The far-right president has given Covid-19 and the razing of the Amazon free rein. Now it looks like he plans to cling on whatever voters say
The prospect of the rightwing extremist Jair Bolsonaro becoming Brazil’s president was always frightening. This was a man with a history of denigrating women, gay people and minorities, who praised authoritarianism and torture. The nightmare has proved even worse in reality. Not only has he used a dictatorship-era national security law to pursue critics, and overseen a surge in deforestation of the Amazon to a 12-year high, he has allowed coronavirus to rampage unchecked, attacking movement restrictions, masks and vaccines. More than 60,000 Brazilians died in March alone. “Bolsonaro has managed to turn Brazil into a gigantic hellhole,” Colombia’s former president, Ernesto Samper, tweeted recently. The spread of the more contagious P1 variant is imperilling other countries.
With a poll last week showing 59% of voters rejecting him, Mr Bolsonaro appears to be preparing for an unfavourable outcome in next year’s elections. Last week he sacked the defence minister, a retired general and longstanding friend who nevertheless appears to have taken exception to Bolsonaro’s attempts to use the armed forces as a personal political tool. The commanders of the army, navy and air force were also fired – reportedly as they were poised to resign.