When faced with the prospect of a Senate inquiry into his government’s pandemic response, Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro declared that he has “nothing to hide.” However, with the coronavirus hearings committee fully underway, it would appear that the government is working hard to keep things swept under the rug.
This week, former Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello was set to give a deposition to the Covid inquiry. The longest-serving of Mr. Bolsonaro’s top health officials during the pandemic, Mr. Pazuello followed his boss’ directions to the letter and oversaw the most severe spikes of Brazil’s coronavirus crisis.
However, despite “having nothing to hide,” Mr. Pazuello dodged his summons to the Senate, claiming that he had recently met with two individuals who had tested positive for Covid-19. Such precaution for someone who was photographed maskless, walking around an indoor shopping center in the Amazonian city of Manaus, just one week before.
Government sources told The Brazilian Report that the real reason for Mr. Pazuello’s sick note was that the former Health Minister feared being arrested by the inquiry committee. Tasked with exonerating his former boss from any responsibility for Brazil’s coronavirus collapse, Mr. Pazuello’s lack of public speaking skills would put him at a high risk of perjuring or incriminating himself while being grilled by opposition senators.
Depositions from other former Health Ministers have yet to bring any new revelations, but they strengthen the opposition’s case that Jair Bolsonaro put undue pressure on health officials to endorse antimalarial drug chloroquine as the country’s sole pandemic policy. Scientific evidence shows that chloroquine has no proven efficacy treating Covid-19.
Whether the government does have anything to hide, that remains to be seen. But there is no excuse for the deaths of over 410,000 Brazilians.