still involves the use of Chloroquine, the drug advocated for by Trump and pulled from testing in Europe over mortality concerns.

All three countries downplayed the early crisis for fear of economic damage.

In March, President Trump claimed a vaccine would be available “over the next few months”, in defiance to the statements of Dr Fauci, Director of NIAID.

Boris Johnson missed five consecutive Cobra meetings in the build-up to the pandemic hitting Britain, The Sunday Times reported.

Both the UK and the US have pivoted to accepting the virus as a threat, with Trump claiming he “always knew this was a real pandemic”.

Citing the removal of Brazilian health ministers and the appointment of military personnel to replace them, Greenwald also claimed activists must focus on the deep-rooted political corruption within the Bolsonaro regime.

Meanwhile, Brazil’s death toll had yet to slow when lockdown easing was announced toward the end of May.

A month later, the number of infections continues to climb. Greenwald said the actions were not down to incompetence but were rather a deliberate ploy to downplay the crisis and force the Brazilian economy back into motion.

The first quarter of 2020 demonstrated a notable shrink in GDP of 1.5 per cent.

By April, nearly 5 million Brazilians were unemployed. The value of the Brazilian Real has fallen due to uncertainty, leading to fears of a significant recession.

The mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and the presence of government corruption in Brazil is not merely a local issue, but stretches into the territory of environmental genocide.

It has led to the deliberate mismanagement of one of the world’s greatest natural resources as protections on the Amazon rainforest are stripped.

Last year Jair Bolsonaro claimed that the Amazon was not experiencing forest fires, claiming: “It’s by definition a tropical rainforest. It cannot possibly be caught on fire.”

Earlier this year, environmental minister Ricardo Salle was caught on tape saying that the pandemic would provide an effective distraction to “run the cattle herd” through the Brazilian rainforests to change “all the rules and simplify standards”.

Mismanagement of Brazil’s natural resources poses a global threat, through the climate consequences of deforestation.

It also poses an existential threat to the indigenous tribes that live on currently protected lands.

These groups were already threatened by the 2019 wildfires and will only be put under greater strain by the destruction of their homes and exposure to Covid-19 infected loggers.

Greenwald sees this mishandling of the pandemic as a symptom of Brazil’s heavily corrupt government, an issue he has covered for half a decade.

He said: “Dilma Rousseff’s 2016 impeachment was in my view the first very serious and grave attack on Brazilian democracy, the deliberate attempt to unravel Brazilian democracy out of anger that the elites of Brazil could not figure out a way to defeat the worker’s party.”

In 2019, Greenwald published a series of leaks showing collusion between the judge and prosecutors involved in the corruption probe regarding misappropriated Petrobras funds, which allegedly benefited the Worker’s Party that Rousseff belonged to.

Sergio Moro, the judge implicated in the leaks, was appointed Justice Minister under Bolsonaro.

Greenwald’s conclusion is that Brazil is headed towards a “reckoning”, setting up an inevitable clash between the people of Brazil and the economic minority that props up Bolsonaro’s government.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore @Flickr

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