The Brazilian shambles

One scandal after another: a Brazilian military officer was arrested in Sevilla, on a presidential flight that was going to the meeting of the G20 in Japan, with 29 kilograms of cocaine.

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Bolsonaro equilibrando coisas.
Foto: Orlando Brito/Os Divergentes
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The meeting of the Superior Court of Justice (STF) on the habeas corpus for Lula had not yet ended, when the news broke that a military officer with the Brazilian Airforce (FAB) had been arrested in Sevilla, on a presidential flight that was going to the meeting of the G20 in Japan, with 29 kilograms of cocaine.


After the surprise–in spite of the fact that in this year there was a similar case with a Brazilian military on a flight to Paris–, came the questions: first of all, how had he left Brazil with the packets of cocaine in his hand baggage? What does it mean for a member of the FAB to be involved in a case of drug trafficking?


In addition to errors in the security of the Brazilian Presidency, speculations arose on the risk of trafficking extending to the Brazilian Armed Forces. Immediate associations were made between the employment of the Armed Forces in combatting drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro and how this contact may have contaminated the institution. The participation of a military person linked to the Presidency, travelling with impunity in an aircraft of the Presidential delegation, is a symptom that other people in the Air Force or other sectors of the Armed Forces may be involved.


Another concern is the lack of security of a Presidential flight, that reflects generalized disorder in this government, which changes ministers and secretaries weekly. In the midst of the crisis of the denouncements of The Intercept, the President of Brazil opened another front of crisis with two fundamental sectors of the government. He changed four important military advisors, including the highest ranking one in the executive, substituting him with a low ranking member of the Federal Police. The principal displaced military person stated in an interview that the government is a shambles, and that it only focuses on what is not of high priority, generating crisis after crisis.


Meanwhile, the President requested the resignation of the President of BNDES, a large public finance bank, because no irregularities were found in the functioning of the bank, as the new president had always proclaimed. Businessmen reacted badly to the news of the abrupt substitution, without reason, of the President of the bank.


In this climate, the President of Brazil changed the itinerary for his trip to the G20, substituting Seville for Lisbon, as if this would resolve the problems. He was uncomfortable with the declarations of Angela Merkel that she was very preoccupied with the grave situation in Brazil and that she wanted to have a serious conversation with the Brazilian President, especially on the issue of forest devastation. Annoyed, the Brazilian President said that he would accept criticism in the G20 meeting, in which he was not to have any significant role, given that he had already published a document with his extravagant positions on globalization and the priority themes of the meeting in Japan.


Meanwhile, the STF voted on two requirements presented by the defence of Lula. The first is a request for the cancellation of his trial, because of the patent lack of impartiality of the presiding judge. The second is a declaration of recusal of judge Moro, which, in the case of its being accepted, given the evidence presented by The Intercept, would mean that all of the trials directed by this judge would be cancelled, leaving Lula free.


The President of the PT, Gleisi Hoffman, said that Lula is being submitted to a real legal torture. From time to time, a climate of tension and expectation is created around some new recourse in his defence, as if it were the final match of a championship. Previsions, analysis, interviews with judges, broadcasts through the judicial system channel, expectations: all of this inundates both the traditional and alternative media.


Lula always recommends keeping one’s feet on the ground; he remains serene, without great expectations. But the present decisions of the Supreme Federal Tribunal have taken on special characteristics. They are the first since the revelations made by the Intercept of the conversations where repeated facts confirm what Lula’s defence always said.  That is, that Moro and all those of the Lava Jato process are not impartial, they do not act as judges, but in coordination, moving like a political party that has one main goal: to persecute Lula, preventing him from being a candidate in the 2018 elections, when all the opinion polls pointed to a victory of Lula in the first round.


One of the absurd decisions of the STF has been the repeated declaration that judge Moro is apt to judge Lula. The revelations of the conversations between the judge and the accusers of Lula, instructing them directly how to act–which is absolutely prohibited–have again challenged this decision.


The first demand of Lula’s defence was rejected, the second postponed until August, after the judicial vacation. A few judges have expressed their concern at the revelations, a few others have already said their position has not changed.


What is certain is that the political climate has changed with these revelations. After their publication, the situation of Moro and his colleagues becomes increasingly compromised. Suspiciously, Moro and his closest collaborator have travelled to the United States; Moro went to visit security bodies of the US government. The same day in which the scandal of the drug trafficking in the Presidential aircraft broke, Moro was visiting the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in order to sign an agreement with the Brazilian government.




(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)


- Emir Sader, Brazilian Sociologist and Political Scientist, is the Coordinator of the Public Policy Laboratory of the Universidad Estadual de Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).
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