Rousseff claimed Bolsonaro’s sabotaging of containment and vaccination efforts, refusal to order a lockdown and failure to offer adequate economic support to the poor had contributed to a tragedy of “catastrophic proportions”.
“I’m not saying Brazil wouldn’t have suffered deaths [with a different response] – all countries did,” she said. “I’m saying that part of the level of deaths here is fundamentally down to incorrect political decisions, which are still being taken.”
Brazil’s breakdown was also an international threat. “The absence of an effective fight against the pandemic [in Brazil] leads to something extremely serious: the emergence of the so-called new variants, which are highly infectious and have increased the number of deaths in neighbouring countries,” Rousseff said, pointing to how South American neighbours were closing their borders for fear of the more contagious P1 variant linked to Brazil’s Amazon.
Many critics now argue Bolsonaro’s actions amount to “genocide” – and Rousseff said she was among them.
“I use that word. What characterizes the act of genocide is when you play a deliberate role in the death of a population on a massive scale,” the 73-year-old said from her home in Porto Alegre, one of many cities where hospitals have been overwhelmed and doctors forced to play God.