President Bolsonaro of Brazil can wet his chest. The parliamentary committee of inquiry which is examining its coronation policy has now really begun. In a seven-hour interview, former Health Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta opened the attack on the President yesterday.
“ He disgraced all scientific advice,” Mandetta complained. “The President‘s attitude had negative consequences,” he added.
The former minister’s questioning is a foretaste of what Bolsonaro can expect in the coming months. The committee has the power to call protagonists and to make internal documents public. Seven of the eleven senators on the Committee of Inquiry are pronounced critics of the President.
The themes being examined are uncomfortable for the president. For example, the committee wants to know why things went so horribly wrong in the Amazon City of Manaus earlier this year. That‘s where the care collapsed. Patients could not be ventilated because there was an oxygen deficiency. The federal government had been warned, but it occurred far too late.
The committee also wonders why there are not enough vaccines in Brazil. Last August, Pfizer offered 70 million doses of vaccine for sale, but Bolsonaro did not accept that offer.
Another important topic is the controversial drugs that Bolsonaro – a military man without any medical experience – recommends to this day for covid patients. When the president himself was tested positive last year, he posted a video on Facebook taking the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. “I trust it, and you?” , he asks the viewer.
His government spent large sums of taxpayers’ money on the promotion, production and distribution of that drug. And that while there‘s no evidence that it works against covid.
Brazil was severely affected by the pandemic: up to now more than 411,000 coronadodes have been registered. Only in the U.S., the virus demanded more lives. Although there is a slight decrease in the number of deaths in many places, tens of thousands of Brazilians are still in hospitals.
As in this emergency hospital in Santo André, near São Paulo. For patients and their relatives it is clear where it went wrong:
So, in the emergency hospital, restorative coronapatics are pleased that there is a parliamentary survey. “That’s very important,” says Ricardo, a 31-year-old funeral director who has been seriously ill in recent days. “If the government had acted properly from the outset, there would have been fewer deaths. Then many families would have been spared all that suffering”.
Neither does Denise, 36 years old and educator, have a good word for the President‘s actions. “He called it a flu,” she prays from her hospital bed. “For me, there is no doubt as to who is responsible for the chaos in Brazil: Bolsonaro,” she says.
The Committee of Inquiry is expected to produce negative headlines for months to come, a problem for Bolsonaro, who hopes to be re-elected in next year’s presidential elections.
This week, in addition to Mandetta, the other three health ministers who had Bolsonaro worn out during the pandemic were to be questioned. But the most important of them, general in active service Eduardo Pazuello, announced that he could not come to the Senate in Brasilia. He was supposed to be in quarantine for contact with infected subordinates.
During Pazuello‘s term as Minister of Health, the number of infections and deaths rose. He finally had to clear the field under great pressure from Bolsonaro’s allies in Congress.
Resistance to parliamentary inquiry
The President has always opposed a parliamentary inquiry. This instrument could have serious consequences in Brazilian politics. In 1992, for example, a survey led to the departure of the then President, Fernando Collor.
Nevertheless, an imposition procedure against Bolsonaro is now very unlikely. The President can still count on the support of some 25% to 30% of voters. In Congress, too, his position is strong enough for the time being to stop impeachment.