Operation India fiasco shows the incompetence of the Bolsonaro government – 01/17/2021 – Mathias Alencastro

Indifferent to the suffering of others, dazzled by the prestige of a role he had never dreamed of playing and ignored by Brasilia’s ambassadors, Chancellor Ernesto Araújo was one of the few serene Brazilians during the pandemic. Until the day when General Pazuello entered his office to try to save the honor of the government.

At first glance, the plan to get the first vaccines in India might make sense. The presidential visit to the country is remembered as one of the few usable programs of Itamaraty in 2020. Jair Bolsonaro had returned impressed by the ethno-nationalist project formulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The alignment of Brasilia and New Delhi in vaccine distribution would give unexpected strength to the Chancellor’s argument over a conservative and religious new world order. His post, increasingly threatened, would certainly be renewed until the end of his mandate.

The Indians had to be warned. Although he said he would “help all mankind” in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Modi has already made it clear that he will look after his citizens first. Your government hopes the brutality of the lockdown and the collapse of the economy will be offset by an epic vaccination campaign with a strong nationalist tone.

Although it is still in the initial testing phase, the locally developed Covaxin vaccine has been approved along with the Oxford vaccine to promote “made in India”. Soon, government policy will become a geopolitical problem: Western powers will need India, responsible for 60% of global vaccine production, to immunize their own populations.

Looking at the facts, it seems incredible that a minimally functioning diplomat believed that India would risk jeopardizing the credibility of the world’s largest vaccination campaign just to help Brazil. Discreet, the Indians tried to lower their expectations and were incredulous, not to say offended, when they saw the circus created around the plane stop in Recife.

Not to mention the moral dimension of the operation. Last week, countries like Nepal and Bangladesh also sent envoys to India to negotiate vaccines in the event of an emergency. Others eagerly await their turn. In the midst of a humanitarian crisis, the Bolsonaro government, which has Coronavac at its disposal, deemed it wise to create diplomatic constraints with the vaccination giant just to score points in its provincial fight against the governor of São Paulo.

The most frustrating part of this whole story is that Brazil, with a cutting edge pharmaceutical industry, a consolidated logistics structure and the presence of foreign laboratories interested in vaccine development, had all the conditions to be India in Latin America. Now, while Modi aims to vaccinate the equivalent of Brazil’s population by May, Bolsonaro continues to struggle to buy syringes. Operation India shows that under the Bolsonaro government it is impossible to separate incompetence from bad faith and cruelty from lack of conscience.

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