One Big Thing: Will Brazil’s Challenges of Confronting COVID-19 and its Controversial President Weaken its Democracy?
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What is it?
- Brazil ranks second behind the United States in COVID-19 cases and could possibly overtake the U.S. by July.
- For the past couple weeks, thousands of Brazilian demonstrators have protested the government’s lack of response to COVID-19 as infection rates and deaths have taken a significant spike. Nationalist President Jair Bolsonaro controversially decided against imposing any lockdowns in order to preserve the economy – effectively sacrificing the country’s elderly and poorer residents who have little to no access to healthcare.
- Since the U.S. protests following the death of George Floyd, similar protests have erupted in Brazil calling for an end to police brutality and for greater racial equality. By the police’s own count, they have killed 606 people since the beginning of 2020.
Why is it important?
- Brazil is the world’s seventh most populous country and fifth largest democracy. The rise of nationalist policies and spike in COVID-19 cases has implications on the entire region.
- Police brutality in Brazil is a systemic problem and if the current rate of police killings remains unchanged, there will be 36,000 deaths this year – 36 times the amount in the United States. Most recently, Brazil omitted any language about police brutality to its annual human rights report, indicating Bolsonaro’s attempt to hide his administration’s misdeeds from its own people and the international community.
- Brazil’s population is 211 million and more than half of Brazilians identify as themselves as black, yet blacks make 44 percent less than whites.
What can you do?
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