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A billboard with the image of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is seen vandalized with red paint and feces as a protest of his governmental management of the coronavirus pandemic, in Carpina, Pernambuco state, Brazil, on March 27, 2021. (Photo: Leo Malafaia/AFP via Getty Images)

A billboard with a vandalized image of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro states, "Thank you, president, for your efforts and funding to combat Covid-19" in Carpina, Pernambuco on March 27, 2021. (Photo: Leo Malafaia/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil Senate Panel Backs Indictment of Bolsonaro for 'Terrifying' Covid-19 Crimes

"It is evident that the president of the republic is the main culprit for most of the more than 600,000 deaths."

Brett Wilkins

Right-wing Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be criminally charged for offenses related to his mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic—ranging from crimes against humanity to quackery—federal lawmakers who voted to approve an inquiry commission's report said Tuesday.

"This period will sadly be remembered as Brazil's greatest civilizational regression. The atrocities committed by this government will not be forgotten."

O Globo reports the Federal Senate's Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for the Covid-19 pandemic (CPI da Pandemia) voted 7-4 to endorse a report's recommendation for the indictment of Bolsonaro and 77 others—including several Cabinet ministers and three of the president's children.

Earlier this month, the CPI released a nearly 1,200-page report on the Bolsonaro administration's policies and actions that helped bring Brazil's Covid-19 death toll to more than 600,000—the world's second-highest after the United States.

The CPI report accuses Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity, epidemic crimes resulting in death, violations of preventive sanitary measures, medical quackery, criminal incitement, forgery, misuse of public funds, trespassing, and criminal malfeasance. The senators found that the president "deliberately exposed" Brazilians to "mass infection" in a scientifically dubious effort to achieve herd immunity from the coronavirus.

"We saw terrifying crimes, inhuman barbarities, mockery of life, contempt for pain," Sen. Renan Calheiros (Brazilian Democratic Movement-Alagoas), who voted to endorse charges against Bolsonaro, said of the report. "This period will sadly be remembered as Brazil's greatest civilizational regression. The atrocities committed by this government will not be forgotten."

Calheiros continued:

The chaos of the Jair Bolsonaro government will go down in history as the lowest rung of human and civilizational indigence. It brings together what is most base, infamous, and darkest about humanity. [Bolsonaro] sabotaged science, is unprepared, dishonest, petty, arrogant, authoritarian, with a coup-like nature, bellicose, a liar, and acted like a maddened missionary to keep his base. There is a murderer in the Planalto Palace.

The centrist senator added that Bolsonaro belongs in a "gallery of thugs of history" alongside Nazi Germany's Adolf Hitler and former U.S.-backed dictators Augusto Pinochet of Chile and Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay, because "his path is marked by... the desire to exterminate the adversary, arm the population, and worship murderous butchers."

Leftist lawmakers in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies—the lower house of the National Congress—welcomed the vote.

"It is evident that the president of the republic is the main culprit for most of the more than 600,000 deaths," Federal Deputy Lídice da Mata (Brazilian Socialist Party-Bahia) tweeted. "All the crimes attributed to him in the... report were committed, and it is indeed genocide."

Federal Deputy Marcelo Freixo (Brazilian Socialist Party-Rio de Janeiro) said that "it is the obligation of the deputies to continue the courageous work of the senators and to put all the pressure to vote for the impeachment of Bolsonaro. The crimes for which the president is responsible killed hundreds of thousands of Brazilians and the Chamber cannot remain silent."

According to Forum, the crimes imputed to Bolsonaro carry potential prison sentences ranging from 21 to 78 years, although it is highly unlikely that the president will face prosecution, as Attorney Gen. Bruno Bianco and Chamber of Deputies President Arthur Lima are both the president's allies.

The CPI report also calls upon Brazil's Supreme Court to suspend Bolsonaro's social media accounts for falsely linking coronavirus vaccines with AIDS.

Massive nationwide street protests and calls to impeach Bolsonaro have proliferated this year. Indigenous groups have also accused the president of "genocide" and "ecocide." 

With the 2022 presidential election approaching, opponents have warned of an insurrection akin to the attack on the United States Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, as Bolsonaro has muddied the political waters with baseless claims of fraud.

"This country is going to overcome this moment," said center-left Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues (REDE-Amapá), who also voted to endorse criminal charges against the president. "Brazil is much more than Bolsonaro."

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