The Brazilian scene – XI

Image: Lara Mantoanelli


Comments on recent events.

The highlight of the week will undoubtedly be the installation and operation of the COVID-19 CPI. It was installed on Tuesday, the 27th, with Senator Omar Aziz as president, Randolfe Rodrigues as deputy, and Renan Calheiros as rapporteur, despite government opposition and despite the injunction, which fell, vetoing his conduct to the rapporteurship.

Not much is expected from this Commission, other than the mass publication of information that denounces bad behavior by the Federal Executive in handling the pandemic, especially promises of unfulfilled purchases of vaccines. Also on the agenda will be the actions of state governments against the Union, in favor of vaccines; and the subsequent persecution by the Attorney General of the Republic against seventeen state governments, alleging misuse of funds and problems in the administration of vaccination.

The commission has at least 90 days to function, and it can exist for up to a year, that is, until the eve of the 2022 election. and containment of the pandemic. It is interesting to note that the government, through the Civil House, has already raised twenty-three issues - as if it were a shadow cabinet, a government in the shadows against itself – in the preparation of its cadres for the interrogations of the CPI, especially the ex-minister Eduardo Pazuello and the ex-secretary of the Army responsible for the purchase and mass manufacture of chloroquine.

Not much is expected from an investigation process that could, theoretically, even result in the impeachment of President Jair M. Bolsonaro, as the circumstances do not seem favorable to this. I believe that the great merit of this CPI will be the publication of the acts of the Federal government.

It should also be noted that Judge Marco Aurélio de Mello, of the STF, has just sent to the plenary a request from PSol and other leftist parties requesting the installation of an independent Commission of scientists, members of the Judiciary and of parliament, in addition to the executive, to guide the handling of the pandemic. This is yet another ingredient in the fight against the way the spread of the pandemic across Brazil has been treated.

24 hours after the statement by the president of Brazil at the Climate Summit led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (president and vice president of the USA), Jair Bolsonaro, by sanctioning the 2021 federal budget, cut more than 200 million from the Chico Mendes Institute and Ibama, bodies responsible for overseeing environmental policy, especially in the Amazon region, the Cerrado and the Pantanal.

In addition, an internal ordinance of the Ministry of the Environment means that fines for non-compliance with environmental legislation are no longer issued directly by Ibama inspectors. From now on they will have to be forwarded to a superior who will approve or not the effectiveness of the fine. This means that there will be absolute control over who should and who should not explore and deforest the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Pantanal. One more step by the Brazilian government towards the demoralization of Brazil in the global context of environmental policies needed to zero carbon in the coming decades. A vexation.

The failure by the IBGE to carry out the economic and demographic census this year is an active non-policy, which aims, under the pretext of not having resources available in the budget, to restrict the capture of information necessary for the formulation of public policies in Brazil. A profoundly negative discretionary act that affects all instances that make decisions about public policies in the country.

On the Senate's agenda is a Bill, scheduled for a vote this week, on the breach of patents on pharmaceutical products used in the treatment of COVID-19. The big laboratories are against it, the Brazilian Executive is against it, and some opposition forces are in favor of breaking patents.

The laboratories claim (and threaten) that if there is a bankruptcy, Brazil will not be able to buy medicines due to a probable boycott by the large international pharmaceutical groups. Well, that's debatable. Current Burma has broken patents and provides medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 to several countries around the world. Domestically, during Fernando Henrique Cardoso's government, the then Minister of Health, José Serra, broke the patents on medicines needed to protect the population from HIV.

Minister Paulo Guedes dismissed the Secretary of Finance (in previous governments the position had the status of a ministry), while the leader of Centrão and president of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, puts the Tax Reform on the agenda.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).

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