The General's Confession



The government of the military, and the defeat of the Chancellor

“By the way, there is no more exemplary case of the failure of this belief in the superiority of military judgment than what happened with the former Commander-in-Chief of the Army who, self-convinced of his “strategic genius” and his great “moral wisdom”, decided to endorse in behalf of the FFAA, and personally supervise the operation that led to the presidency of the country an aggressive psychopath….” (José Luís Fiori, “Under the rubble, the fingerprints of a person responsible”, Jornal do Brasil, January 1, 2021).

With the public confession of one of the parties, new evidence and arguments are dispensed with, and only less informed people can continue denying the direct involvement of the Brazilian military in the legal and media operation, national and international, which blocked the candidacy and arrested the former President Luiz Inácio da Silva in 2018, then installing, in the Presidency of the Republic, an individual who has governed the country for two years, amidst the rubble of a calamitous administration.

This conspiracy became increasingly transparent with the release of recorded conversations – truly “obscene” – between judges and prosecutors in Curitiba, although this was not a surprise to the most attentive analysts who had already diagnosed the true nature a long time ago. role of “Curitibanos”.[1] But now things have changed to a different level, with the release of the interview by Gal Eduardo Villas Bôas, commander of the Army at the time of the “Bolsonaro operation”, which was granted to the director of the CPDOC of the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, and which has now been published in the book General Villas Boas: conversation with the commander, edited by Celso Castro.

In the interview, the general explains in his own words his role and that of his officers from the Army High Command, in the writing and dissemination of his famous post on social networks, dated April 3, 2018, in which he explicitly pressures the Supreme Federal Court not to accept the habeas corpus filed by the defense of former President Lula. He says, textually, that “after receiving the suggestions, we prepared the final text, which took us the entire day, until around 20 pm”.[2] He makes it clear and explicit that he acted as Commander-in-Chief of a State institution, with the support of his senior officers, by making an unconstitutional intervention in an exclusive decision of the Judiciary.

And it is said that he also informed the frightened president of the Federal Supreme Court, Minister Dias Toffoli, that he had 300 soldiers to assert his opinion. And there is no doubt that the disclosure, at this moment, of this interview also has the political function of warning the current commanders of the FFAA, that they do not try to wash their hands and distance themselves from the government, because everyone is committed to what happened, and to what can happen from now on.

“Guilt” is a psychological and legal phenomenon of an eminently individual nature, and it is very difficult or even incorrect to attribute blame or punish peoples, nations, social classes or institutions. That is why it also seems incorrect to me to speak of the guilt of the Brazilian FFAA – as an institution – for the “Bolsonaro operation”. Today, the focus of the debate is another, entirely different, and the central problem is the unpreparedness or incompetence of the military to carry out political and technical functions of government, for which they were neither prepared nor trained in their war schools. Because every day that passes increases even more the distance between the expectations placed by certain sectors of the Brazilian population in the “salvationist myth” of the FFAA and the concrete, real and frustrating performance of the majority of the 6.200 active and reserve officers who occupy positions- key at various levels of the Bolsonaro government. It is increasingly clear that, however well-intentioned some of these gentlemen may be, the vast majority of them were not prepared or trained to perform functions and administer public policies that do not appear in their manuals.

Starting with the pathetic case of the president himself, who is a reserve captain, and who received his intellectual training at military school, as well as his Minister of Health, who is still an active duty general. The president is unable to formulate an idea that has a beginning, middle and end, and it seems that he cannot say a sentence that does not contain countless “swear words” and obscenities;[3] and your Minister of Health doesn't know where the Northern Hemisphere is, he didn't know about the SUS, and he still hasn't been able to understand what a pandemic is, or have any idea how to plan a national vaccination campaign.

These two examples go beyond any limit and have already been much commented on by the national and international press. And what about the chief minister of the Institutional Security Office, always so aggressive and bad-tempered, that he failed to identify a 39-kilogram package of cocaine inside the President of the Republic's plane that he had to protect; or the “astronaut minister”, of Science and Technology, who is simply putting an end to scientific research in Brazil; or even the Minister of Mines and Energy, who was unable to foresee or solve the problem of the energy blackout in Amapá and Roraima, nor to prevent the increase in the price of energy, which is heavily burdening the domestic budget of Brazilians, and so on, with an endless list of active and reserve military who were raised to their governmental positions thanks – ultimately – to the naivety of the desperate and helpless common man who ended up placing his hopes in the technical and moral superiority of these gentlemen in uniform or pajamas. People who may even be men of good will and good intentions, but who were trained to deal with cannons, ships, horses, or warplanes, much more than science, education, health, art, infrastructure, or even technologies cutting-edge, not to mention their absolute lack of preparation in relation to the political life of the parties and the other powers of the Republic, with their respective duties and obligations.

Likewise, it must be recognized that the biggest defeat of the current government, in recent times, was not the direct work of any of these soldiers and came from the field of international politics, under the responsibility of a man from the Itamaraty. Today everyone already knows that the current chancellor sees the contemporary world as a great final and apocalyptic battle between the Judeo-Christian civilization and the other “forces of evil” around the world, with the Chinese at the forefront of all. And he always considered himself one more soldier of the “troops of good”, commanded by Donald Trump, in the global war in defense of the Christian faith and the values ​​and archetypes of Western civilization. For this very reason, and due to the size of the nonsense, the Chinese seem to have never paid greater attention to him, and as they are pragmatists, they just hope that time will return him to his deserved anonymity prior to his surprising appointment as minister. The Europeans, for their part, have already placed Brazil and its Minister of Foreign Affairs in standby, by excluding Brazil from all initiatives and meetings on the climate and health issue, and suspending their trade agreements with Mercosur until Brazil changes its environmental policy. They are all “scalded cats” and are just waiting for this gentleman to leave the chancellery.

The most serious problem and one of the most recent defeats in Brazil, in addition to health and the economy, came from the field of foreign policy, and from South America itself. It all started a long time ago, two years ago, and more precisely, two days after the new Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs took office, when the minister attended the Lima Group meeting on January 04, 2019, when he was “ bearer” of the new American strategy designed by Mike Pompeo with a view to encircling and overthrowing the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro, who had been re-elected the previous year with the support of 67,8% of the votes, and who would take office for his new term on the 10th of January. Just before traveling, the Brazilian Foreign Minister met in Brasília with Mike Pompeo, head of the US State Department, who had been with the President of Colombia on his way to Brasília, and who had also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru in the Brazilian capital before participating, by teleconference, in the meeting of the Lima Group, in which the US does not officially participate.

The new strategy was clear and aggressive and aimed at the immediate overthrow of the government of Nicolás Maduro, including the possibility of a military invasion of Venezuelan territory. The new Brazilian chancellor was placed at the head of this operation, which began with the self-proclamation and immediate recognition, by Brazil and the US, of Juan Guaidó as president of Venezuela, on January 23, 2019; followed by the failed “humanitarian invasion” of Venezuelan territory, which was attempted on February 21, commanded by the new Brazilian Chancellor, under the orders of John Bolton and Mike Pompeo.

After that, still in 2019, Brazil played a direct role in overthrowing the government of Evo Morales and installing a puppet government that immediately broke off its diplomatic relations with the Venezuelan government. Until then, all winds seemed to be blowing in favor of the new strategy designed by Bolton/Pompeo and led by the delirious Brazilian chancellor, with the support now of the entire Lima Group and Ecuador, with the exception of Mexico – unless, obviously, for the hilarious “humanitarian invasion”, in which the chancellor played the role of “jester”.

Thus, since 2020, the Brazilian chancellor has suffered successive setbacks that culminated in the complete defeat of his “Venezuelan strategy”, and of the Bolsonaro government’s expansionist and far-right ideological project. The turning point actually began with the victory of leftist forces in Mexico, still in 2018, followed by the victory of Alberto Fernandez in Argentina, in October 2019, and the new victory of the left in Bolivia, in October 2020, with the apotheotic return of Evo Morales to the country and the flight to the US of most of the right-wing coup supporters protected and sponsored by the Brazilian chancellor. Then, in February 2021, left-wing forces won again, in the first round, the presidential elections in Ecuador and must confirm their victory in the second round that will take place in April, when Chile will elect its new Constituent Assembly, which was a great achievement of the progressive forces of that country. And it is most likely that these forces will emerge victorious in the presidential elections that will take place in November 2021. It is also not impossible that something similar will happen in the presidential elections in Peru in April of this year, and in the Colombian presidential elections in 2021.

But in addition to this “turn to the left” in Latin America, the Brazilian chancellor suffered two more crushing setbacks: the defeat of Donald Trump in the US, and the decision of the European Union to withdraw its official recognition of Juan Guaidó as self-proclaimed president of Venezuela. It is difficult for the foreign policy of any country to suffer a succession of failures so fast, so devastating and in such a short time. And one can only understand this rapid isolation of Brazil, within its own continent, taking into account the most complete ideological and geopolitical idiocy of a Minister of Foreign Affairs who bases his behavior and his foreign policy – ​​in the middle of the XNUMXst century – on his vision world, and for its medieval reading of biblical texts.

The administrative catastrophe of this military government, and the failure of its foreign policy insistently suggest that any negotiation regarding the future of the country should start with two fundamental points: the first would be the return of the military to their barracks and constitutional functions, without any type of concession or distinction between “good” and “bad” military personnel, only military personnel who comply or do not comply with their legal obligations; and the second would be to put a damper on the shameful foreign policy of this government, starting with a new type of relationship with the United States, without fanfare or arrogance, but with sovereign pride and without any kind of vassalage, diplomatic, legal or military.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor at the Graduate Program in International Political Economy at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Brazil in space (Voices).


[1] Fiori, JL and Nozaki, W. “Conspiracy and Corruption: A Very Probable Hypothesis”. The Diplomatic World, July 30 2019.

[2] Quoted in DCM, “General Villas Boas reveals the political actions of the Army that culminated in the election of Bolsonaro”, 10 fev. 2021.

[3] As in the case of a recent interview, in which the President of Brazil was able to display his unmistakable literary style in all letters, when he was asked about government spending on the purchase of condensed milk and he answered promptly: “Go to the bitch who gave birth to you boy, shitty press. These cans of condensed milk are to fill your press’s asses” (JM Bolsonaro, in “Condensed milk is to stick it in the press’s ass”, an article published on the website UOL News, on 28 Jan. 2021.


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