Brazil: COVID-19, Illiberal Politics, and the Rule of Law

The negationist approach that the Brazilian government adopted to COVID-19 makes the country an interesting case study of the consequences of politicized and populist responses to coronavirus, which we will summarize in this paper. Bolsonaro’s underreach politics were based on a permanent strategy to expose the population to the virus in the hope of herd immunity, even after consensus had emerged on the inefficacy of such approach. We reconstruct, in this chapter, the central aspects of this response. First of all, by reconstructing the value of the rule of law, to show that the Brazilian policies on Covid-19 fail to satisfy its demands. As a second step, we present an account of the ethical commitments that motivate Bolsonaro’s political project. Thirdly, there is a panorama of the government’s attitude toward the pandemic and a description of the political institutions’ resistance to Bolsonarism. Finally, the paper presents a concrete analysis of the Bolsonarist political machinery.