Covid CPI – far short of the national tragedy



The approved report stands out for the incongruity between the severity of the crimes investigated, the superficiality of its conclusions and the innocuousness of its practical consequences

The leadership of the CPI of the pandemic ended the work in an atmosphere of undisguised self-congratulation for the feeling of accomplishment. However, there is almost nothing to celebrate. The approved report stands out for its absolute incongruity between the seriousness of the crimes investigated, the superficiality of its conclusions and the innocuousness of its practical consequences.

The CPI proved with abundant documentation what was already evident.[I] The health tragedy was the result of a deliberate policy by those in power. By placing profit above life, the Brazilian State has become powerless to stop the free circulation of the coronavirus among the population. The underestimation of the seriousness of the pandemic, the systematic boycott of social isolation measures, the sabotage of the purchase of vaccines and the widespread dissemination of false medicines left Brazilians at the mercy of a criminal health strategy – herd immunization.

To top it off, the investigations revealed macabre experiences in private hospitals that used human beings as guinea pigs, as well as dark corruption schemes led by the highest levels of the federal government involving politicians, the military, religious leaders and businessmen. The president knew everything. The result is the greatest humanitarian tragedy in national history. With 2,7% of the world's population, Brazil registers 12,2% of all deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic - the tenth country, among 178, with the highest death rate per capita by Covid-19 on the planet.

The CPI report called for the criminal liability of 80 people for the health tragedy and, after much controversy over the role of health policy in the genocide of indigenous peoples, restricted the accusation against the President of the Republic to the crime against humanity. It is not credible, however, that a barbarity of this scale – the death of more than 606 thousand Brazilians in less than two years – could have occurred without the direct and indirect complicity of the set of institutions that make up the Brazilian State and the total approval of the bourgeoisie.[ii]

The individualization of political and criminal responsibilities for the health tragedy is a necessary initiative, but very insufficient to get to the root of its systemic conditions, determined by the historical structures of Brazilian society. The CPI was just on the surface. The decisive participation of the bourgeoisie in the holocaust was hidden. The main questions remained unanswered.

Why did the legislature take more than a year to open an investigation into the health crisis that was affecting the population? Why did senators spare the political base of the Bolsonaro government, exempting the Centrão and the military, evangelical and business parties from any responsibility, which actively and ostensibly militated against a health policy based on the defense of life? Why didn't the CPI investigate the silence of the Public Prosecutor's Office in the face of crimes that stood out? Why was not a line written about the health policies of governors and mayors, which, in essence, even if in a smaller dose, were also fully subordinated to the imperatives of the economy? Why was nothing said about the effect of neoliberal policy on weakening the Unified Health System and compromising the country's health autonomy? Why was the interaction between deaths from Covid-19 and social segregation not investigated in depth, when it has long been known that the syndemic is a decisive factor in defining people's health status:[iii] Why is there no mention of the role of sanitary imperialism in the Brazilian tragedy?

Bad with the CPI, even worse without it. The Senate investigation was essential to contain the government's health crisis, accelerate the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus and raise public awareness of the importance of non-pharmacological measures as a means of protection against Covid-19. It also served to make explicit the reactionary, obscurantist, criminal and corrupt nature of the Bolsonaro government. Documents and testimonials about the genocidal health policy of the Bolsonaro government will forever remain as an irrefutable record of the total and definitive rupture of any moral link between the bourgeoisie and the subordinate classes.

Completely unrelated to the street movement for Bolsonaro’s overthrow, the CPI has become a merely formal action that, at best, has symbolic value. The same political forces that claim that the country is presided over by a murderer refuse to commit themselves body and soul to his deposition. Without political and legal implications that could interrupt the continuity of the military-militia-theological-business clique that commands the national executive, the investigation's conclusions will be reduced to a moral condemnation, without major practical consequences, except for the greater political isolation of Bolsonaro and his inexorable electoral erosion.

Put in historical perspective, the senators' report fulfills the compensatory function of providing some satisfaction to the population for the sanitary debacle and expiating the guilt of the dominant classes for the massacre of the subordinate classes. By turning Bolsonaro into a scapegoat for the ongoing slaughter, the CPI exempts institutions, political agents and the bourgeoisie from any responsibility for the macabre march of the coronavirus in Brazilian society.

With the greatest impudence imaginable, the government received the report with a roar of laughter. Who sows wind, reaps storm. The greatest humanitarian crime in the country's modern history will not go unpunished. The trauma of the sanitary massacre will reverberate over time. No life lost will be forgotten. No one will be forgiven. All responsibilities for actions or omissions – individual, institutional, political and class – will one day be charged.

* Plinio de Arruda Sampaio Jr. He is a retired professor at Unicamp's Institute of Economics and editor of the website Contrapoder. Author, among other books, of Between nation and barbarism – dilemmas of dependent capitalism (Voices).



[I] The full CPI report can be found at

[ii] Due to the estimated underreporting of 15 to 20% of deaths from Covid-19, probably more than 700 lives were lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[iii] e

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