Under President Jair Bolsonaro, the destruction of Brazil's portion of the Amazon, the world's biggest rainforest, has increased by 75 percent compared to the previous decade

Scandals, Covid, deforestation: Brazil under Bolsonaro

Under President Jair Bolsonaro, the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, has increased by 75 percent over the previous decade – Copyright AFP JAVIER TORRES

Brazil’s first elected far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, nicknamed the “Trump of the Tropics”, is accused of letting Covid-19 spiral out of control and allowing the Amazon to burn out during his controversial first four years at the helm.

Here is a summary of the defining moments of his presidency:

– First far-right president –

On October 28, 2018, Brazil elects Bolsonaro, more than three decades after the end of the country’s military dictatorship, for which Bolsonaro, a former army captain, is openly nostalgic.

On the first day of the new year 2019, Bolsonaro takes office promising to “restore order” and launches a crusade against crime, corruption and “leftist ideology”.

– Gun Bill –

Bolsonaro is moving quickly to ease gun laws in one of the world’s most violent countries and is dramatically expanding the definition of self-defense.

The Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether some of its decrees are constitutional.

– Rules from the hospital –

Bolsonaro, who was stabbed while campaigning in 2018, underwent abdominal surgery in January 2019.

During his two-week stay in the hospital, he continues to rule the country from his bed. In mid-2021, he will be re-hospitalized to treat the effects of the attack, which require additional surgery. In 2022, he was hospitalized twice.

– The Amazon is on fire –

In mid-2019, massive fires caused by deforestation scorched entire swaths of the Amazon rainforest, provoking global criticism of Bolsonaro’s policies.

Under Bolsonaro, the destruction of the Brazilian part of the world’s largest rainforest has increased by 75 percent compared to the previous decade.

Bolsonaro has been heavily criticized for undermining the powers of oversight in the Amazon and for encouraging mining and agriculture in protected areas.

In January 2021, iconic indigenous leader and environmentalist Raoni Metuktire files a lawsuit against Bolsonaro at the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, accusing him of persecuting indigenous groups.

– Pensions and privatization –

In 2019, Bolsonaro raises the retirement age as part of an austerity program and begins selling off government assets, including an electricity supplier, Rio de Janeiro’s water company, and about 20 ports and airports.

– Covid Denial –

In a series of controversial moves that spark protests, Bolsonaro dismisses the March 2020 coronavirus as a “little flu”, defies World Health Organization recommendations and criticizes what he calls “scorched earth”, lockdown measures and masks.

Brazil has the second highest death toll from Covid in the world, with more than 680,000 deaths by the end of August 2022.

Bolsonaro is currently the fourth Minister of Health due to the pandemic.

Bolsonaro is also under investigation by prosecutors for allegedly failing to respond to reports of embezzlement regarding coronavirus vaccine purchases.

A Brazilian Senate committee has requested that he be charged with nine crimes related to his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, including “crimes against humanity.”

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand Bolsonaro’s impeachment for his handling of the health crisis.

– A series of corruption scandals –

In November 2020, the Rio prosecutor calls for the prosecution of Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator and the president’s eldest son, for embezzlement and money laundering. The case was later dismissed by the court.

In June 2021, Environment Minister Ricardo Salles resigns on suspicion of supporting the illegal export of Amazonian timber.

More recently, it was the turn of Education Minister Milton Ribeiro, who fell to the sword over allegations of influence peddling ordered by Bolsonaro.

– Attacks on the electoral system –

In August 2021, the Supreme Electoral Court decides to investigate Bolsonaro for his persistent and unsubstantiated attacks on the legitimacy of the e-voting system created in 1996.

In the meantime, the Supreme Court ordered an investigation against Bolsonaro and his entourage, in particular for spreading disinformation.

– Crisis Petrobras –

Between March and May 2022, Bolsonaro fires two presidents of state oil company Petrobras, as well as his energy minister, over disagreements over rising fuel prices.

On July 13, less than three months before the presidential election, parliament approves a government plan to distribute aid to the underprivileged.

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