Power

The motivation behind Bolsonaro’s anti-vax messaging

The president has spent much of the pandemic minimizing the severity of Covid-19 and casting aspersions over vaccination, and this seems to have gained him credit among a key constituency: public security workers

armed forces brazil
Military parade during Independence Day celebrations. Photo: Cb Estevam/EB

One of Brazil’s very first Covid-19 patients was military police officer Ari Celso de Barros, part of President Jair Bolsonaro’s personal security detail. He was shadowing the far-right leader on international trips in March 2020 when he fell ill, was taken to the hospital, and nearly lost his life. At the time, Mr. Barros’s mother told the press that Covid-19 was a lot more than the “little flu” the president claimed it was.

Almost two years on, Ari Celso de Barros has been promoted to commander of military police training academies in the Federal District. One of his duties is...

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