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Brazil: setbacks, death and precariousness

In 2020 Brazil regressed. And the policy of death and precarization was exposed. Almost 200,000 lives were lost to Covid-19, the chief executive refused to take responsibility and the government chose inaction. In fact, in March, the president’s attempt to prevent state governors from acting to contain the pandemic was taken to the Brazilian constitutional court. In addition, the president uses his position to defend medications that are not scientifically proven and spreads mistrust about health recommendations such as the use of masks. 

In November, when we reached 180,000 deaths, Bolsonaro asked us to stop being a “country of ladybugs. About the vaccine, the nation’s top political figure said, “If you become an alligator, the problem is yours. Beyond the intolerable joke, there were actions in a very clear direction: in August he vetoed a bill that provided benefits and compensation to health professionals and their families. And on the other hand, resources were wasted. By early December, the Ministry of Health, led by a military man, had stopped distributing 6.86 million Covid-19 tests and stopped using 27% of the budget to fight the pandemic.

Violation of the constitutional right to life

This express refusal of the President to take responsibility violates the constitutional right to life. His counterpoint was the emergency aid promoted by Congress, which in July reached more than 65 million Brazilians. It is possible that this is the reason why support for the government has remained stable, at just over 1/3 of the population. 

Beyond the suffering caused by the Covid-19, the policy of dismantling Science and Technology in the country continues, which brings us to the lowest budget since the 90s. The unemployment rate is 14.4% and reaches 17% among women. The participation of women in the labor market is 46%, the lowest in thirty years. There is no concern about policies for the safe return of children to school, nor about helping families with young children return to work. 

However, the government continues to work towards deregulation of environmental protection and to push through laws to facilitate access to firearms. It also supports the violent actions of the police, which systematically lead to the murder of young people and even black children, at the extremes of the brutality of racism which the government itself refuses to acknowledge. And health policies such as those that combat and treat those contaminated by HIV/AIDS are being dismantled.

Foreign Policy

In foreign policy, the refusal to assume positions of regional and international leadership has been accompanied by a submissive position toward the United States. And in different international forums Brazil has left its mark by acting alongside countries that seek to limit women’s rights. 

Among the economic elites, as well as in the Brazilian media, it has been customary to pay tribute to the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, as if it were a kind of rational implant in a government of irresponsible and disoriented people. However, it is his rationality that transfers to the population the sacrifices of the austerity program, makes work more precarious and reduces the State’s capacity for action. The Brazilian economy is growing well below the global rate and inequalities are widening.

There are no signs that in 2021 there will be a change of course. Internally, the policy of death and precariousness constitutes the national tragedy. Externally, the relevance assumed by the country has given way to an action that oscillates between irrelevance and anti-liberalism. In 1992, the song “Americanos” by Caetano Veloso said that we danced with an inexplicable grace, “between similarity and misfortune, between the monstrous and the sublime”. In Brazil in 2020, it became difficult to find grace, and the monster expanded its capacity for destruction.

Photo by Federal Senate on / CC BY

*Translation from Spanish by Ricardo Aceves


Cientista política. Profesora del Inst. de Ciencia Política de la Universidad de Brasilia (UnB). Fue presidente de la Asociación Brasileña de C. Política (ABCP). Especializada en teoría política feminista y autora de varios libros sobre democracia, género y medios de comunicación.


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