Ms. Barbara is a contributing Opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.
“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — “I’m an army captain,” Jair Bolsonaro said in 2017. “My specialty is killing.”
He has been true to his word. In just over three years in office, Mr. Bolsonaro has overseen an administration notable for its disregard for human life. There are, most immediately, the country’s 660,000 deaths from Covid-19 — the second most in the world, after the United States. Throughout the pandemic, he obstructed social distancing, sabotaged mask wearing and undermined vaccination. He maintains that he “didn’t make a single mistake during the pandemic.” So we have to assume it all went to plan.
Then there are the guns. A series of presidential decrees loosening gun controls have opened the floodgates. Last year the federal police issued 204,300 new gun licenses, a 300 percent increase from 2018. Permits granted by the army to hunters and collectors rose 340 percent. The country, which recorded the most homicides in the world in 2021, is awash with firearms.
And then there’s the planet. Deforestation in the Amazon has reached its highest rate in 15 years, thanks in no small part to the president’s eager dismantling and defunding of environmental enforcement agencies. Not content with his efforts so far, Mr. Bolsonaro is now attempting to push through five bills that will strip away Indigenous rights, open up the Amazon to rampant profiteering and bring untold damage to the planet.”