President replaced six high-level officials on Monday, after pressure from centrists and criticism of pandemic response

Cristiane Sampaio

On Monday (29th), changes within the Jair Bolsonaro administration caused repercussions in Brazil’s political sphere. Throughout the day, the ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense, Ernesto Araújo and Fernando Azevedo and Silva, respectively, left their posts.

The Minister of the Union’s Prosecutor-General’s office (AGU), José Levi, also left the government. He resigned and was replaced by André Mendonça, who leaves the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to return to the AGU, an entity he previously headed between January 2019 and April 2020.

His replacement will be Federal Police Chief Anderson Gustavo Torres, tagged as a personal friend of Senator Flávio Bolsonaro, the president’s son. Torres was the Secretary of the Federal District’s (Brasilia) security department.

Other figures were also replaced. General Luiz Eduardo Ramos left the Government Secretariat to command the executive branch’s Civil Affairs department, while General Braga Netto left the same agency to take over the Ministry of Defense.

The Government Secretariat will now be headed by federal Congresswoman Flávia Arruda, the wife of José Roberto Arruda, the former governor of the Federal District.

Centrists pushed for changes

The changes came after pressure from the so-called “centrão” (centrists), a group of parliamentarians that lends political support to President Jair Bolsonaro in the National Congress.

The “centrão” is a collection of political parties without a clear ideological inclination, that sides with a variety of different governments in exchange for its own political benefit.

Changes in the leadership of high-ranking institutions have been foreseen by backstage analysts since February, due to agreements made between the government and the “centrão” to elect the presidents of both the Congress and Senate.

However, the game of musical chairs at the Ministries, ensued following the successive criticisms that the Executive branch has received from parliamentarians for its bad handling of the pandemic.

“Cornered by the disaster that is his government, Bolsonaro replaces ministers to try to shore up support in Congress. It will not be enough. No party wants to go under with a bad president. Another replacement will come and it won’t work either. The problem is the president”, said on Twitter Alessandro Molon, the Congressional opposition leader from the center-left Brazilian Socialist Party.

“A minister comes in and a minister leaves, and the incompetence of this government remains on the rise: there is a lack of vaccines, medication, ICU beds and above all, the government’s commitment to saving lives during this pandemic is lacking”, said Senate minority leader, Jean Paul Prates, from the Workers’ Party.

On Tuesday (30th) the Ministry of Defense announced the resignation of the commanders of the three branches of the Armed Forces: Edson Pujol (Army), Ilques Barbosa (Navy) and Antônio Carlos Moretti Bermudez (Air Force).

In a press release, the ministry did not specify the reasons behind the departures nor did it announce replacements.


The original article can be found here