The reality of Brazil and covid 19 – A letter from our brother Frei Betto OP
“Genocide is taking place in Brazil!”
This is the dramatic testimony of Frei Betto OP in a letter to Friends outside of Brazil.
My dear Friends:
A genocide is happening in Brazil! At the time I am writing, 16th July, the Covid-19, started here in February this year, and already it has killed 76 thousand people. And before that, 2 million were infected. Up to Sunday, 19th July, there will be 80 thousand fatal victims. It is possible that now while you read this dramatic appeal, the numbers of victims will be 100 thousand.
When I remember that in the war in Vietnam, which lasted for twenty years, 58 thousand USA American military were sacrificed, I think of the seriousness of whatis happening in my country.
This horror causes indignation and revolt. And we all know the measures of precaution and restriction, which were adopted in so many other countries, and which would have prevented the number of these deaths.
This genocide is not the result of the indifference of Bolsonaro´s government. It is intentional.
Bolsonaro is satisfied with the death of others. When he was the federal deputy, in a television interview in 1999, he declared: “through your vote nothing will change in this country, nothing, absolutely nothing! It will only change unfortunately, if one day we set out on a civil war here in our country, and doing the work which a military regime did not do: killing some 30 thousand people.
When he was voting in favour of the impeachment of the president, Dilma, he offered his vote to the memory of the most notorious torturer of the Army, The Coronel Brilhante Ustra. Because he was so concerned with death one of his main government policies is to free up the trade in arms and ammunitions. When he was questioned at the door of the presidential palace if he was concerned about the victims of the pandemic he replied “I don´t believe in these numbers (92 deaths in 27March.) We are all going to die one day” (March 29,136 deaths): “So what? What do you want me to do? (April 28th, 5.017 deaths.)
But why this necrophiliac policy? From the beginning he declared that the important thing was not to save lives, but the economy. Hence, his refusal to declare a lockdown or to comply with the WHO guidelines or import ventilators and equipment for personal protection. The Supreme Court had to delegate this responsibility to governors and prefects. Bolsonaro does not even respect the authority of his own Health Ministers. Since February Brazil has had two ministers but both were dismissed because they refused to adopt the same attitude as the president. Now at the head of the ministry is General Pazuello who does not understand anything about health issues; he tried to hide data about the evolution of the numbers of victims of the corona virus; he employed 38 military personnel to important ministerial functions without their having the required qualifications ; he cancelled the daily press conferences by which the population received guidelines.
It would be impossible to list here, the number of measures to free up resources to help the victims of low income families (over 100 million Brazilians) that have never been implemented.
The reasons for the criminal intent of Bolsonaro´s government are obvious. Leave the elderly to die to save Social Security resources. Letting people with pre-existing diseases die to save resources from SUS , the national health system. To let the poor die to save resources from the Family Income and other social programmes, for the 52.5 million Brazilians living in poverty and the 13.5 million in extreme poverty. (Federal Government Data). And not satisfied with such lethal measures, the President has now vetoed a law which was sanctioned on the 3rd July, the clause which obliges the use of masks in commercial establishments , religious churches and teaching institutes. He has also vetoed the imposition of fines for those who disregard the rules and the obligation of the government to distribute masks, to the poorest people, the principal victims of Covid -19, and also to prisoners (750 thousand). These vetoes, however, do not annul local legislations which have already established the obligatory use of masks.
On the 8th July, Bolsonaro annulled those clauses of the law, approved by the Senate, which obliged the government to supply drinking water and materials of hygiene and cleanliness, the installation of the internet and the distribution of basic food baskets, seeds and agricultural implements for the indigenous villages. He also vetoed emergency money which was destined for the health of indigenous people, as well as that which would facilitate access to emergency help of 600reais (100 euros or 120 dollars ) for three months, to the indigenous people and the Negros. Both the indigenous and the African Brazilian communities (Quilombolas) have been decimated by the increasing devastation social and ecological ambient especially in the Amazon.
Please circulate to the maximum this crime of prejudice to humanity. It is necessary that the accusations made in Brazil would be available in your country, to digital networks, to the Council of Human Rights of the ONU in Geneva, to the International Court in the Hague, as well as to banks and firms that shelter investigators so much coveted by Bolsonaro´s government.
Long before the Economist wrote on the digital networks, I named the President as BolsonNero-( while Rome burned in flames, he played the lyre) and made propaganda about chlorine as a remedy against the new corona virus, a drug without any scientific efficacy.Moreover, its manufacturers are political allies of the President.
I thank you for your kind interest in spreading this letter. Only pressure from abroad can stop the genocide that is ravaging our beloved and wonderful Brazil.
Frei Betto OP
Friar Betto is Dominican friar and writer, advisor to FAO and Social Movements.
(Thanks to Sr. Aedris for the translation)