This is an article by political blogger, Jose Atento, who is a watcher of all things in the Portuguese speaking world. In this case, the extraordinarily democratic words of Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, and the threat he faces from other branches of the legislature.
Last time, I reported how the Brazilian Establishment was doing everything possible to overthrow Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro. At that time I mentioned the incident created by the early departure of Justice Minister Sergio Moro. Moro became a Brazilian national hero as the judge who led Operation Car Wash that put jailed powerful politicians and entrepreneurs, including former president Lula. Bolsonaro invited him to be his justice minster because Moro represented one of his causes: the fight against corruption.
Some pointed out that even though he was aligned with the fight against corruption, Moro was against some of Bolsonaro’s other positions. Contrary to Bolsonaro, Moro was in favor of abortion and in favor of disarming the population.
Let us jump to the present and the COVID-19 crisis. The Supreme Court, mostly composed of judges appointed during the 16 years of socialist rule, decided that the guidance, administration and control of how to tackle the pandemic was the responsibility of the state governors. One may argue that was correct, since public health is prerogative of states and municipalities, but, in practice, that made the federal government like the “Queen of England” whose only duty was to print money. Nonetheless, Bolsonaro made his opinion heard loud and clear, that, based on the Brazilian reality, where most of the population eat based on the money they make every day, the best approach would be a vertical lockdown of those in higher-risk groups (the elderly and those with health conditions); otherwise, the social consequences of the lockdown would be huge.
Some states, particularly those governed by the socialist Labour Party (PT) and the state of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, whose governors are pre-candidates for the 2022 presidential election, opted to force a full lockdown upon the population, calling it “social distancing.” Here comes the newspeak: everything was closed, and everyone told to stay at home, but it was not a lockdown. God knows what a lockdown would mean to them. At the same time, they began to bombard Bolsonaro with all sort of accusations, such as that he was anti-science, and the mainstream Brazilian media (that includes the newly created CNN-Brazil) blamed Bolsonaro for everything, even though his power had been removed by the Supreme Court.
Probably, the most outrageous of all was the way state and municipal police forces began to treat citizens who allegedly “disrespected social distancing” even if they were alone in an empty space. The brutality of a police-state became visible in videos that flooded social media (but not mainstream media) where working men, the elderly and women, even in bikinis, were brutally handcuffed and arrested. Meanwhile, governors are releasing criminals from jail, even drug-trafficking leaders and unrepentant rapists.
During this time of crisis, Justice Minister Moro resigned, claiming Bolsonaro was trying to interfere with the work of the Federal Police, even attempting to change some of its directors. Vague as this accusation was, as it is a constitutional prerogative of the president to appoint people to senior positions, the Establishment began to ask for Bolsonaro’s impeachment. Moro claimed that the content discussed during the last ministerial meeting would prove that. the Supreme Court opened an investigation based on Moro’s accusation, and requested the tape of the meeting.
Normally, Ministerial meetings are recorded, portions of them are kept, and the tape is destroyed. But in this case, Bolsonaro ordered the tape not to be destroyed, and handed the tape, unchanged, to the Supreme Court for analysis. To the surprise of many, one of the Supreme Court judges made the tape public last Thursday, just erasing the mention to one country, obviously China. This unprecedented action was an attempt to hurt Bolsonaro. It backfired.
The tape not only vindicated Bolsonaro against Moro’s accusations, but it was very good for Bolsonaro, as it showed him defending the positions that led to his election. It showed that Bolsonaro is the same person in public and in private. Indeed, character is what you do when no one is looking.
In the tape he complains to his ministers that he wants them to defend his positions: family, God, Brazil, guns, freedom of speech and the free market. And if any minister is not happy with that, they can leave the government.
Well, that is what Moro did a few days later, trying to create a crisis. He failed.
This tape is so powerful and so positive for Bolsonaro, that left-wing parties now are asking for its distribution to be censored.
José Atento is a Brazilian blogger. He can be reached at infielatento.org.