Ex-Foreign Minister: Bolsonaro requested chloroquine diplomacy

Ex-Foreign Minister: Bolsonaro requested chloroquine diplomacy
Ernesto Araújo. Photo: Jefferson Rudy/SF/ACS/CC BY 4.0

During his testimony at the Senate’s Covid hearings committee, former Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo said, on the record, that President Jair Bolsonaro asked him to use diplomatic channels to seek medicines against the coronavirus. Mr. Bolsonaro has been one of the world’s staunchest advocates for the use of chloroquine to treat Covid-19 — despite scientific evidence having debunked claims that the antimalarial drug could be an effective remedy for the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, the former minister denied the existence of an unofficial cabinet that advised Mr. Bolsonaro on health matters. However, at one point, he mentioned Congressman Osmar Terra as one of the people who mentioned the idea of herd immunity as a potential way out of the pandemic. “I originally heard this idea from former minister and Congressman Osmar Terra,” he told senators. “He is a physician and mentioned — I believe he still does — that idea [of herd immunity], but I have no scientific means to validate these claims.”

In April 2020, Mr. Terra — Jair Bolsonaro’s Citizenship Minister at the time — sent an audio message to Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s eldest son, foretelling the end of the pandemic. “The epidemic is not falling, it’s plummeting. The number of new cases is going down at an astonishing pace. Two, three more weeks, and it’s over. […] It’s time to celebrate.”When the message was sent, Brazil had confirmed 1,500 coronavirus deaths.

The total is now approaching 437,000.