Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro declared on Thursday that he would attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, essentially defying city officials who just announced that all attending leaders and diplomats must provide proof of immunization. “Next week, I’ll be visiting the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), where I’ll make an opening statement on Tuesday,” he stated on social media.
Bolsonaro claimed the address would be “calm, objective, and focused on the problems that concern us,” adding that he would cover Brazil’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, agriculture, and energy. The New York mayor’s office sent a letter to the UNGA on Wednesday outlining the rules, which included requiring delegates to provide proof of vaccination in order to enter the debate hall — a move that raised doubts regarding Bolsonaro’s participation in person. According to the letter issued by New York City’s health commissioner, the UN debate venue is categorized as a “convention centre,” which means that all guests must be vaccinated like other individuals engaging in various indoor events in the city.
Hours later, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that he would be unable to enforce the obligation on heads of state. Bolsonaro, who was infected with the virus last year, has stated that he will be the “last Brazilian” to receive the vaccine. According to research firm Our World in Data, Brazil ranks fourth in the world in terms of vaccination doses provided, with a population of 213 million. But, until today, the president has refused to obtain the vaccine, saying that he is already vaccinated since his antibody level is “above the top.”