Following Trump’s Footsteps, Bolsonaro Could Become a One-Term President

By Anna Buss for the LAProgressive on July 18, 2021

Presidential elections in Brazil are 15 months away, but several recent polls show a grim picture for Brazil’s leader as he aspires for a second term in office.

Recent surveys are not looking good for President Jair Bolsonaro. That is because for the first time 54% of Brazilians polled favor his impeachment. His disapproval ratings have also recently risen to 51%, the highest level since he came to power. Meanwhile most Brazilians see him as being “dishonest, false, incompetent, unprepared, indecisive, authoritarian, and unintelligent,” and 70% of them believe there is evidence of corruption on his government.  To make matters worse, a new poll revealed that 59% would not cast a ballot for him under any circumstance, while his archenemy, former President Luis Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva, is predicted to win a runoff race in 2022 with 58% of the vote. 

Drawing straight from Donald Trump’s autocratic playbook, and with mounting low public opinions Bolsonaro has turned to his most ardent followers for adulation and unconditional love. However, instead of stadium-packed events like Trump, Bolsonaro prefers bike rides. Over the weekend, that is precisely what he did. Without wearing a mask—his signature pandemic look—and apparently still unvaccinated, Bolsonaro led a bike ride around the city of Porto Alegre, where he overwhelmingly won in 2018 and where he still finds strong support. In a desperate attempt to shift the spotlight from his sinking popularity he ended the parade with a speech defending a change in the voting system due to “widespread fraud.” “If [Lula] has 60%, according to [the polls], we are going to make the vote printed and auditable to see if he really wins in the opinion of the people,” he proclaimed.

Continue reading HERE.

Bolsonaro’s Government Faces Multiple Corruption Probes Over Vaccines

By Anna Buss for the LAProgressive on July 10, 2021

In early July thousands of Brazilians took the streets to once more demand the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro. They were driven by damning new evidence from the ongoing Senate committee inquiry (CPI) that has been investigating the allegedly fraudulent purchase of several vaccines. Brazilians are dying in droves, with more than 530,000 lives lost to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

The scandal around vaccine purchases is just one of 23 other charges facing Bolsonaro and his administration that the CPI has been probing since April 27. The former Heath Ministry Director of Logistics, Roberto Dias, testified on July 7 in connection with several charges of corruption over two vaccine negotiations: accepting a bribe to close a contract for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, and allegations of influence peddling, overpricing, forged documentation, and pressure to speed up the purchase of Covaxin, a vaccine from the Indian company Bharat Biotech.

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Brazilian Native Peoples Are at Risk of Losing Their Reservations

By Anna Buss for CounterPunch.org on June 25, 2021

Tens of thousands of people took the streets of at least 366 cities in Brazil on June 19. The gatherings expressed support for indigenous peoples who, in addition to being disproportionately affected by COVID-19, are now facing the ramifications of a bill that could drastically change their communities. A revived 2007 proposal, PL 490, also known as the “Demarcation of Indigenous Lands,” would impede indigenous peoples’ right to create new reservations, allow the federal government to take possession of existing ones, and end the policy of no-contact with isolated indigenous peoples. As a result, the last stewards of the forest, including the Amazon, could disappear.

The anti-government protestors also demanded the impeachment of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for his mismanagement of the pandemic, which has already claimed 500,000 lives. They also appealed for more vaccines and an increase in emergency assistance.

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Only Aggressive Environmental Measures Can Prevent Another Imminent Water Crisis in Brazil

By Anna Buss for CounterPunch.org on June 17, 2021

While much of the Western United States is currently experiencing extreme drought-like conditions, Brazil is about to face its own water crisis. In Brazil, though, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest is directly causing diminished rainfall, compromising the country’s power grid system. The majority of the electricity produced and consumed in the country comes from hydroelectric power, about 65% in total. Also, this has interrupted the water supply and upended the nation’s agricultural industry – all of which will clash with an already weakened economy in the coming months. This ever-growing problem, aggravated by the impacts of climate change, can only be mitigated if bold environmental actions are enacted right now.

This year, Brazil recorded its lowest rainfall in the past 91 years, which has left most the country’s water reservoirs depleted. In fact, its largest reservoir subsystem, located in the Midwest and Southeast regions, is only 33% full compared to an average water volume of about 64% at this time of the year. To make matters worse, this subsystem is also responsible for 70% of the electric power generation capability for the area.

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In Brazil, Environmental Crimes Can Be Traced to the Top

By Anna Buss for CounterPunch.org on June 10, 2021

Brazil’s Environment Minister Ricardo Salles is under two criminal investigations that could lead to his removal and a possible prison sentence for obstruction of justice. His case illustrates how corruption and resource exploitation go hand-in-hand in Brazil.

In the past couple of months, the United States has intensified talks with the minister. In fact, Salles attended President Joe Biden’s Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April where he insisted that Brazil would need $10 billion annually in foreign aid to stop deforestation of the Amazon rainforest.

Now, the U.S. may need to reevaluate its relationship and possible aid to the country. That’s because in the past month, Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF) has authorized two unrelated probes into Salles’ alleged involvement with the illegal logging industry.

Continue Reading HERE.