Jorge Brítez, an independent lawmaker in Paraguay, came to work at the national capital on Wednesday wearing underwear over his nose and mouth in an apparent mockery of the use of sanitary masks to prevent the spread of Chinese coronavirus.
Brítez – who has become one of the most vocal opponents of sanitary masks usage, vaccinations, and economic lockdowns in the country – posted a photo of himself wearing underwear on his head on social media with the caption, “my homemade mask.”
The photo was apparently taken in the halls of the Paraguayan Congress; he also appears to be wearing rabbit ears made of printer paper.
Mi tapabocas casero. pic.twitter.com/IsKduEpVcb
— Jorge Britez (@Jorgebritez1984) November 17, 2021
“True to his style, the Alto Paraná representative Jorge Brítez engaged in more clownish behavior on Wednesday in the National Congress,” the Paraguayan newspaper Hoy lamented.
Brítez has dedicated the majority of his time in the past two years in Congress to opposing mask mandates, economic lockdowns and vaccines. He has derided the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) as genocidal and promoted “alternative,” unproven medical interventions to fight the Chinese coronavirus. Among his most recent legislative projects are a bill that would do away with Paraguay’s national mask mandate and a law that would ban “all forms of discrimination” based on coronavirus vaccination status.
More recently, Brítez proposed legislation to fine international online social media companies like Facebook and Youtube for censoring Paraguayan citizens after Facebook limited his account’s reach. Facebook suspended the lawmaker’s account in July for 30 days after Brítez used it to promote the use of chlorine dioxide to treat Chinese coronavirus cases. Brítez also filed legislation to legalize the use and manufacture of the chemical to treat the disease. Brítez insisted following the censorship that he was proposing a “non-obligatory” project to promote chlorine dioxide use.
Chlorine dioxide is “a powerful bleaching agent that has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects,” according to the American Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No evidence exists that it can help coronavirus patients overcome the disease, but the FDA notes it has a long history of being proposed to treat novel illnesses.
“Chlorine dioxide products have not been shown to be safe and effective for any use, including COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus], but these products continue to be sold as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions, despite their harmful effects,” the FDA informed.
This month, Youtube issued a strike – one of three before deleting an account – against official account of the Paraguayan Congress to avoid broadcasting alleged coronavirus misinformation. Paraguayan media reported that the strike was a direct response to floor speeches by Brítez.
Brítez has insisted that he would prefer unproven alternatives in the event he requires coronavirus treatment than the vaccine products approved for international use. In March, he condemned the W.H.O. for advisories that he denounced as violations of Paraguayan sovereignty.
“Who is the W.H.O. to issue health dictates?” Brítez asked. “We are a free and sovereign country. We will not follow the genocidal agenda of criminals.”
“Even if I am the last one unvaccinated, and they corner me, I prefer to be guillotined than hand over my principles and convictions,” Britez declared on Twitter last week. Brito also participated in an anti-coronavirus measure protest last week, posing with a large banner reading, “respect our freedom, damn it!!”
— Jorge Britez (@Jorgebritez1984) November 5, 2021
Similarly, last year, Britez joined a protest and engaged in the public burning of sanitary masks.
🗣️ “Vamos a quemar esta porquería”
😷🔥 Un video difundido a través de las redes sociales, muestra al diputado Jorge Brítez del Alto Paraná, junto a un grupo de ciudadanos realizando una quema de tapabocas en la vía pública. #NoticiasTrece pic.twitter.com/CDA6QCbxwW
— Trece (@trecepy) December 21, 2020
The use of cloth masks to prevent the spread of Chinese coronavirus has been the subject of much scientific debate in the past two years, particularly given the diversity of available products – from simple cloths to elaborate surgical masks meant for use in hospitals. A study published by the University of Vermont in August 2020 found that mask use without proper education on how to use them results in risky behavior and improper wearing, which can lead to coronavirus spread.
A study published this week in the British Medical Association’s BMJ found a 53-percent drop in coronavirus cases in populations that use masks correctly.
Brítez has also aggressively opposed economic lockdowns to prevent the spread of the disease, arguing that they disproportionately hurt his constituents and spread poverty.
In June 2020, Brítez appeared in Congress shirtless demanding that the government reopen the border between Paraguay and Brazil, which his district lies squarely on. Brítez noted that 80 percent of his constituents depended on trade with Brazil and faced near-immediate economic devastation without cross-border trade.
😱👇🏼Legislador se sacó la remera en plena sesión.
— ABC TV Paraguay (@ABCTVpy) June 3, 2020
In May of this year, Brítez jokingly proposed a law to help victims of economic lockdowns by legalizing larceny against public officials.
“We are going to study, to analyze, up to how much can be allowed, or in all cases, legalize theft against those who stole from the people, those who looted municipalities, who looted governorships, we can take a little from there to assuage the situation,” Brítez explained.
The proposal at the time would have allowed the theft of up to 10.000 guaranís from public officials, which amounts to about $1.46.