The Brazilian President, who is spending a few days on a beach vacation, got angry this Monday when a woman questioned him about the more than 600,000 deaths that covid-19 has already caused in the country.
“In which country didn’t people die?”, asked Jair Bolsonaro three times, who, faced with the woman’s lack of response, added visibly upset: “Look, I didn’t come here to get upset.”
Brazil surpassed the barrier of 600 thousand deaths by covid-19 last Friday and, so far, the head of state has not yet commented on this tragic mark, which until then had only been surpassed by the United States.
Before being questioned by his wife, in a conversation with some supporters on Guarujá beach, in São Paulo, Bolsonaro assured that the country “is coming out of this health crisis”, considering that the pandemic “almost ended”, taking into account the sharp reduction in the number of deaths and infections that has been recorded in recent months.
This vertical drop in statistics has been attributed, above all, to the advance of vaccination, which today reaches 47% of the 213 million Brazilians with the complete vaccination schedule, while just over 70% have only the first dose.
“They call me a denier and we gave 20 billion reais (about 3.13 billion euros) to buy vaccines,” added the Brazilian leader, who since the beginning of the pandemic has always minimized its severity and began to question the effectiveness of immunizers.
Bolsonaro again criticized the “stay at home policy, the economy comes later”, alluding to the confinements and other measures that restricted mobility in the worst moments of the health crisis and that were adopted by governors and mayors.
“Now we have inflation and we’re all paying the bill,” said the President, who assessed that the loss of purchasing power of Brazilians and the increase in prices registered this year, already close to 9%, are a consequence of these restrictive measures.
Austrian NGO accuses Bolsonaro of “crimes against humanity” in the ICC
This Tuesday, an Austrian non-governmental organization filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Brazilian President, accusing him of “crimes against humanity” due to Amazon deforestation, with an impact on global health.
In the complaint, which the court based in The Hague is not obliged to follow up, the NGO AllRise claims that the Government headed by Bolsonaro is responsible, annually, for the deforestation of about four thousand square kilometers of the Amazon forest and that the rate of deforestation increased 88% since he came to power.
The NGO also accuses him of having sought to “systematically” weaken or remove laws and official bodies that regulate these practices, as well as environmental protection activists.
These actions “are directly linked to negative impacts of climate change around the world,” say the plaintiffs, who rely on the assessment of Oxford University climatologist Friederike Otto, lead author of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report, described as an “alert red” for humanity by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres.
Experts invoked in the complaint considered that emissions resulting from deforestation conducted during Bolsonaro’s tenure could cause more than 180 thousand deaths additional worldwide by the end of the century.
“We want to understand the causal relationship between what is happening in Brazil, this massive deforestation, with the global climate”, said AllRise founder Johannes Wesemann to the agency France-Press.
“It’s exactly (…) the definition of a crime against humanity: the intentional destruction of the environment and its defenders”, he said.
The complaint also targets several high-ranking officials of the Brazilian government, lawyer Nigel Povoas told AFP. “We affirm that, due to the policies that are being pursued, they are complicit in helping those who commit murder, persecution and other inhumane acts on the ground,” he said.
Bolsonaro is already the target of several complaints presented in the ICC.
In January 2021, Chief Raoni Matuktire, an emblematic defender of the Amazon rainforest, had already asked the ICC to investigate “crimes against humanity” allegedly committed by the Brazilian President, accused of “persecuting” indigenous peoples, destroying their habitat and violate their fundamental rights.
In July 2020, health workers in Brazil also asked the ICC to open an inquiry into “crimes against humanity” allegedly committed by Bolsonaro, this time for his management of the covid-19 pandemic.
More recently, in August of this year, the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Apib) also accused the Government of Bolsonaro of genocide of the native population, asking the ICC to open an inquiry.
For a formal investigation to be opened, the ICC’s prosecutor, created in 2002 to try the worst atrocities committed in the world, must conclude that it has a mandate to do so and that the complaint is solid enough to justify the investigation.