House committee summons Defense Minister over anti-democratic threats

Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto
Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto during a cabinet meeting. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

The House’s Labor Committee voted today to summon Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto to answer lawmakers’ questions two weeks from now. Congressmen want him to explain a July 22 report regarding a threat he allegedly made to launch a military coup should lawmakers fail to approve President Jair Bolsonaro’s proposal to reinstate paper ballots to Brazil’s voting system.

Newspaper O Estado de S.Paulo reported that Mr. Braga Netto — who is extremely loyal to Mr. Bolsonaro — sent a message to House Speaker Arthur Lira by way of an intermediary, saying there would be no election in 2022 unless paper ballots were reintroduced.

Earlier today, the Covid hearings committee to investigate the government’s pandemic response decided against summoning Mr. Braga Netto to explain his role in negotiations over vaccine purchases during his stint as the president’s chief of staff. 

Senators believe the move would only enhance already high political tensions amid the president’s threats to block the 2022 election. The House, meanwhile, has decided to take the risk.