Ranking the biggest missteps and blunders of the Jair Bolsonaro administration is a tricky task. After more than two years in office, the president is something approaching a chaotic Russian doll: there’s always another crisis hidden inside of him.
The most high-profile failure of the current administration is its haphazard management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mr. Bolsonaro repeatedly dismissed the disease as a “little flu,” before the virus went on to kill almost half a million Brazilians.
Making matters worse, he and his administration neglected vaccine deals and cast aspersions over the efficacy and safety of immunization. Now, with a vaccination campaign in full swing, Brazil is running low on supplies as the government’s adversarial approach to China has led the Asian giant to withhold the export of key inputs.
Peeling off another layer, and we get to Brazil’s climate emergency under the far-right Bolsonaro government. A firm believer in the economic exploitation of the Amazon’s natural wealth — even supporting logging and mining on protected indigenous lands — Mr. Bolsonaro has engaged in a laissez-faire approach to the environment while deforestation climbs even further.
Next comes corruption. Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on the back of a promise to eradicate bribery, bungs, and embezzlement from the federal government, but he has done precisely the opposite. Since taking office, a series of scandals have surfaced, involving not only the president’s inner political circle, but also his family. Recent corruption allegations involve Mr. Bolsonaro himself, claiming he created a secret budget to buy the support and votes of lawmakers.
Then, underneath it all, there is the economy. Affected by all of the issues above, Brazil’s GDP is struggling and unemployment has hit all-time highs. Falling per capita income and rising inflation have even made food safety a major issue for the average Brazilian.
Where does it end?