In order to hide their own failures, these dictators – Bolsonaro, Modi, and Trump – are accusing others of spreading fake news about their ignorance and neglect. The fact, however, is that they themselves are the wholesale distributors of fake news.
By Rakesh Raman
A slew of global celebrities have warned that the coronavirus (Covid-19) infection will cause genocide in Brazil if despotic President Jair Bolsonaro kept ignoring the havoc that the virus is wreaking in the South American country.
In an open letter on Sunday (May 3), a number of celebrities have told Bolsonaro that if he did not take preventive action, coronavirus will lead to genocide of the indigenous communities during mining. The letter was signed among others by leading Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, U.S. TV host Oprah Winfrey, and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
The letter claims that indigenous communities in the Amazon are at risk of being “completely eliminated” by miners who have increased their operations during the health crisis and operating in areas in which they should not be allowed to work.
Assuming that the data being shared by the Brazilian government is correct, as of May 5, Brazil had recorded 108,620 coronavirus cases and 7,367 deaths. But Bolsonaro is not perturbed. When a journalist reminded him of deaths in Brazil, Bolsonaro stubbornly retorted, “So what?”
Bolsonaro has been ignoring the devastation being caused by coronavirus while dead bodies pile up in the city of Manaus, northern Brazil. According to reports, the local health system has collapsed and gravediggers are burying the dead in mass graves known as “trenches.” Reuters said in its report: “Soon, the city may run out of coffins.”
BOLSONARO’S ADMIRATION FOR DICTATORSHIP
A former army officer Bolsonaro – who openly admires dictatorships – never took the virus threats seriously and allowed thousands of people to die in his country, while his supporters protested on roads against the social-distancing and quarantine rules which were never enforced lawfully.
Bolsonaro’s political opponents fear that in order to usurp complete power Bolsonaro might declare military takeover, as he has hinted in his rallies where he denounces democratic form of government.
With his authoritarianism during the Covid crisis, Bolsonaro has also antagonized world leaders because the unchecked coronavirus contagion in Brazil will affect other parts of the world where Brazilians will travel in future.
Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is facing a political backlash, as his Justice Minister Sergio Moro quit under protest when Bolsonaro decided to replace the federal police chief with a handpicked associate in order to derail serious investigations.
Although Brazil’s Supreme Court had blocked Bolsonaro’s selection, he and his supporters threatened the court to hold anti-democracy protests so Bolsonaro could enjoy full authority like a dictator amid talks of his impeachment for ignoring the Covid infection that resulted in thousands of deaths.
Earlier on Saturday (May 2), Moro – who is popular for his anti-corruption work in Brazil – testified to prosecutors and police that Bolsonaro has been trying to interfere in investigations.
In his testimony for an investigation authorized by the Supreme Court, Moro claimed that Bolsonaro – with the help of three army generals in his cabinet – is misusing his powers to influence the federal police.
Subsequently, on Monday (May 4), Brazil’s top prosecutor approached the Supreme Court for seeking authorization to interrogate the three military cabinet ministers to know if Bolsonaro tried to influence the police.
If the Supreme Court and the anti-corruption bodies in Brazil succeeded in maintaining the democracy in the country, soon Bolsonaro could be impeached and removed from office with the possibility of a jail sentence.
Earlier, the President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) was sentenced to 12 years in prison and jailed in April 2018 on charges of money laundering and passive corruption. He is the first President of Brazil who was arrested for corruption.
COVID CRIMES OF DICTATORS
But Brazil is not the only country where the autocrats have caused more mayhem than the coronavirus itself. In India, for example, the authoritarian ruler Narendra Modi is concealing the actual coronavirus data while independent research reports suggest that India will have around 1.3 million coronavirus cases by May 2020 and the infection will eventually reach 20% of the population or nearly 300 million (30 crore) people. Now, India has become the epicenter of coronavirus infection which will spread from here to other parts of the world.
Instead of using the auditable government accounts to collect donations to combat coronavirus, Modi is collecting huge funds under a dubious personal account called “Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund).” As the Modi government is highly corrupt, there is a possibility of misappropriation of public money.
Moreover, under the cover of coronavirus lockdowns, Modi and his government are committing large-scale atrocities on people who demand their rights in India. According to a recent report by Amnesty International India, the Government of India’s ongoing crackdown on dissent and free speech is leading to the arrest of journalists, activists, lawyers, and students under repressive laws and being sent to overcrowded prisons which are potential Covid-19 hotspots. This crackdown during the pandemic puts their lives at immediate risk, Amnesty says.
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Similarly, dictator Trump has been downplaying the threat from coronavirus and did not take any steps to save thousands of lives in the U.S. In fact, Donald Trump is so cruel that he even asked the American citizens to consume poisonous disinfectants if they want to get themselves cured from coronavirus disease.
When people were already dying from this virus in the U.S., Trump brought the virus to India when he came here to attend a wasteful “Namaste Trump” event on February 24.
Since Modi – who is an illiterate demagogue – had arranged thousands of hirelings for the event to falsely impress Trump, Modi is also equally responsible for death and destruction.
During his excursion, Trump visited Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Agra (Uttar Pradesh), and New Delhi. Now, all these Indian cities have become coronavirus hotspots. As Trump has committed crimes against humanity, he must be impeached.
In order to hide their own failures, these dictators – Bolsonaro, Modi, and Trump – are accusing others of spreading fake news about their ignorance and neglect. The fact, however, is that they themselves are the wholesale distributors of fake news. They frequently use lapdog media anchors and armies of hired trolls to spread fake news in order to gain political advantage deceptively.
Now, thousands – or may be hundreds of thousands – of people are dying because of the negligence of all these dictators. But there is hardly any judicial system in the world that can prosecute and imprison them.
By Rakesh Raman, who is a national award-winning journalist and social activist. He is the founder of a humanitarian organization RMN Foundation which is working in diverse areas to help the disadvantaged and distressed people in the society. He also creates and publishes a number of digital publications and research reports on different subjects. These publications include the “Covid Health Bulletin” that covers global coronavirus news and views.
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