Olavo de Carvalho, a leading light of Brazils conservative movement who was celebrated by devotees and loathed by detractors, has died, according to a statement published Tuesday on his official Twitter profile. He was 74.
De Carvalho died Monday night in Virginia, where he had been living for over a decade, the familys statement read.
The statement didnt mention the cause of death, but the Brazilian media, including newspaper O Globo, widely reported that the thinker had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on Jan 16. His daughter, who was publicly at odds with him, said on her Twitter account that he had died of the disease.
De Carvalhos books and online courses helped reinvigorate the countrys right wing ahead of the 2018 presidential election when he called on his followers to back then-candidate Jair Bolsonaro.
He became a deeply divisive figure, exalted by a segment of the right that viewed him as a clear-eyed philosopher, and despised by much of the left and the intellectual elite. He repeatedly downplayed the severity of COVID-19 and used social media to promote conspiracy theories and spread skepticism about the need for vaccines to end the pandemic.
Bolsonaro was a fervent supporter of de Carvalho, even displaying one of his books during his victory speech on election night in 2018. On Tuesday, the president mourned the loss of one of the greatest thinkers in the history of our country.
Olavo was a giant in the fight for freedom and a beacon for millions of Brazilians. His example and his teachings will mark us forever, Bolsonaro said. The official Twitter profile of Bolsonaros government also praised his monumental legacy.
De Carvalho published several books expounding his ideology, relentlessly warning against domination by the political left and against cultural Marxism. He argued that media, universities, scientists and artists had foisted communist ideology onto the nation.
Much like Bolsonaro, who spent nearly three decades preaching his conservative ideas to a small audience as a federal lawmaker, de Carvalho long remained a marginal figure.
But with Bolsonaros 2018 victory, his thinking penetrated the highest ranks of government, particularly the education and foreign ministries. Several cabinet ministers and other government appointees proudly advertised their intellectual debt to the conservative guru, earning them the nickname of Olavistas. Many have since left government and de Carvalhos influence has waned, at least in public discourse.
Since the pandemic began, de Carvalho railed against those who sought to introduce restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus, measures Bolsonaro also opposed.
In July 2020, months after the virus spread globally and had killed hundreds of thousands, de Carvalho asked on Twitter: When will the so-called conservatives stop using the term pandemic? Following the announcement of his death, legions of devotees were mourning his passing on social media, while some of his opponents cheered his demise.
His daughter wrote on Twitter: May God forgive him for all the evils he committed.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)