Senator Major Olímpio, 58, has died after spending 13 days in intensive care due to a severe case of Covid-19. A former military police officer, he was a rising conservative force in Brazilian politics and was, until last year, one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s most notable supporters.
With 9 million votes to represent São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, he was the best-voted senator in the 2018 election.
Despite sharing many of the president’s values — such as being a staunch advocate for Brazilians’ right to bear arms — he cut ties with the government after a spat with Mr. Bolsonaro and his politician sons. “I have not distanced myself from my proposals, the president did. When he gets back in line, I’ll support him again. I feel disgusted with how things are being done, but I help in whatever way I can. However, no one will make me indulge crazy people,” he told The Brazilian Report in May 2020.
Major Olímpio is the third Brazilian senator to die of Covid-19, after Arolde de Oliveira and José Maranhão.
The senator’s Covid-19 diagnosis was confirmed on March 2, along with colleagues Alessandro Vieira and Lasier Martins. Three days later, he went into intensive care. Before contracting the coronavirus, he took part in a demonstration against restrictive measures in the city of Bauru, in São Paulo state.
By the turn of the year, at least one in five Brazilian federal lawmakers had tested positive for the coronavirus.
In respect for Major Olímpio’s passing, President Jair Bolsonaro canceled a ceremony scheduled in Congress today, to present two provisional decrees paving the way for a new coronavirus emergency salary program.The vacant seat left by the Major Olímpio will be filled by Alexandre Giordano, a controversial businessman who was involved in a scandal that nearly brought down the Paraguayan government in 2019.Support this coverage →