The Bolsonaro government’s denialist attitude towards the pandemic and the increasing number of people infected and killed in Brazil has become a global highlight and consolidates the perception abroad of a country adrift, whose president operates in a parallel reality.
The international debate about Brazil is marked by the wonder of why a democratically elected leader would actively encourage pro-government demonstrations while violating and criticizing measures of social distance adopted by countries around the world, despite the ideological orientation of their governments.
Likewise, it is perplexing why he would change his Minister of Health twice for following WHO’s recommendations regarding the pandemic. The most recent wear on the country’s image only confirms a visible trend since Bolsonaro’s election in October 2018, and his recurring international clashes, among them, the poor management of the diplomatic crisis caused by the fires in the Amazon.
These episodes caused an unprecedented erosion of Brazilian soft power, built by a country that has one of the most respected diplomatic corps in the world and already served as a model on topics such as Public Health and had global leadership in the area of the Environment. Bolsonaro’s foreign policy has turned Brazil into an outcast that does not even participate in major international debates, be it about the pandemic, climate change, or how to strengthen the multilateral system.
This is a historic turn for a country that traditionally prided itself on its highly respected and constructive diplomatic role and its absence of enemies.
* COORDINATOR OF THE GRADUATE PROGRAM FOR THE FGV SCHOOL OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Coronavirus: Japanese experiment shows how quickly virus spreads in a restaurant