Sergio Moro's political defeat

Image: Lara Mantoanelli


The political conjunction between Lava-Jato and the barracks was notorious. With Moro defeated, the unified military party, active and incensed by the media, seeks a way out with Bolsonaro or with an alternative to the right

Last week, Jair Bolsonaro was under pressure from all sides: an absolutely uncontrolled pandemic (which worsened even further in this week with a daily average of 3.000 deaths); Free Lula, candidate and operating politics like never before; threatening letter from doubles of businessmen-economists-bankers-and-former Central Bank presidents; Arthur Lira pressing the yellow light and giving an explicit message about the risk of impeachment; Doria marquetando with Butanvac…

To get out of this predicament, the “myth” produced the biggest crisis in command of the Armed Forces since the confrontation that took place in 1977 between the military president, General Ernesto Geisel, and the then Minister of the Army, General Sylvio Frota. There, too, the confrontation had the presidential succession as a backdrop. Frota sought to be the next general president, representing the hard line against the “slow, gradual and safe” opening. It is no coincidence that a crisis of similar proportions is now occurring and also involves internal disputes in the Armed Forces, having as theme the positioning of the Armed Forces in authoritarian governments.

Why did Bolsonaro change the Minister of Defense and the heads of the three Armed Forces? The most widespread explanation is that he demands public demonstrations of support from commanders for his genocidal way of dealing with the pandemic and also in his clashes with governors who, in a responsible manner, have determined or are considering imposing restrictions on the movement of people in their states as a way to combat Covid-19.

This “resistance” of the dismissed military commanders was reported by a large part of the media – which always count on equally military sources – as a component of the military’s commitment to democracy and to the action of the Armed Forces as a policy “of the State and not of government".

especially the Globe Organizations emphasize – sometimes more covertly, sometimes more explicitly – that the crisis between Bolsonaro and the military began when Sergio Moro was ousted from power in April 2020. Soon after that moment, Bolsonaro intensified his appearances in the anti-democratic acts of that period in Brasilia. He would have required explicit support from military commanders and this would have been denied. It is also at this moment that Bolsonaro and his cheerleaders clash against the STF.

It is true that the political conjunction between Lava-Jato and the barracks was notorious. Without Dallagnol and Moro as “national heroes” there would have been no political environment for Bolsonarism and, more than that, for the return of olive-green Sebastianism, in which the military would rescue the dignity of the Brazilian nation, “against corruption and communism ”. She hatched the serpent's egg. This conjunction was already absolutely visible in the March 2016 demonstrations for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, widely publicized by the media, in particular by the Globe Organizations.

Today there is talk of a Bolsonaro who is planning a self-coup, but the coup took over the streets, networks and Globo screens there, still in 2016, with Moro and the military as protagonists. Bolsonaro was already doing politics at military graduations across Brazil, with the blessing of commanders, but he was still far from the spotlight. Moro was incensed as an undisputed national hero, in the period shortly after the 2014 to 2018 elections.

Bolsonaro would only consolidate himself as the Messiah – the verb that he would incarnate as a candidate for the articulation between car washes and the nostalgic militarism of the dictatorship – in the period of the truck drivers’ strike, in May 2018, even when there was the possibility of Lula’s candidacy, which dominated the polls. The culmination of this conjunction would take place in the invitation for Moro to occupy the Ministry of Justice and in the subsequent blessing of General Villas Bôas to Bolsonaro in the days before his inauguration.

Let us remember all the media incense about Moro when he resigned and the beyond forced launch of his candidacy for the presidency in 2022. There, the divorce between the Lava Jatista media and Bolsonarism was consummated. Moro presented himself as the best alternative to Bolsonaro.

Almost a year after his fall, Moro's political defeat seems complete with the decision of the 2nd panel of the Supreme Court due to his suspicion. It strengthens Lula’s candidacy and definitely weakens the military’s alignment with a still possible, but increasingly distant, Moro candidacy in 2022.

The media operation that takes place today seeks to exempt the military from the blame for having produced Bolsonaro. A fictitious separation is being created between the military “closed with Bolsonaro” and the military “closed with the Constitution”. In his moment of greatest decline in popularity, Bolsonaro's isolation and his pernicious influence on the Armed Forces spread.

It is true that the changes promoted in the ministry give even more strength to this version of the facts. First, Bolsonaro gives up Ernesto Araújo in Foreign Affairs. It would be an obvious change, except for the fact that this world embarrassment is considered one of the organic intellectuals of Olavism, the main bearer of the anti-Communist and anti-China discourse that moves the 15% of root Bolsonarism. It was not by chance that he fell shooting Senator Kátia Abreu – a friend of Dilma – accusing her of being a Chinese 5G lobbyist in the Senate. He was exchanged for Carlos Alberto França, former head of ceremonial at Planalto, who was never ambassador to any country in the world and who was raised to the new position so that foreign policy remains an extension of Eduardo Bolsonaro’s cabinet.

Second, Bolsonaro brings Anderson Torres, a Federal Police delegate, to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, former Secretary of Public Security for the Federal District and former chief of staff of federal deputy Fernando Francischini (PSL-PR). . A friend of the family in a government that is not very fond of justice, Torres seems to be a bet for Bolsonaro’s rapprochement with the police forces, another element of root Bolsonarism, with whom he has relations that have been shaken by the evil acts carried out against civil service in general.

Thirdly, Bolsonaro consolidates his alliance with Arthur Lira, with the arrival of Flávia Arruda (PL-DF) to command the release of parliamentary amendments at the Government Secretariat. Heiress to the votes of her husband José Roberto Arruda, former governor of the DF and impeached for corruption, was the deputy elected with the highest number of votes in the DF and chaired the Mixed Budget Committee, appointed by Arthur Lira in November 2020, when Rodrigo Maia was still chairing the chamber.

It is interesting to note, by the way, how geopolitically Bolsonaro continues to isolate himself more and more, by bringing politicians from the Federal District to the government, or even a chancellor from the Planalto Palace itself.

Finally, the resignation of General Fernando Azevedo e Silva and the reaction of the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force. A hybris Bolsonaro’s campaign reaches its peak and opens the way for a tactical retreat by the Armed Forces leadership, which sends a message of resistance to Bolsonarist authoritarianism to the country, already in a climate in which experienced journalists such as Mario Sergio Conti ask the military for an Operation Valkyrie against Bolsonaro.

The impasse arises and Bolsonaro seeks to buy time. On the one hand, he seeks to strengthen himself with his new allies and the command of the Legislature, with the physiological right nicknamed Centrão, who supported him in the changes in the Ministry of Defense and in command of the Armed Forces. On the other hand, like the fabled scorpion, he has a destructive nature that prevents him from going back indefinitely from his authoritarian project.

If the military leadership is not in agreement with a Bolsonaro self-coup, it also seems unlikely that it will accept an impeachment process. As much as he has the Mourão card up his sleeve, it would be too risky and traumatic for those ultimately responsible for this disastrous adventure for the Brazilian people.

The doubt is about how the military will behave with the deepening of the health, economic and political crisis. It seems unlikely that they will passively return to the barracks, after so much rowing to regain their leadership role in the State. It also seems unlikely that they will split in 2022. What will they be?

Hence, the task of the left – with which the military will not be – is at this moment to act in the fight against the pandemic and, at the same time, to unify and strengthen itself. They will face the unified military party, active and incensed by the media, either with Bolsonaro or with an alternative to the right.

*Wagner Romao Professor of political science at Unicamp and former president of the Unicamp Teachers Association

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