The end of the captain got closer



Bolsonaro opened his game with regard to the Armed Forces, which will precipitate a process of separation between the “group in uniform” and the “group in pajamas”


The changes in the ministry constitute a major defeat for Mr Bolsonaro, followed by a clamorous miscalculation and misstep. The background of these changes is well known, and hardly needs to be remembered: the sum of the health catastrophe with the economic debacle, international isolation and the moral disintegration of Brazilian society. But, from my point of view, the ministerial change itself was aimed at covering up the great defeat of the government, which was the imposed resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ernesto Araújo. People may not appreciate the importance of this gentleman for the Bolsonaro government, and therefore also fail to assess the size of the fall that the chancellor's departure represented for the government.

Regardless of the fact that he was an almost inconceivable idiot, Mr. Ernesto was placed where he was to have a direct connection with the government of Donald Trump and as an anchor capable of insuring the captain against the storms that would threaten his government, whose ignorance and incompetence were full knowledge of the US government. He contributed decisively to the 2016 coup d'état, and later participated in the operation to install Mr Bolsonaro in the Presidency of Brazil, even knowing that he was a completely inept and insane person.

In addition, Ernesto was the most “illustrious” member of the Bolsonarist extreme right. In the midst of this militancy, Ernesto played the role of the wise idiot capable of formulating the ideological idiocy of the extreme right in the language of a “literary club”. His importance in this group was so great that even after Donald Trump's defeat, the decision was to keep him in government. Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, on the other hand, is nothing more than a lobbyist and can be sidelined at any time without further cost to the government; and Mr. Guedes himself should be disembarked soon, exchanged for any other of those “market geniuses” that swarm around the corners of Faria Lima and in the pages of the conservative press.

The departure of the “apocalyptic chancellor”, however, had, has and will have a very different weight in the history of this government. That's why it took massive pressure from various interest groups and a final blow from the Brazilian Senate to oust him from government against Mr Bolsonaro's will. And it was this great defeat that brought Bolsonaro to his knees and led him to this ministerial change, which would be just another ridiculous pantomime of the offended captain if it weren't for the fact that this time he made several strategic calculation errors that could be definitive for the future of your government.

Mr Bolsonaro's first big mistake was having "opened the game" ahead of time, letting everyone see that he currently has no more than a "pair of sevens", as they would say in a poker game. He suffered a great defeat and tried to hide it with a great offensive and ended up giving birth to a mouse, and so everyone saw that he has no one else willing to go to his government other than completely unknown and unprepared figures, coming out of the inner circle of his family and his gatherings and backyard barbecues on the boring weekends in Brasilia.

What he did was a trade-off with his pajama-clad, trusted military, and he brought three new people with whom he almost stumbled across the hall: a palace ceremonial official who was elevated to the status of new foreign minister, without ever having been an ambassador or having made a diplomatic career. In a choice of the type “if you don't have another one, go yourself”, of a person who has no curriculum, abandoned the diplomatic career and is dedicated to teaching “good manners” to the Palace staff, in addition to being obviously a friend of a of the “presidential sons”, and of being a little more “diplomatic” than Ernesto.

For the Ministry of Justice, he brought a police chief from Brasília, from the “bullet bench” and obviously a friend of one of his children. And for the Government Secretariat, he nominated a deputy who is in her first term, also for Brasilia and who was nominated by the president of the Chamber, having been elected in the vacancy of her husband who was arrested or on trial at the time of the elections. And its main title, as they say, is to know how to organize the distribution of Budget resources among the requests and favors of the members of the Centrão, that is, without demerit of a person I don't know, to be placed as a person of trust of the President of the Chamber with to the Presidency's Office and to the Republic's Budget cashier.

As you can see, an entirely mambembe group, but which makes it clear that at this moment Mr Bolsonaro's ability to convene is close to zero, among the political and economic elites of the Brazilian right itself. Furthermore, by rushing into his reactive and vindictive movement, he ended up hitting a great friend and old follower, the Minister of Defence, who was defenestrated without much complacency precisely because he was a military man and had to obey in silence. But with this the captain made it clear that he has no loyalty even with his most faithful and loyal friends, which leaves him completely alone, since he has no political party or any support group other than his children and backyard cronies.

Finally, Bolsonaro opened up his game with regard to the Armed Forces (FFAA), and with that he should precipitate a process of separation between the gang in uniform and the gang in pajamas. He decided to attack the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and the most likely thing is that he provoked a closure of the position of the officers of the three Arms around the position defended by General Pujol. That is, once again, Mr Bolsonaro was left without bread or a piece, and now he should be placed in the punishment chair simultaneously by the FFFA and the Centrão.

the center

The first question is to know what exactly does this parliamentary group that the press dubbed “Centrão” consist of? And everyone knows that this is a cluster of people and acronyms that generally occupy the physiological underworld of the National Congress, representing localized and heterogeneous individual or group interests and demands. The group from which Mr Bolsonaro left after remaining there for 28 years without saying or doing anything. This parliamentary group, or most of its current members, was already part of the “support base” of the FHC government, the Lula government, the Dilma government, the Temer coup and now they are embarking and taking over the government of Mr. Bolsonaro, who they know is a “hollow canoe”' but from which they will run off as soon as they realize that it is sinking definitively.

In summary, this parliamentary group has always been and will be hanging on to any government that its local and corporate demands. The problem is that this group does not have the slightest condition, interest or autonomous capacity to constitute or sustain a government on its own account, much less define a coherent and national project for the country. Its most complete heterogeneity of interests prevents any kind of more intelligent and unitary idea from being born there, or any objective that involves the whole country, beyond its individual or corporate causes.

The military

The military issue constitutes the point where the captain's error will have consequences that are more difficult to be managed, because, in practice, his government is a military government - or at least it is a government of the military who have taken over most of his ministries and commissioned positions. – which is now seeking to establish an alliance with the “Centrão”, which, as we have seen, is a bunch of acronyms that make up a parliamentary bloc unified by their common denominator, the “physiologism” that has always been the object of political and moral criticism of the military.

The participation of the military in this government, and more recently, the catastrophic management of the active general, Eduardo Pazuello in the Ministry of Health, has heavily affected the prestige of the FFAA and its reputation as “saviors of the homeland”. This unpreparedness and incompetence have been demonstrated by the captain who occupies the Presidency, by the unspeakable Minister of Health who has just left and by an endless list of personalities that range from the hilarious – as is the case of the Minister of Science and Technology – to the absolutely disastrous – as is the case with those responsible for the president's institutional security, unable to locate a 39 kg package of cocaine inside the presidential plane. Imagine if it was a bomb, they would probably blame the communists...

But, after all, this lamentable governmental experience of the military may perhaps have some positive consequence, because the conviction within Brazilian officials is growing stronger that the military has a function of State and defense of the nation, and not the function of governing. or sustain a government that is entirely lacking in cadres other than the friends of Mr Bolsonaro's children and family in general.

There is growing awareness in society that the military may even be men of good will and good intentions, but that they were trained to deal with cannons, ships, horses or war planes, much more than science, education, health, art, infrastructure, or even state-of-the-art technologies, 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.

It is at this point that many may be mistaken, thinking that Bolsonaro took over the FFAA by moving his friend to the Ministry of Defense and ejecting the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force. From my point of view, on the contrary, what he will achieve with his disastrous move is to definitively separate the FFAA from his government, creating a gulf that should widen, leaving him increasingly isolated.

But, at the same time, it will perhaps allow the FFAA to learn once and for all that the best thing is to remain in the barracks and not get involved again in an adventure like the one in which General Villas-Boas was involved, taking with him itself most of the Brazilian officers. This geological displacement that is in full course perhaps explains the distinct receptivity that had the famous tweet of Villas-Boas in 2018 and the faded, outdated and completely out of place note that his longtime friend and long-standing coup-mongering family tradition posted on March 29 on website of the Military Club. Things are changing, and maybe it's time for the gang in pajamas to enjoy their retirements and stop writing angry notes on social or corporate networks.


I consider it completely foolish to discuss the election of the year 2022 at this moment. The country is completely out of control in the midst of the biggest health crisis in its history, and is witnessing the paralysis and destruction of its economy, and of the physical infrastructure itself, with the closure of thousands of companies, increasingly accelerated capital outflows and all this on the corpse of more than 300 Brazilians and about one and a half million Brazilians affected by the loss of their loved ones and often responsible for supporting entire families.

This is the great challenge facing Brazilians today. Talking about or calculating the next presidential election now is, at the very least, an inhuman, unsympathetic, unpatriotic posture. And even worse, in a macabre mood it is talking or discussing the re-election of the person largely responsible for the murder that is happening in front of our eyes. This is why it seems extraordinary to me that the press and a large number of analysts spend time on this topic; and worse, consider that it is possible to re-elect this gentleman who is sitting on top of the very tragedy of his people and and he usually makes fun of it.

I would tell you, perhaps against the grain of many colleagues, that there is not the slightest possibility of this gentleman being re-elected after this catastrophe. He should be satisfied if he manages to reach the end of his term, something that is becoming increasingly difficult, and through his own fault. The recent manifestations of businessmen, bankers, economists and intellectuals from the center and the more conservative right indicate that the speed of loss of support for this government is increasing.

On the way of impeachment

The way things are and with the speed at which the pandemic is taking, the economic destruction and the misery of the population, I think that much sooner than later the Centrão itself will abandon ship, and in this case it is very likely that they will take the path of impeachment. But if things go this way, I think that first the military themselves will take care of removing this gentleman from the Presidency, forcing him to resign or taking him to be interned.

Bolsonaro or anyone else who embodies his message of hate, resentment and destruction will always have the support of around 20% of the population in Brazil and in other countries. Bolsonaro had something around 20% in the 2018 elections, before the national and international, political, legal, military and media operation that led him to the Presidency began. And today your core of loyal supporters should again be in the 15-20% range. And it does not seem likely to me that the old conservative right will be able to support this gentleman again after this true tragedy that has been his passage through the Palácio da Alvorada, where he still manages to mock the victims of the pandemic even after his 320 thousand dead so far.

It's another thing to know how he maintains the fanatical support of those 15-20% of Brazilians. I think this issue is complex and leads to several possible lines of explanation. Because explaining the captain's necrophilia isn't difficult; it is difficult to explain the necrophilic adherence of his followers. In fact, this case always reminds me of the famous collective suicide of the faithful of Pastor Jones, in Guyana, on November 18, 1978. Also on that occasion, it was easier for journalists and psychoanalysts to explain Pastor Jones' individual suicide, much more than than the collective suicide of hundreds of fanatical followers who killed themselves along with their leader in a macabre ritual, in which children who resisted were killed by their own parents or by the pastor's helpers, before they also committed suicide.


Lula's return to the Brazilian scene, with the recovery of his political rights, caused an enormous impact, for objective reasons and also for psychological reasons. Lula was eliminated from political life because the forces that supported the captain, in the final phase of his campaign, knew that it would be impossible to elect him if Lula were free. And now, these same forces fear that Mr Bolsonaro will not be able to maintain his composure and play the role of ruler, should the former president appear in his free front, and back to the leadership of the Brazilian opposition.

Everything indicates that the captain has completely lost what he still has of the little judgment he has, and this is one of the fundamental reasons why he dismissed his friend and Minister of Defense, and decided to dismiss General Pujol, because they decided not to repeat the path of Mr. Villas Boas, and did not contest the recent decision of the STF that returned political rights to former President Lula. Regardless of what he does or does not do in the immediate future, Lula's re-entry redefined the parameters of national political life, and all the forces present began to manifest themselves and make their choices.

On the other hand, the opposition once again had a common reference and a vector capable of directly affecting the mismanagement of the country. Lula is a person who has strategic intelligence, charisma and an affectionate relationship with the Brazilian population, even with his opponents, which is something unattainable for a hateful, hateful person who is completely devoid of empathy with his own people, as is the case of Mr Bolsonaro.


Trump's defeat hit hard on the international extreme right, which used the captain through his children. Many even imagined that Captain Bolsonaro could replace Trump and become the new leader of the world's extreme right. But Steve Bannon himself knows perfectly well that the captain does not have the necessary intellectual and political stature to play this role. And there would be no way to support this fiction by making her role as puppet of her children official, not least because they also cannot speak openly and always hide behind their robots.

It is not improbable that the conservative forces will get rid of him before the elections, in order to be able to occupy this space on the right, and even on the extreme right, with a candidate closer to Cartesian rationality and his liberal-cosmopolitan convictions.

The opposition's most urgent tasks at this moment consist of helping the Brazilian people to face and overcome this terrible moment in their history, proposing parliamentary measures that can mitigate the suffering of the population, unemployment and the death of thousands of Brazilians later this year and next. next. To unite and staunchly oppose this government, to prevent the complete disintegration of the sociability networks that still hold Brazil together, and to join forces so that such a tragedy never happens again in Brazil.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor at the Graduate Program in International Political Economy at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of History, strategy and development (Boitempo).

Article edited from an interview given to Eleonora de Lucena on the website Tutameia.


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