BERLIN — A Brazilian activist dressed as the grim reaper is taking to the streets of Berlin every night in a one-man protest against what he calls the “deadly health policies” pursued by his homeland’s president in the pandemic.
Multimedia artist Rafael Puetter, who has been in Berlin for five years and originally comes from Rio de Janeiro, made his nightly excursion early Wednesday as Brazil for the first time reported a 24-hour tally of COVID-19 deaths exceeding 4,000.
That made Brazil the third nation to cross the threshold. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has long downplayed the risks of the coronavirus and remains fully against lockdowns as too damaging to the economy.
“My performance starts at the Brazilian embassy in Berlin at midnight every night. I dress myself as … death,” said Puetter. “I think the president is promoting deadly health policies and I think death’s the symbol of this government in many ways.”
He then walks to the Brandenburg Gate and the nearby German parliament, in front of which he counts out one sunflower seed to represent each of the people who have died in Brazil over the previous 24 hours and puts them into a glass. He aims eventually to plant the seeds as a memorial.
“I wanted to create a clear image of what’s going on in Brazil,” said Puetter, who wore a black hood and cape with the words “SOS Brasil” on the back, a skull mask and a sash in Brazil’s green-and-yellow colors.
Brazil has confirmed more than 13.1 million coronavirus cases since the pandemic began and nearly 337,000 deaths, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University. In both cases, that is the second-highest total behind the United States.