As of May 23, Brazil is reporting the second highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the world at 330,890 and a Covid-19 death toll of 21,048, figures that are widely-believed to dramatically undercount both infections and deaths. Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s support has declined significantly as evidence of his crimes mounts, but he shows no signs of retreat, instead aiming to radicalize his supports and polarize the crisis. In response, the Brazilian left and social movements have united to launch a mass campaign to impeach Bolsonaro.
Thursday morning, May 21, twenty-one left-wing parties and social movements submitted a new petition to open impeachment proceedings against President Jair Bolsonaro for attacks on public health and democracy. The petition was delivered by members of congress and leaders of the Party for Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), the Workers Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Popular Unity (UP), the Unified Socialist Workers Party (PSTU), and the Workers’ Cause Party (PCO) and by representatives of social movements, such as Ghilherme Boulos of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) and the Fearless People’s Front (Frente Povo Sem Medo), and youth organizations such as the Afronte collective. On the same day, a joint press conference and symbolic protest was held in front of the National Congress. Sign the people’s impeachment against Bolsonaro!
Removing Bolsonaro is urgently needed to save the lives of thousands of Brazilians. His coronavirus denialism, his speeches attacking social distancing, and his minimization of the pandemic’s threat have all undoubtedly helped push Brazil into second place among global Covid-19 deaths. At the same time, the president attacks democratic institutions and rights, intensifying hate in pursuit of a political regime modeled on the military dictatorship. There is no time to lose. We must expand support for this impeachment petition as part of a broadly united campaign to remove Bolsonaro and to take steps towards united front initiatives among the working class and the youth in order to confront neo-fascism and to build solidarity with the thousands of workers living in the working-class and popular neighborhoods who are suffering the effects of the economic crisis. Translated by No Borders News as part of our international coronavirus coverage.
A people’s impeachment to save lives
Brazil is experiencing two gigantic crises are feeding off one another, that is, coronavirus pandemic itself and the political crisis of an incapable, irresponsible, and heartless ruler who cares nothing for millions of victims. This combination goes to show that Bolsonaro’s far-right government – which supports itself through the application of ultra-neoliberal policies – only reinforces a system that has proven incapable of prioritizing human life. In this sense, overthrowing Bolsonaro and his Vice President Hamilton Mourão forms a critical part of our fight to save lives.
The coronavirus was brought to Brazil by air travel, it spread to the main cities, and now has expanded into the urban peripheries and our rural inland. The virus is proliferating in one of the most unequal societies in the world, with a health system wracked by successive cuts in public investments. The more than 18,000 dead reflect this macabre encounter.
As if that were not enough, while we bury our dead and can only watch our loved ones dying as they wait to be admitted to the hospital, the President of the Republic has made himself into the main enemy of the elementary rules of social distancing, mocking our people’s pain. Simultaneously, he is attempting to organize a coup against democratic freedoms and democratic institutions. His conduct is aggravating the overall situation as he is calling for public gatherings and neglecting the dangers these pose, thereby reducing social distancing in many states in Brazil.
Bolsonaro, therefore, is responsible for the worsening of the epidemic, the flooding of our hospital systems, and an increase in deaths. Furthermore, after proposing famine-level government support of just 200 Brazilian real (approximately $35) for working-class people – later increased to 600 Brazilian real under pressure from the opposition – Bolsonaro’s government is now creating immense difficulties in accessing benefits and already delays the second installment, putting millions for people at risk of infection by making them wait in long lines to get their checks, or forcing them into total misery if they decide not to try to claim their benefits. As if that were not enough, Bolsonaro is participating in public protests calling for the closure of the Supreme Court (STF) and the National Congress. Meanwhile, his supporters have organized a camp at the Esplanada dos Ministérios where people are trained to fight against the left and democratic institutions.
At this point, conduct legally constituting crimes of responsibility (a class of serious crimes under the Brazilian legal system) committed by Jair Bolsonaro are multiple. His recent actions constitute common crimes of administrative law, misrepresentation, malfeasance, posing danger to the life and health of others, infringement of preventive health measures, and corruption, all crimes against the Public Administration which add up to administrative misconduct. This assessment is not only asserted by the opposition, but by recent denunciations by one of his own ministers. For these reasons, Bolsonaro has committed a crime of responsibility, flagrantly violating Law No. 1,079, of 1950, which defines as a crime of responsibility all “acts of the President of the Republic that contravene the Federal Constitution,” when such actions disregard constitutional provisions and violate administrative probity “in a manner incompatible with the dignity, honor, and decorum of office.”
In the face of the pandemic, it has become even more evident that President Jair Bolsonaro’s genocidal and irresponsible posture makes him entirely incapable of governing. The continuation of his term in office is a threat to the lives of thousands of Brazilians. This impeachment demand forms one part of the fight against this government’s policies, ones that will require more forceful post-pandemic responses. Even as we respect social distancing, our responsibility to the Brazilian people and our indignation towards the worst president in history cannot wait.
Bolsonaro must go and that is why we have presented this demand for a PEOPLE’S IMPEACHMENT with the support of hundreds of social movements, organizations, opposition parties, and thousands of representatives of the people’s struggles in the countryside, in the cities, and in the forests. We call on all Brazilians to join in this fight to save lives and to save Brazilian democracy. Bolsonaro out. Fora Bolsonaro.
[For international coronavirus coverage and news and analysis from working-class and socialist points of view, read No Borders News.]