The Brazilian writer and anti-vaxxer Olavo de Carvalho, who has been described as the ideologue of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, has died in hospital following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Olavo Luiz Pimentel de Carvalho, who was born in the city of Campinas in the south-eastern Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, passed away in hospital in the city of Richmond in the south-eastern US state of Virginia on Monday, 24th January, aged 74.
He had lived in the USA since 2005 and had been residing close to the city of Petersburg, also in Virginia, at the time of his passing.
A former astrologist, De Carvalho started writing about politics, literature and philosophy in the 1980s, coming to a wider Brazilian audience in the following decade.
He came to be described as a polemicist, provocateur or a far-right conspiracy theorist following several controversial claims, including that global warming was a hoax, that Barack Obama was not born in the USA and that the 2020 US presidential election was fraudulent.
De Carvalho’s unorthodox views extended to COVID-19. He regularly questioned the severity of the pandemic and spread misinformation about the coronavirus, or “moronavirus” as he dubbed it, on social media. He had also expressed scepticism about vaccination.
De Carvalho’s death came eight days after a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. His cause of death is not clear, with his estranged daughter Heloisa claiming it was the coronavirus and his personal doctor claiming it was other causes. He had reportedly been battling other illnesses for months.
The relationship between De Carvalho and President Bolsonaro has been likened to that between political strategist Steve Bannon and former US President Donald Trump. Bannon himself had once himself called De Carvalho “one of the greatest conservative intellectuals in the world”.
De Carvalho considered himself a philosopher, though other philosophers generally rejected this label for him. In a statement on his death, President Bolsonaro said: “One of the greatest thinkers in the history of our country left us today. Olavo was a giant in the fight for freedom and a beacon for millions of Brazilians.”