melting-down Bolsonaro

The meltdown of Bolsonaro as a president

There are now over 70 impeachment requests pending against Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. Indeed, there are no shortage of reasons to call for the head of state’s removal. There are petitions against Bolsonaro’s breach of decorum — related to the time he posted a pornographic video on his social media accounts in 2019 — his attacks on the press, his glorification of the military dictatorship, his attempt to illegally meddle in the Federal Police, and his disastrous handing of the coronavirus pandemic. 

With support among the heads of Congress, however, there is no sign that any of these requests will be analyzed any time soon. The oldest such impeachment petition has been pending for 750 days. While he is not close to being suspended from office, that does not mean Bolsonaro is not showing signs of weakness. 

As March came to an end, Bolsonaro had one of the biggest wobbles of his term so far. After leading a vast cabinet reshuffle that involved the firing — or, officially, the “resignation” — of Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva, the president created an unprecedented crisis with the Armed Forces. For the first time since 1977, the commanders of Brazil’s Army, Navy, and Air Force issued their joint resignation in protest

Myriad theories were floated about the president’s true intentions. Some say he forced the Armed Forces’ hand, seeking to gain full control of the military and launch a self-coup. Others say this was good old-fashioned self-preservation, with Bolsonaro pushing out dissenting voices in his government and bringing in yes-men that will improve his clout with Congress. Meanwhile, there is another suggestion that the president’s antics were simply to control the media narrative. If that was his plan, it appears to have worked. Brazil registered a record 3,950 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday — but the newspapers focused their attention on the palace intrigue. 

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