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Brazil's Bolsonaro May Be in Real Trouble

Criminal investigation begins related to vaccine purchase, as his approval hits all-time low
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2021 2:53 PM CDT

(Newser) – Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro is one of the most controversial leaders in the world, one who seems to relish a fight with his political enemies. But multiple accounts say what's currently unfolding in Brazil is different—and poses a real threat to his presidency. Coverage:

  • The scandal: Bolsonaro is embroiled in a scandal revolving around his nation's much-criticized pandemic response, reports the Washington Post. Specifically, Brazil eschewed offers from the likes of Pfizer and instead paid 10 times the market price for an unproven Indian vaccine. Now there's allegations of kickbacks related to that deal, and it boils down to a familiar question: "What did the president know, and what did he do about it?" writes Terrence McCoy of the Post.
  • The scandal, II: The "plot twists" of the scandal are "worthy of a TV reality show," per the New York Times. But one key allegation is that Bolsonaro was informed that the deal was shady but did not take action himself or even alert the proper authorities. Much else is unclear, but the nation's attorney general last week opened a criminal inquiry into Bolsonaro's actions.

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  • The stakes: Both of the above news sites say the mess is not only putting Bolsonaro's 2022 reelection in jeopardy but is raising the possibility that he will be ousted from office even before next year's election. His foes are taking steps toward a possible impeachment, though that remains a long shot at this point. Meanwhile, rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is gaining in the polls.
  • In the streets: Anti-Bolsonaro protesters are taking to the streets in growing numbers, and Bloomberg reports that his approval ratings have fallen to 34%, the lowest of his presidency. They've been sinking as the pandemic death toll in Brazil, which now stands above 500,000, has been rising.
  • And another scandal: And if all that isn't trouble enough, the Guardian has details on yet more new allegations, these asserting that Bolsonaro "presided over an embezzlement scheme known as the rachadinha during his almost 30 years as a lawmaker in the lower house of congress, between 1991 and 2018."
(Read more Jair Bolsonaro stories.)

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