Category: Brazil
Celso Amorim: Lula is Gigantic Force in Brazil, Can Boost BRICS, Facilitate S America’s Integration
worker | April 15, 2021 | 7:49 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed


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Former president Lula will overhaul the present Brazilian politics if he runs and wins, starting with reinvigorating the country’s healthcare system and fighting inequality, reinforcing BRICS, switching to national currencies in trade, and spearheading South America’s re-integration, says former Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim.

In a 2 April interview with the Portuguese television station RTP, former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 75, noted that he would run for the presidency of Brazil in 2022 if “necessary”. The March verdict by Brazil’s Supreme Court invalidating the former president’s conviction has become a big game changer in the country’s politics by opening the door for Lula to potentially run for re-election.

This has sounded alarm bells for President Jair Bolsonaro and his powerful supporters. However, it’s unlikely that the military, who endorsed Bolsonaro in 2018, will try to hinder Lula’s campaign if he runs, says Brazilian diplomat and politician Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim, who twice held the position of foreign affairs minister between 1993 and 1994 under President Itamar Franco and then between 2003 and 2010 under President Lula da Silva. But what if Washington and multinational corporations try to throw a spanner in Lula’s works?

Sputnik: What are Lula’s chances of winning the race?

Celso Amorim: Lula as many others, as many of us, – I say that because I feel personally linked to him, also – we are now concentrated on what can be done to improve the life of the Brazilians because of the pandemic. Brazil has a record number of deaths per day. It’s a country that holds the greatest number in the world. This, of course, is accompanied by recession, unemployment, and a lack of income for the poor. So all these things now have concentrated his attention. Of course, if you ask the question, he’ll say “Well, I may run,” I don’t know exactly what he said to [Portuguese] television, but I have heard him some other time saying: “Well, if there is a request from my party and from the progressive forces, the ones that are more linked to social ideals in Brazil with more independence in foreign policy, if these forces ask, I’ll run.” But as I’ve said, it’s a bit early.

Of course, Lula is a gigantic force in Brazilian politics, so he’ll have a great influence anyhow. And of course, many people, like myself, hope that he’ll run. But, of course, as I say we are a little far away, and we are in the midst of the pandemic, a big health crisis, a big economic crisis, a big potential social crisis, also. So it’s a bit too difficult to make a precise forecast.

Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a meeting organized by unionists and members of the Workers Party (PT) in Sao Paulo downtown Brazil on March 4, 2016
Brazilian former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva attends a meeting organized by unionists and members of the Workers Party (PT) in Sao Paulo downtown Brazil on March 4, 2016

Sputnik: What reaction can Lula expect from Washington, given that the Biden administration is at odds with the Bolsonaro cabinet? Will Washington try to meddle in the Lula campaign?

Celso Amorim: Washington is not such a simple concept. There are different forces in the United States that act in different ways. Certainly, if you had the Trump administration, they would support Bolsonaro. With the Biden administration – we don’t know yet. So far, his policies toward Latin America have not shown much progress. But you know, when Lula was president we had good relations, and that was with President Bush and President Obama. Of course, there may be interests of American companies in Brazil. There may be some other strategic interests. But, it’s no longer what used to happen in the 1960s or the 1970s.

Even the kind of meddling is different: I think if it happens it will happen by means of the Brazilian media, of the Brazilian economic elite. And the Brazilian economic elite, they are now a bit disconcerted because, of course, they supported Bolsonaro and now, at least, a lot of them regret it.

So, I don’t see really why they would try to do anything to block Lula’s campaign, because actually Lula has always been a person who was open to dialogue, even in relations with difficult questions like Venezuela, to speak about a regional aspect here.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, right, listens to his Foreign Minister Celso Amorim during the inauguration of a general consulate of Brazil in Caracas, Thursday, Oct. 29,2009
Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, right, listens to his Foreign Minister Celso Amorim during the inauguration of a general consulate of Brazil in Caracas, Thursday, Oct. 29,2009

Sputnik: Could multinational corporations try to hinder Lula’s campaign, given that he is opposing more privatisation?

Celso Amorim: Certainly, there are, in Brazil, forces who are more linked to let us say this neo-liberalism that want to privatise and they can gain from this process also, in Brazil. And, of course, there may be other international companies that may be interested in Brazil but they don’t have dominance. They may have some support, internationally speaking, that will oppose Lula because they want to have more privatisation, more space to make gains, immediate gains.

On the other hand, even because of the pandemic, because of the high unemployment, because of the policies that have to do with the price of oil, there is a growing sense in Brazil – which goes beyond traditional progressive forces – that we need a presence of the Brazilian state in the economy in order to re-launch the economy. This is happening even in the United States. What Biden is doing now in the United States is something that has not happened since FDR, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, at the time of the [Great] Depression, in the way he is injecting money including by increasing taxes, taxes on the rich, taxes on the corporations.

So, the world is changing a little bit. We can’t think only through the models that we had, even the models that we had until ten years ago, they became already, in a way, overcome, surpassed. So, there’s a new world. I think that the fact that we have BRICS for instance, we have the possibility, Russia has just proposed, I saw my good friend [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, with whom I interacted for many years as foreign minister and before as ambassador to the UN, proposing that Russia could abandon the dollar.

I don’t know if Brazil can abandon the dollar, but we could have our trade among BRICS countries with our currencies. So I think it’s very important to reinforce BRICS.

I think Brazil has to work within the groups like BRICS and, of course, to have normal relations with the United States, as well. It’s not easy because Latin America is seen by many people in the US as their backyard, as somehow was implied in your question. But I think also this is changing: we have progressive governments in Mexico, in Argentina, in Bolivia. So, if Lula is elected… and I think if he runs, he has a big chance of being elected, and almost certain that he would be. If he is elected we’ll be able to work both with the integration of South America and with groups like BRICS, and also with the United States, and also with the European Union.

Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, delivers a press conference at the metalworkers' union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in metropolitan Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 10, 2021
Brazilian former president (2003-2011) Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, delivers a press conference at the metalworkers’ union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, in metropolitan Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 10, 2021

Sputnik: Which domestic issues will Lula address right away if he wins the presidency? What changes in foreign policy might one expect if Lula wins?

Celso Amorim: The immediate issue that he is addressing now [is the pandemic], because Lula is a big figure in Brazil, what he says and does has an influence. Even, for instance, when Lula criticised the minister of health, Bolsonaro sacked his minister of health. He did not criticise the minister, he criticised the policy, and the minister was sacked some days later. Bolsonaro had never used a mask, and when Lula spoke about these things, he started using it, because he knows that Lula has great influence and he wants to preempt him.

Brazil has a fantastic health system, one of the best in the world – it was not properly used by Bolsonaro, by the present government, – but thanks to that, the situation is not even worse. It’s more or less like the National Health [Service] in Britain. Of course, we are a developing country and don’t have the same kind of resources, but it permeates the society.

In terms of foreign policy: well, of course, the world changes, so I can’t say that he will do exactly the same things as he did 10 years ago when he was in power. But certainly, we’ll try to work along two or three lines, I’ve just mentioned it: to have a more multi-polar world, reinforcing groups like BRICS, that’s essential for Brazil and I think it’s essential for the other member groups. We’ll work on integration in South America and we’ll develop multi-polar relations with all the world, with great emphasis in Africa because Africa is very near to Brazil.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Record deaths from Covid-19 are ‘worst genocide’ in Brazil’s history, and President Bolsonaro is to blame – ex-leader Lula
worker | March 28, 2021 | 8:03 pm | Brazil | Comments closed

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

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.

ALSO ON RT.COMNot ‘forced’ but ‘compulsory’? Brazil’s Supreme Court paves way for SANCTIONS for refusing Covid-19 jabBrazil 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.

ALSO ON RT.COMBrazil Supreme Court ruling annuls ex-president Lula’s convictions, making him eligible to run in 2022 electionLula 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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Brazil’s communists warn of ‘the greatest health and hospital crisis in history,’ as death toll passes 300,000
worker | March 25, 2021 | 8:12 pm | Brazil, Communist Party Brazil | Comments closed

Brazil’s communists warn of ‘the greatest health and hospital crisis in history,’ as death toll passes 300,000

THE Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) has warned that the country is undergoing “the greatest health and hospital crisis in history” after the coronavirus death toll passed 300,000.

The National Council of Health Secretaries announced the grim milestone on Wednesday night. Only the United States has had more people die from Covid-19.

PCdoB parliamentary leader Renildo Calheiros called on President Jair Bolsonaro to “wake up” and stop undermining the public health response as hospitals in the capital Brasilia reported lining their floors with corpses because their morgues are full.

With the country’s health system overrun, thousands of critically ill patients are waiting for intensive care beds to become available.

Mr Calheiros said that, though evidence of the danger posed by Covid-19 had mounted for over a year, the president “preferred to deny science, access to vaccines and publicly discourage preventive measures, such as wearing masks and social isolation.

“Unfortunately, he has now demonstrated that it is not a ‘little flu’,” he said, a reference to Mr Bolsonaro’s infamous dismissal of the new virus last year.

With MPs from parties of both left and right saying that they were fielding calls from desperate constituents with dying relatives unable to get into hospital, even allies of the president have called on him to change course.

Lower house Speaker Arthur Lira acknowledged that the public mood was turning to anger on Wednesday. “There is a lot of solidarity, but everything has its limits. Everything,” he said.

Mr Bolsonaro tried to strike an upbeat note on Tuesday in an address to the nation in which he promised that 2021 would be “the year of vaccination.” But in many cities, residents met the address with pot-banging protests to drown out his words.

The Communist Party pointed out that not only has the Bolsonaro administration itself refused to enforce social distancing or a lockdown, this month it tried – and failed – to get the Supreme Court to reverse such measures adopted by individual states.

PCdoB MP Daniel Almeida said he hoped that Tuesday’s address presaged a change of policy. “It seems that despair is knocking on Bolsonaro’s door. The shocking thing is that we need record deaths for many people to pay attention to the irresponsibility of the government. Over 300,000 lives lost? It’s genocide.”

To left-wing forces of Brasil
worker | March 20, 2021 | 7:17 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed



Tel. +7-495-647-6335, e-mail:

To left-wing forces of Brasil


On behalf of the leadership, all members and supporters of our Party I send our congratulations on decision of the Supreme Federal Court of Brasil to drop all corruption charges from Comrade Lula.


In conditions of deep socio-economic crisis the Brazilian public opinion was expressing a growing intolerance against a court arbitrariness, and even an extremely conservative judge community could not withstand such a pressure. Such intolerance was manifested not only in sociological surveys, but also in mass manifestations in defense of Lula, organized primarily by the MST movement. A certain role was also played by the movement of international solidarity, in which we took a modest part, in particular, conducting the vigils near the Brazilian embassy in Moscow.


Such decision of the Supreme Court of Brazil has a great political importance, allowing Lula to take part in the presidential elections. And win them with a great advantage, as evidenced by results of public opinion polls.


If Brazilian left forces will come to power again, the country will continue its rapid development, interrupted by the rule of the far right. At the same time the situation will change also in the international arena. Without the US dictates the country will conduct a more balanced policy and withering BRICS could gain the second breathing.


But this is a matter of the future. Today we must congratulate Brazilian comrades with a real and serious victory.


Long live Socialism!

Long live solidarity between Left forces all over the world!


Sergey Skvortsov,

First (General) Secretary of the CPSU

Brazil’s Lula da Silva Will Be ‘A Major Political Force’ Next Year, Journalist Brian Mier Explains
worker | March 19, 2021 | 6:55 pm | Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed


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Brazil’s Supreme Court has sidestepped addressing evidence of corruption between the judge and chief prosecutor in Lula da Silva’s trial, ultimately invalidating the former president’s conviction on the basis that it was illegally transferred to a state which had no jurisdiction to hear the case, Brian Mier tells Sputnik.

Brian Mier, co-editor of Brasil Wire based in São Paulo, described to Sputnik the significance of the recent Brazilian Supreme Court decision to invalidate the conviction of former President Lula da Silva. Mier detailed the origins of the prosecution against Lula, which lie in the now infamous joint US-Brazilian “anti-corruption” investigation Operação Lava Jato (aka Operation Car Wash). Lava Jato, Mier explains, was revealed to be tainted from the beginning by political bias and improper conduct by both the judge and chief prosecutor in the case, following the leaks of private Telegram messages between the two.

Sputnik: Can you explain what Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato) was and its relevance to the prosecution and conviction of former Brazilian President Lula da Silva?

Brian Mier: Operation Car Wash [Operação Lava Jato] was initiated as a joint international anti-corruption investigation in partnership between a small group of public prosecutors in the provincial [Brazilian] city of Curitiba, the US Department of Justice, SEC [Securities and Exchange Committee], and the Swiss federal police — ostensibly to combat corruption. But in fact, what it did was paralyse some of Brazil’s key industries and attempted to annihilate the careers of some important leftist politicians, including former President Lula [da Silva].

Sputnik: As you’ve just noted, Lava Jato was eventually revealed to be rather skewed in terms of who it focused on and who it did not, with accusations emerging that it was a form of “lawfare”. Can you explain exactly how that panned out in practice?

Brian Mier: Well, everyone suspected this from the beginning in Brazil, all in the progressive community, at least, on the left, everyone suspected it was being used to target [former President] Dilma Rousseff before her illegal impeachment and Lula and other party leaders of the Workers’ Party while sparing basically everyone from the PSDB party [Social Democracy Party], which has historic ties to the US Democratic Party. However, once these leaked Telegram messages – that were hacked by a man named Wagner Delgatti – were released, first on a small scale to The Intercept, but now on a much larger scale to the Supreme Court and, Lula’s defence team, we see that the entire time during the course of the investigation, there were illegal meetings being held every 15 days to plan the operation out with a group of FBI agents.

This supposedly impartial judge [Sergio Moro] was giving instructions to the prosecution on how to damage the public image of targets of the operation and how to selectively give out media leaks. And it also shows them praying that [President Jair] Bolsonaro would win the elections. And we had this quid pro quo where the judge in the operation was immediately rewarded with a justice minister position after Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil.

Sputnik: Can you elaborate a bit further on the US role in the Lava Jato investigation?

Brian Mier: In 1970, [the US] passed a law called the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has been expanded over the years. Initially it was to try and punish US companies for committing corruption abroad. But through its adhesion to this anti-corruption act, that was passed internationally in 1997, any signatory to it opens up their sovereignty for US agents to operate against companies that either are American or that [are] traded on the US stock exchange, or even if they have property in the US or an office, or if they’ve ever paid a bribe in US dollars, they’re open to investigation, in partnership with local authorities, by US authorities. And this FCPA, as it’s called for short, was used as justification, for example, when FBI agents raided FIFA headquarters in Switzerland in 2015 and arrested some of their vice presidents.

So from the beginning, there was an FCPA partnership between the US Department of Justice and SEC, and these Brazilian public prosecutors. Through the operation, in 2015 alone, the US collected more than $3.5 billion in fines from some of the key companies in Brazil’s industry, and also through the operation, they paralysed the five largest construction companies in the country in 2015. Analysis conducted now shows that the result of Lava Jato was that 4.4 million Brazilians lost their jobs and $173 billion of foreign investment didn’t end up arriving in Brazil because of this operation.

So, we really view it now as a kind of economic and political terrorism that was committed against one political party in Brazil, mainly the workers party, but opened the door for this neo-fascist takeover by Jair Bolsonaro and the military generals who were running the country with them, which is handing over all of the results, natural resources at below-market rates to US and European multinationals right now.

Sputnik: What exactly is it that Lula da Silva was convicted of?

Brian Mier: Lula da Silva was convicted of committing indeterminate acts of corruption, because the judge and prosecutors were working together in a process that had no jury, couldn’t find any material evidence that he’d committed any crime. Ostensibly, it was related to receiving free reforms and an upgrade on an apartment in a beachside building in Guarujá, São Paulo, but they had no proof that Lula or his family had ever spent the night there. They had no proof that reforms were ever made there. And most importantly, the deed was never registered in Lula’s or any of his family’s names. So not only had he never really been there, I mean, they visited the building once, they’d never like spent any time there, not only had reforms never taken place, but they had no proof that they own the place. The place was registered in a construction company’s name.

Also, the alleged gift of these reforms and upgrading [the property] allegedly took place after [Lula] left office. So, it was impossible to prove any kind of quid pro quo either. So, in the ruling against Lula, Judge Sergio Moro said, “we don’t have any, we don’t have enough material evidence to specify what the crime was, but I have a strong conviction that Lula has done something wrong”. That was basically the sentence, and it’s been thrown out now because of illegal forum shopping. The apartment, allegedly owned – but not proven in any way – by Lula, is located in São Paulo state. But he was tried, not only for this alleged crime but for two others, in a neighbouring state, in a neighbouring district court, in the City of Curitiba, which had no jurisdiction. It was forum shopped to a jurisdiction that they knew was working in partnership with the US DoJ. What they did to be able to move the case to Curitiba was [to make] a frivolous accusation that this was connected somehow to the Petrobras state petroleum company, which operates nationally.

But we now have Telegram conversations showing them talking about how they knew there was no connection and they were even joking, like, “as long as he’s filled up his tank with gasoline, from a BR petrol station, this is enough to connect it to Petrobras”. They were laughing about it on Telegram. So, the minute the case was transferred into this other district that was working in partnership with the US DoJ, they dropped the Petrobras charge and Lula’s defence filed a motion to dismiss in 2016, for lack of jurisdiction. They have explained this in every press conference since, but the Anglo media kept repeating this lie, that Lula was tied up in a graft scheme with Petrobras, even up to the eve of his political imprisonment in 2018. So, that’s why it was thrown out eventually. The Supreme Court recognised the fact that this court had absolutely zero jurisdiction over any of the cases Lula had been charged with in Lavato Jato. So, what happened is they mounted frivolous charges, forum shopped them to a district that was working together with the US DoJ, and destroyed the chances of a non-fascist government in 2018 by removing the leading candidate from the election based on frivolous charges that have now been thrown out. [Lula] can’t get back those 580 days he spent illegally in prison, and Brazil is going to take a long time to recover from the damage caused by this US-backed operation which put [President Jair] Bolsonaro in power.

Sputnik: So the Supreme Court dismissed the charges and invalidated the conviction on the basis that it was illegally forum shopped, but not based on corruption between the judge and the prosecutors or state malfeasance?

Brian Mier: No, to the contrary. What they did do, though, was they admitted the evidence of the six terabytes of leaked Telegram conversations. They’re allowing the defence team to use that as evidence. But the reason the case was thrown out was for forum shopping. And a lot of people think it was being done to protect [Judge] Sergio Moro and Chief [Lava Jato] Prosecutor Delton Dallagnol from a criminal investigation that was underway in the Supreme Court, connected to Lava Jato. Because we know, once again, from these Telegram conversations that the prosecution considered the [Supreme Court] justice who made this ruling [invalidating Lula’s conviction], Edson Fachin, to be on their team, in their pocket. There’s a Telegram message where Delton Dallagnol was kind of like yelling and going, “woo-hoo Fachin is ours”, from the time that Lula was arrested. So, in a way, it was just like damage control by the Supreme Court, they’re trying to protect themselves. And also, they’re trying to protect themselves from more and more incriminating leaks coming out now from these Telegram conversations. But de facto, it ended up benefiting Lula and Brazilian democracy.

Sputnik: How significant is the court’s decision on Lula’s case and will there be wider ramifications for the country as a whole?

Brian Mier: Definitely wider ramifications. And I’ll give you the first example right now. Once Lula’s political rights were restored, he gave this historic three-hour press conference last Wednesday in which he just ripped into the federal government and the Bolsonaro administration’s criminal mishandling of the COVID-19 [pandemic]. He said, “unlike our president, I believe the Earth is round. I don’t believe [Hydroxychloroquine]… or in any other miracle cures”. And as a result, immediately afterwards, Bolsonaro gave a press conference on Facebook Live, [during] which he put a globe on the table to show that he doesn’t believe the Earth is flat, even though he’s made comments to that effect. And he was wearing a mask for the first time in weeks, and now it looks like his health minister is on the way out. He announced that he wants to resign with his entire team [on 14 March 2021]. We don’t know if Bolsonaro is going to let him resign or not, but, the way it’s playing out, it looks like the health minister is resigning and most analysts believe this is a direct result of Lula’s press conference last Wednesday.

[Lula] is leading in all of the polls for the presidency next year, and he also has the lowest rejection rate of any of the 10 top candidates. This is something that’s not been properly reported in the English-language media. They’re lying about him having this really high rejection rate, which is untrue. And he’s 13 points ahead of Bolsonaro in the polls. And so even if he decides not to run, he is going to be a major political force next year. If he doesn’t run himself, the candidate he supports will probably win the election. If there are free and fair elections, if there’s not some kind of fascist clampdown.

*This article has been edited for clarity and concision.

US Secretly ‘Persuaded’ Bolsonaro to Reject Russian COVID Vaccine, Investigative Journalist Explains
worker | March 18, 2021 | 8:16 pm | Brazil, COVID-19, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela | Comments closed


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The US government has been pressuring countries not to accept healthcare assistance from countries deemed to be “detrimental” to US safety and security, such as Cuba, Venezuela, and Russia, explains investigative journalist John McEvoy, who first broke the story.

John McEvoy is an independent journalist who has published in the International History Review, The Canary, Tribune Magazine, Jacobin, Declassified UK, and Brasil Wire, among other publications. He reported from Venezuela during the coup efforts in 2019, from Colombia during the student protests the same year, and from France in 2020 on the Yellow Vests movement and general strike.

Mr McEvoy’s main research focus is in contemporary British involvement in Latin America – notably British state intervention and natural resource extraction in Colombia since 1989. McEvoy told Sputnik about his latest exclusive with Brasil Wire, which revealed that the US Department of Health had pressured the Brazilian government not to accept Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, designed to protect against COVID-19.

“[T]he logic of denying a country necessary healthcare during a pandemic – simply in order to remove a potential soft victory from an Official Enemy – borders on genocidal”, McEvoy argued.

Sputnik: What exactly is it that you discovered the US Department of Health has been doing in relation to the vaccine Sputnik V, produced in Russia?

John McEvoy: According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ own report, a US health attaché based in Brazil persuaded “Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine”. The reason for this, the report noted, was to counter “malign influences” in the Americas – meaning Russia, as well as Venezuela and Cuba. So, in short, we discovered that in order to deny Russia a soft power victory in the Americas, the US government actively encouraged the Bolsonaro administration, which owes its very power to a US-backed soft coup, not to purchase an independently approved vaccine.


This decision could have resulted in the deaths of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Brazilians. 282,000 Brazilians have died of COVID-19 already, Brazil is currently in its worst phase since the pandemic began, and Bolsonaro’s disastrous COVID-19 policy is largely to blame for this state of affairs.

Sputnik: Are there countries other than Brazil which were also pressured not to accept Sputnik V?

John McEvoy: It’s not clear from this report, but if the US is capable of weighing on Latin America’s largest country, it’s likely that it has at least attempted to pursue similar policies elsewhere. We also know that the US has dispatched health attachés to China, India, Mexico, and South Africa, who are likely charged with similar responsibilities. Of course, however, the health attaché is not the only way the US could achieve this objective of persuading smaller countries to purchase certain vaccines and not others.

Sputnik: Do we know whether these US policies have actually been effective in preventing the use of Sputnik V?

John McEvoy: The Bolsonaro government recently organised the purchase of tens of millions of the Sputnik V vaccine, almost certainly in response to his government’s total mishandling of the pandemic, leading it into crisis zone. But prior to this, Bolsonaro was slow to reach a deal for the purchase of any vaccine except for AstraZeneca’s, leading to total confusion among medical professionals with regards to his COVID-19 policy. Why was he relying on a vaccine that wasn’t even ready for production, while others had come online and were already proven to be effective? Well, it looks like we now have our answer.


On that note, Brasil Wire also recently revealed that in the run-up to the 2018 presidential election, the British government had also been secretly lobbying the Bolsonaro campaign on behalf of AstraZeneca, as well as its mining interests. It’s not clear whether a relationship between Bolsonaro and AstraZeneca was made as early as 2018, before the pandemic, but it’s certainly also worth considering.

Sputnik: The US Department of Health has also apparently targeted health support and solidarity coming from places like Cuba. Can you explain what is known about this?

John McEvoy: The US DHHS report also noted that it had offered, “CDC technical assistance in lieu of Panama accepting an offer of Cuban doctors”. Cuban doctors, as you know, have been on the frontline of confronting the pandemic since it first spread worldwide in early 2020. They’ve been operational in over 40 countries, mostly in places which have weak healthcare systems.

If you recall, at the start of the pandemic, Cuban doctors were also essential to helping British citizens trapped on a ferry which was refused permission to dock in the Bahamas and Barbados, for which the British government publicly thanked Cuba. So while Cuba exports health, the US – as a general rule – exports misery and poverty. This notion is rarely seen so clearly as in the example of the US actively trying to prevent Panama – which now has one of the worst COVID-19 rates in the entire region – from allowing entry to Cuban doctors, which clearly could have remedied its current terrible predicament.

Sputnik: Why should the average person care about these policies?

John McEvoy: I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that the logic of denying a country necessary healthcare during a pandemic – simply in order to remove a potential soft victory from an Official Enemy – borders on genocidal. Of course, we’ve seen the US engage in these types of activities for years – placing crushing sanctions on countries like Venezuela and Syria, which the UN special rapporteur found were massively impacting the civilian population. In a general sense, these types of erosions of sovereignty need to be public knowledge – Bolsonaro came to power through a US-backed soft coup, and now the US seems partially responsible for the deaths of thousands of Brazilians.

The average person should also care because when we see the US accusing Russia of spreading disinformation about vaccines or meddling in elections, there’s a significant element of projection to this – the US is basically always guilty of doing exactly what it says Russia or whoever else is doing.

Covid-19: Brazil surge reaches new level as daily deaths pass 2,000
worker | March 12, 2021 | 8:05 pm | Brazil, COVID-19, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Comments closed

Covid-19: Brazil surge reaches new level as daily deaths pass 2,000

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Brazil has exceeded 2,000 Covid-related deaths in a single day for the first time, as infection rates soar.

The country has the second highest death toll in the world, behind the US. Experts warn the transmission rate is made worse by more contagious variants.

On Wednesday, former leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hit out at President Jair Bolsonaro’s “stupid” decisions.

Mr Bolsonaro has downplayed the threat from the virus. Earlier this week he told people to “stop whining”.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 79,876 new cases, the third highest number in a single day. The total number of Covid-related deaths reached 270,656, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US.

Chart showing daily confirmed coronavirus deaths in Brazil
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Chart showing cumulative coronavirus deaths in Brazil
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It means Brazil has a rate of 128 deaths per 100,000 population – 11th highest amongst 20 of the worst affected countries in the world. The highest rates are in the Czech Republic with 208 deaths per 100,000 people and the UK with 188 deaths per 100,000 people, Johns Hopkin’s figures suggest.

What’s the situation in Brazil’s hospitals?

Margareth Dalcolmo, a doctor and researcher at Fiocruz described the situation as “the worst moment of the pandemic in Brazil”.

Across Brazil, intensive care units (ICU) are at more than 80% capacity, according to Fiocruz. And in 15 state capitals, ICUs are at more than 90% capacity, including in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Reports say the capital Brasilia has now reached full ICU capacity, while two cities – Porto Alegre and Campo Grande – have exceeded capacity.

In its report, Fiocruz warned that the figures point to the “overload and even collapse of health systems”.

Brazilian epidemiologist Dr Pedro Hallal told the BBC World Service’s Outside Source programme: “If we do not start vaccinating the population here very soon, it will become a massive tragedy.”

Dr Hallal, who works in Rio Grande do Sul, also said that people felt “abandoned by the federal government”.

“It took a long time for the politicians to act,” 40-year-old Adilson Menezes told AFP news agency outside a hospital in São Paulo. “We are paying for it, the poor people,” Mr Menezes said referring to the state of near collapse of Brazil’s public healthcare system.

Analysis box by Katy Watson, South America correspondent

Brazil is facing its biggest crisis since the pandemic began – but still, it feels like people are trying to ignore it.

Take São Paulo for example; while non-essential shops have had to close these past few weeks, there’s no “lockdown” to speak of – no restrictions on whom people meet and schools have remained largely open (albeit with lower capacity).

People here are making their own decisions about how to stay safe, and there certainly isn’t that fear like we saw this time a year ago, where the whole world was shutting down, so Brazilians did the same.

A year on, and even amid dire statistics that are set to carry on rising, Jair Bolsonaro’s narrative has been bought by many – a mistrust of the Chinese CoronaVac vaccine, a railing against closing restaurants and businesses – all the while, scientists are increasingly calling for more national leadership to stop the entire health system from collapsing in the coming weeks.


What’s behind the surge?

A surge in cases in recent days has been attributed to the spread of a highly contagious variant of the virus – named P1 – which is thought to have originated in the Amazon city of Manaus.

Preliminary data suggests the P1 variant could be up to twice as transmittable as the original version of the virus.

It also suggests that the new variant could evade immunity built up by having had the original version of Covid. The chance of reinfection is put at between 25% and 60%.

Analysis box by Smitha Mundasad

Scientists are concerned that Brazil has almost become a “natural laboratory” – where people can see what happens when coronavirus goes relatively unchecked.

Some warn the country is now a breeding ground for new variants of the virus, unhindered by effective social distancing and fuelled by vaccine shortages.

That’s because the longer a virus circulates in a country, the more chances it has to mutate – in this case giving rise to P1.

Global experts are calling for a plan – including rapid vaccination, lockdowns, and strict social distancing measures – to get the situation under control.

The worry is that the P1 variant is a looming threat over the progress made in the region and the wider world.

Current vaccines are, on the whole, still effective against the variant but may be less so than against the earlier versions of the virus they were designed to fight.

Studies are ongoing but experts will get their most robust understanding of how well these vaccines work against P1 as they continue to monitor people who have been vaccinated in the real world.

Scientists are confident that, if necessary, vaccines can be tweaked fairly quickly to work against new variants.


Last week, the Fiocruz Institute said P1 was just one of several “variants of concern” that have become dominant in six of eight states studied by the Rio-based organisation.

The director of the Pan American Health Organization, Carissa Etienne, said the the situation in Brazil “provides a sober reminder of the threat of resurgence: areas hit hard by the virus in the past are still vulnerable to infection today”.

How has the government reacted?

President Jair Bolsonaro has belittled the risks posed by the virus from the start of the pandemic. He has also opposed quarantine measures taken at a regional level, arguing that the damage to the economy would be worse than the effects of the virus itself.

President Jair Bolsonaro speaks at the Alvorada Palace, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brasilia, Brazil, March 10, 2021.IMAGE COPYRIGHTREUTERS
President Bolsonaro dismissed the criticism levelled against him

His stance has come in for severe criticism both internationally and in Brazil itself.

Mr Bolsonaro’s former ally turned political rival, João Doria, has called the the president “a crazy guy”.

On Wednesday, former President Lula, in his first speech since corruption convictions against him were annulled, told people not to follow “stupid” decisions by Mr Bolsonaro and to “get vaccinated”. Lula said “a lot of deaths could have been avoided”.

Responding to Lula’s scathing remarks, Mr Bolsonaro said his government had done enough to fight the disease.