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Bolsonaro was knocked over in Brazil?

There’s no classic coup. Bolsonaro, very incompetent in the face of the coronavirus crisis, was circumvented in many important decisions, especially related to the pandemic.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s denialist attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic is weakening the political terrain beneath him on a daily basis. Describing the pandemic as a “simple flu,” Bolsonaro opposes the implementation of quarantine, the closing of schools, and the halting of production.
In Brazil, where the coronavirus epidemic spread significantly, as of April 6 the number of cases was 11721; and of deaths is 516 .

Bolsonaro, who did not extend his position of denial even under such widespread epidemic conditions, did so only politically. All the state governors in the country (who have a wide range of powers within the federal system) are breaking with Bolsonaro’s position. Where the quarantine should be declared, the governors declare it. Among them are those who are politically close to Bolsonaro, but the social situation is so hot and heavy that they even had to take a stand against the president on this issue.

Likewise, Bolsonaro is at odds with his own health minister, Luiz Henrique Mandetta. There is also a serious disconnect between Bolsonaro and Mandetta, whose handling of the coronavirus crisis is generally successful in the country. What the two say is not the same. Bolsonaro hinted that he could fire the health minister without giving his name, and said he would “not hesitate to use my pen against some ministers who have become stars” by participating in a live broadcast on Facebook on April 5. Finally, in the army, which is the main source of Bolsonaro’s power, generals have been known to think differently than Bolsonaro about quarantine.

Calls and efforts to remove Bolsonaro are being made in the Senate and Parliament. Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) and the “democratic socialist” Party of Freedom and Socialism (PSOL) are also calling for Bolsonaro’s dismissal. Bruno Magalhães, the representative of PSOL´s International Observatory, a party that has 10 deputies in the Brazilian parliament and is influential in the popular movement, pointed to the firing of Bolsonaro as the only way out of the country’s serious political crisis. Because, according to Magalhães, Bolsonaro ignores public health and opposes any quarantine measures in line with religious dogmas and the interests of the company.

In this atmosphere of political crisis, Horacio Verbitsky, a well-known journalist in Argentina, made an important claim in a program on the radio “El Destape” in Argentina. According to his statement, a senior officer of the Brazilian army, in contact with his counterpart in the Argentinean army, declared that they had “disabled Bolsonaro in all important decisions” and that now, the important decisions were taken by General Walter Braga Netto, who was recently appointed as the Head of the Civil House. Verbitsky described Bolsonaro as “a monarch without effective power”.

Verbitsky’s statement was found in several Spanish-language media under the headlines “Soft coup in Brazil”, “Are generals insubordinate to Bolsonaro?” From this, the impression was given that a classic military coup was staged against Bolsonaro. However, there is no classic coup d’état. Bolsonaro, very incompetent in the face of the coronavirus crisis, was circumvented in many important decisions, especially related to the pandemic. Of course, this was decided in the Brazilian General Staff, which brought Bolsonaro to power. But it would be better to define it as an indirect intervention by the generals who governed the country behind the scenes.

So who is General Walter Braga Netto, who is said to play the role of “functional president”? While Netto was the country’s Chief of Staff, on February 12, 2020, Bolsonaro invited him as the Head of the Civil House of the presidential office (Chefe da Casa Civil da Presidência da República). General Netto gained increasing political power, with this delicate position providing the relations between the Presidency and the Senate and House of Representatives. The Head of the Civil House of the presidential office is considered a highly authorized minister, and the person in this position is often described as “the second most powerful person in Brazil”. This Chief performs tasks such as assisting the President, overseeing all Cabinet requests, and conducting negotiations with Congress and state governors.

Therefore, the generals who have been running the country behind the scenes since Bolsonaro came to power in a quasi-electoral quasi-hit way, seem to have made an “internal fix”, seeing that Bolsonaro cannot handle the crisis of attrition and coronavirus. However, it is clear that the political consequences of this may also reach a point where Bolsonaro will be unnecessary. Walter Braga Netto, who has gathered all the threads in his hands in such a severe crisis, why not count him as the potential president of the new period?

The coronavirus crisis seems to lead to many political crises around the world. Bolsonaro has already been pushed to the edge of events with his attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic, and in Hungary, Victor Orban obtained the authority to govern by decree of parliament, establishing his personal dictatorship. As the coronavirus pandemic deepens, we will see many other political crises.

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Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder