Toxic leaders exacerbated effects of pandemic, NGO says – 04/07/2021 – Worldwide

With 13% of the world’s population, the Americas and the Caribbean concentrate nearly half (48%) of those killed by Covid-19 on the planet – led by the United States, Brazil and Mexico, which occupy the first place in the world slaughter ranking. through disease – and face increasing poverty and extreme poverty, human rights violations and the murder of its defenders.

Part of this result, according to Amnesty International’s annual report, was exacerbated by regional political leaders who failed to protect professionals in essential sectors and confused their populations about the protective measures recommended by the community. international scientist. They have also restricted civic space in their territories, seeking to silence critics and opponents, evading their responsibilities and attacking multilateral organizations.

The international human rights NGO in its report points to the presidents in office in 2020 in the United States (Donald Trump), Brazil (Jair Bolsonaro), Venezuela (Nicolás Maduro) and Venezuela (Nicolás Maduro) as examples of toxic leadership in the region. in Nicaragua (Daniel Ortega).

Under the command of leaders like them, violations of the rights to life, health and social protection, gender-based violence and threats to sexual and reproductive rights and the repression of differences have intensified.

Brazil has pride of place on this macabre podium: it is the current epicenter of the pandemic. Under the denial and anti-human rights leadership of President Jair Bolsonaro, the country now records around one in three deaths from Covid-19 worldwide.

“We are under a mountain of bodies,” says Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil. “Brazil has become a threat to Brazilians and Brazilians as well as to the world. If there is one thing we can export, it is tragedy, ”she criticizes.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have insisted that preventable deaths are due to blame. In 2020, however, we saw Brazil and the region of the Americas beset by inequality, discrimination, repression, and escalating human rights violations. And historically marginalized populations have paid the most: blacks, natives, LGBTQIAs, informal workers, prisoners, and medical professionals. “

For Jurema, the situation is not only worse in Brazil because there has been a social mobilization around emergency aid, obtained last year from Congress after strong pressure from social movements. This is, according to her, an important message of the pandemic: “the struggles have produced results”.

“The Black Lives Matter movement in the USA after the assassination of George Floyd mobilized the whole world against institutional racism of the police,” he said, recalling that in Brazil, the deaths caused by the police forces were intensified during the pandemic, especially victimizing blacks.

According to her, a mobilization will also be necessary on the vaccination front, to “call the world pharmaceutical companies to the responsibility of guaranteeing the vaccine and not their immeasurable profit”.

“In a health crisis, what must be weighed in the balance is the protection of life. Companies lack transparency, due to their patent rights, and have been engaged in negotiations that do not translate into the best interests of citizens. We cannot naturalize this auction, except those that may be sponsored by these companies, ”Jurema says.

Amnesty International’s report stresses that the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is an urgent and fundamental test for international cooperation, including the waiver of the WTO agreement on trade-related intellectual property, that would allow the sharing of innovations. licenses.

The same Brazil that was at the forefront of this type of strategy in the face of the HIV / AIDS epidemic, when, from 2001, it broke patents on drugs that began to be produced in the country, it s today opposes the relaxation of patents against vaccines against Covid-19.

“Brazil has already done what it has refused to do now, and has not put its industrial complex for health at the service of the people, producing vaccines for Brazilians and for the world,” says the executive director Amnesty International Brazil.

The NGO report also points out that the pandemic has highlighted a crisis in international cooperation, which should be reconfigured.

“China’s blatant irresponsibility in the early days of the pandemic, in suppressing crucial information, has been absolutely catastrophic, as the US decision to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) amid the crisis pandemic has shown a flagrant lack of respect for the rest of the world ”, describes Agnès Callamard, the new secretary general of Amnesty International.

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