Record deaths from Covid-19 are ‘worst genocide’ in Brazil’s history, and President Bolsonaro is to blame – ex-leader Lula

The former president of Brazil says his incumbent successor is responsible for the “worst genocide in our history” due to a neglectful response to the epidemic. Brazil this week passed an overall tally of 300,000 Covid-19 deaths.

The scorching critique of President Jair Bolsonaro comes from Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, widely known simply as ‘Lula,’ on the pages of the German weekly Der Spiegel. The popular leftist politician said Bolsonaro has failed to take the pandemic seriously, and this has led to the deaths of over 300,000 people. The grim benchmark was passed by the Latin American nation on Wednesday, while, on the next day, its Ministry of Health recorded more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases in a single day.

“If he had a bit of dignity, he would have apologized to the families of the 300,000 Covid dead and millions of infected people. He is responsible for that,” said Lula. “Brazil can’t stand it any longer if this man continues to govern like this.”

The former president added that what was going on with Covid-19 in Brazil was the “worst genocide” in country’s history. He used the same term about a year ago, when he explained his concerns with the Bolsonaro government’s approach to the epidemic. The death toll stood at 14,000 at the time.

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Brazil has the world’s second-worst outbreak of Covid-19 after the US in terms of absolute numbers of cases and deaths. Critics of the incumbent president accuse him of botching the national response for the sake of his laissez-faire, right-wing ideology. Bolsonaro refused to impose restrictive measures to curb the spread of the virus, like harsh lockdowns and mask mandates, arguing that it would lead to economic damage and violate people’s rights.

At the moment the Brazilian government is being accused of failing to procure enough vaccines against Covid-19 for a speedy inoculation program. Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo is taking much of the blame. As the record-breaking disease statistics arrived this week, Senate President Rodrigo Pacheco blasted Araujo’s performance in office as “far below what’s desired.” Seven senators called for the resignation of the minister, who is a close ally of Bolsonaro.

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Lula was the leader of Brazil between 2003 and 2011, before eventually making the way for his protégé, Dilma Rousseff. After Rousseff was ousted from power in what her supporters describe as a parliamentary coup, Lula was prosecuted and sentenced on corruption charges. A criminal record prevented him from running against Bolsonaro in 2018. The sentences were annulled by a Brazilian Supreme Court judge this month, which potentially allows Lula and Bolsonaro to have a face-off for the presidential office next year.

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