Photo By: Matheus Camara da Silva from Unsplash

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is facing crimes against humanity charges regarding his response to COVID-19.

Brazil has the second-highest COVID-19 related death rate in the world, with 600,000 fatalities, second only to the United States. Mr. Bolsonaro is being accused of purposely letting the virus spread through the country in an effort to create herd immunity.

A 1300-page report accuses the President of mishandling the pandemic response in Brazil and spreading false information, among other things. The report is a product of six-months of investigative work to expose corruption within Brazil’s government.  It targets 77 selected individuals, including Mr. Bolsonaro’s sons and two corporations. It is to be submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) who will then determine whether or not to proceed in what could possibly be a lengthy legal process. 

Earlier in October, Bolsonaro said he was “bored” with questions about COVID-19 fatalities. This was only one in a long line of controversial comments from the President downplaying the pandemic, such as when he told the Brazilian population to “stop whining” amidst a spike in deaths back in March of 2020. More recently, a video posted by the President on YouTube was taken down as he attempted to make a connection between getting the COVID-19 vaccine and contracting AIDS.

Former US President Donald Trump, a longtime supporter of Bolsonaro, made news recently after endorsing Bolsonaro’s reelection bid in the wake of this report. 

Although Trump is vaccinated, (something he hesitantly endorsed at a rally in August) Mr. Bolsonaro is not. His vaccination status ultimately served as the catalyst for another recent story, as Bolsonaro was required to eat his lunch on the sidewalk while at the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, due to the city’s vaccine requirement to dine indoors.

Former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva described Bolsonaro as “genocidal” following the release of the report. Lula, who is running in Brazil’s upcoming general election, has seen a consistent lead in polls since September. 

With this report’s release, Bolsonaro’s popularity has taken a further hit and many are wondering what effects it will have on his place in the upcoming election, regardless of if the charges ultimately go anywhere.

The future is uncertain as the people of Brazil wait hesitantly to see what will come from the report and prepare to make their voices heard in the upcoming election in October 2022.