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Brazil’s Former President Bolsonaro To Be Charged for Falsifying COVID-19 Vaccine Records

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BRASILIA, Brazil – In a significant development that intensifies the legal challenges facing Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s federal police have recommended that the former president be criminally charged for allegedly falsifying his COVID-19 vaccine card to facilitate travel to the United States during the pandemic.

This recommendation, made on Tuesday, March 19, 2024, marks a potential turning point, as it could lead to the first criminal charges against the ex-leader.

Federal prosecutors are now tasked with deciding whether to pursue the case against Bolsonaro, who has been embroiled in a series of investigations since leaving office.

According to the police, Bolsonaro and his 13-year-old daughter were purported to have obtained falsified vaccination records in late 2022, just before Bolsonaro traveled to Florida for a three-month stay following his electoral defeat.

The United States, which had stringent entry requirements during the pandemic, necessitated proof of vaccination for most international visitors.

The Brazilian police’s inquiries extend to whether Bolsonaro used the alleged forged documentation for entry into the U.S., potentially implicating him in additional criminal activities.

Despite his public declarations of not having received the vaccine, Bolsonaro has vehemently denied any involvement in the falsification scheme. His legal team has stated they are currently reviewing the accusations laid out by the federal police.

The backdrop to these developments includes Bolsonaro’s controversial stance on Covid-19 vaccines, where he infamously downplayed their importance and instead, endorsed unverified treatments.

His administration’s sluggish response to securing vaccines is criticized for exacerbating the pandemic’s toll in Brazil, which saw over 700,000 fatalities, ranking it second globally after the United States in COVID-19 deaths.

Investigations into Bolsonaro have not been confined to the vaccine card issue. He has been scrutinized over the acceptance and distribution of luxurious gifts during his presidency, and allegations of attempting to usurp power post his 2022 electoral loss.

Moreover, Brazil’s electoral court has already barred him from holding public office until 2030 for disseminating false information about the nation’s voting systems.

In a more direct action against Bolsonaro, police raided his home in May 2023, seizing his cellphone, and arresting close associates as part of the vaccine card investigation.

Documents unveiled indicate that Bolsonaro’s aide, Lt. Col. Mauro Cid, alongside Cid’s wife, had earlier used counterfeit vaccination cards for U.S. entry, allegedly under Bolsonaro’s orders.

This sprawling scandal not only encapsulates Bolsonaro’s first few months post-presidency, spent near Disney World in Orlando but also touches on his additional travels to the United States for official engagements, all while purportedly unvaccinated.

As federal prosecutors deliberate on the police’s recommendations, the scope of Bolsonaro’s legal challenges widens, underscoring a dramatic fall from grace for Brazil’s once-dominant political figure.

The unfolding saga promises to keep legal and political observers closely tuned in for further developments.

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