Brazil’s lower house pays tribute to Jair Bolsonaro, Pope Francis

Brasilia, Nov 24 (EFE).- Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies paid tribute here Wednesday to different figures from that South American country and around the world, including President Jair Bolsonaro and Pope Francis.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing former federal deputy for Rio de Janeiro (from 1991 to 2018) and current head of state, and the Argentine-born pontiff were among 30 recipients of the “2021 Medal of Legislative Merit,” either for their “relevant service rendered to the legislative body” or the influence they have had on Brazil.

That latter criteria was applied to Pope Francis.

Bolsonaro received his medal amid shouts of “genocide” from opposition groups, who say he is responsible for a sizable portion of the more than 613,000 pandemic deaths in Brazil (second-most worldwide after the United States).

Supporters of the president, a Covid-19 survivor who notoriously referred to the coronavirus last year as a “measly flu,” has been dismissive of vaccines and frequently appears in public without a face mask, responded back with chants of “mito, mito” (legend).

The 66-year-old head of state, who was accused of crimes against humanity in a Covid probe concluded last month by the Federal Senate, is sometimes referred to by his most hard-core supporters as Bolsomito.

The president also received harsh criticism from lower house lawmaker and second secretary Marilia Arraes of the left wing Workers’ Party (PT), whose expected 2022 presidential candidate, 76-year-old former two-term head of state Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, is widely expected to regain Brazil’s highest office.

“Not always does the one who says he represents the people behave in that way, and often that same people does not behave democratically and rises up against democracy itself, spurred on by populist and authoritarian leaders,” Arraes said in clear reference to Bolsonaro and his supporters.

The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, a member of the center-right Progressistas party, referred to the virulence of the pandemic in Brazil but avoided criticizing the Bolsonaro administration’s management of the crisis.

Brazil is facing “one of its most challenging moments, with a pandemic, deaths, unemployment and inflation” having created a perfect storm, Lira said, adding that Congress is working with resolve and determination to remedy the difficult situation.

In accepting the honor in a brief speech at the lower house, a conciliatory Bolsonaro said it is possible to “conceive of a better country” if the nation’s authorities are “perfectly in tune.”

He left the chamber before the conclusion of the ceremony due to what government sources said were “scheduling problems.” EFE


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