Bolsonaro could be laying grounds for his own impeachment

. Sep 03, 2019
Bolsonaro prosecutor general impeachment Jair Bolsonaro and Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge

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Good morning! President Jair Bolsonaro’s strategy to name a new prosecutor general could lay grounds for impeachment requests—say experts. New developments in the Marielle Franco case. And the mega auction of oil reserves could be postponed. (This newsletter is for platinum subscribers only. Become one now!)

Not naming a prosecutor general is grounds for impeachment

Raquel Dodge will complete her term as Brazil’s prosecutor general in

two weeks—but Jair Bolsonaro has yet to name her successor. Instead, he wants to &#8220;try out&#8221; one of Ms. Dodge&#8217;s deputies as an interim for a while, before making his final pick. There is a problem, though. One of the responsibilities of the prosecutor general is to investigate the president if necessary—which makes Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s intended &#8220;test drive&#8221; unconstitutional.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>Legal experts have alerted that not picking a new prosecutor general is an impeachable offense. The interim solution could also aggravate the institutional crisis between the Executive and Legislative branches, as Mr. Bolsonaro would pick someone for the job, bypassing the Senate—which is allowed to confirm or deny a nomination.</p> <p><strong>Red flag.</strong> This would be a risky move for President Bolsonaro, as talks of impeachment have already circulated in Brasília in recent months. Moreover, growing rejection ratings and a still-sluggish economy are dangerous ingredients for any government. The Brazilian Congress has proven to be trigger happy with presidents—impeaching two of the four politicians elected for the job prior to Mr. Bolsonaro.</p> <p><strong>Keeping control.</strong> While the new prosecutor general is not appointed, incumbent Raquel Dodge is using her final days in office to put allies in key positions. She named four prosecutors to Brasília&#8217;s Regional Electoral Prosecution Office for two-year terms. While the president delays on naming her successor, Ms. Dodge is making the nominations the new prosecutor general would be entitled to make.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>A new twist in the Marielle Franco case</h2> <p>The Federal Prosecution Office believes that Domingos Frazão, a former member of Rio&#8217;s State Accounts Court (a sort of audit tribunal supposed to monitor public spending), could have ordered the assassination of former City Councilor Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes. Prosecutor General Raquel Dodge asked the Supreme Court for authorization to investigate Mr. Brazão.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Ms. Franco&#8217;s assassination was one of the most gruesome and internationally publicized political crimes in Brazil. One and a half years later, there are still no definitive answers to her case.</p> <p><strong>Why did Marielle die? </strong>The late politician had a history of working against the presence of urban militias in Rio&#8217;s peripheral communities. These paramilitary groups have dominated hundreds of communities—taking a cut in every commercial transaction made by residents, and being just as violent as drug lords. Law enforcement says Ms. Franco&#8217;s murder was carried out by a group called &#8220;The Office of Crime,&#8221; a death squad run by militias.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>The case against Domingos Brazão.</strong> Authorities believe Mr. Brazão used a retired federal marshal who worked in his office to tamper with the investigation and plant false witnesses to mislead the police. The former member of Rio&#8217;s Accounts Court (suspended after being arrested for corruption by Operation Car Wash) denies any involvement with the crime.</p> <script src="" type="text/javascript" charset="utf-8"></script> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>How the Argentinian crisis is bad for Brazil</h2> <p>One year after becoming the International Monetary Fund&#8217;s biggest client, Argentina sees itself once again engulfed by a financial crisis. The Peso has plummeted, inflation has skyrocketed—and the country burned USD 3bn in international reserves in only two days last week, trying to tame the U.S. Dollar. Experts attribute this latest collapse to President Mauricio Macri&#8217;s overconfidence that the economy could be steered in the right direction without major, rapid reforms.</p> <div class="flourish-embed" data-src="visualisation/643189"></div><script src=""></script> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Yesterday, the government released the numbers of Brazil&#8217;s trade balance in August—and they show a clear picture of how Argentina&#8217;s crisis affects Brazil. Experts to the neighboring country fell 40%—from USD 1.3bn last year to USD 793m. The fall in car, truck, and soybean exports was even steeper, close to 50%. Alone, Argentina responded for half of Brazil&#8217;s USD 9bn drop in exports this year.</p> <p><strong>Brazilian currency. </strong>The Argentinian crisis has also contributed to making investors more risk-averse when it comes to Latin America. And that is detrimental to the Brazilian currency—which lost 1% yesterday. The USD closed the day at BRL 4.18, the second-highest nominal exchange rate in history. Only in September 2018, during the presidential campaign, did the Real get so low, with it hitting USD 1: BRL 4.19.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <p><strong>Oil.</strong> Brazilian mayors and governors are counting on the royalties to be generated by the auction of Petrobras&#8217; &#8220;transfer of rights&#8221; oil reserves—scheduled for November 6. The government estimates the auction could raise more than BRL 100bn, but it depends on approval from the Federal Accounts Court—which must happen at least 60 days prior to the auction. This means that the court has until Sunday to make its analysis on the auction&#8217;s rules. Otherwise, it will be postponed.</p> <p><strong>Buyers&#8217; remorse? </strong>Yesterday&#8217;s Datafolha poll showing Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s increasing rejection ratings brought another piece of information—initially omitted from the poll report. If the 2018 election were held today, Workers&#8217; Party candidate Fernando Haddad would (narrowly) win against Mr. Bolsonaro. The president discredited the numbers, but his actions show he knows something is wrong—over the weekend, he attended a service ministered by Edir Macedo, owner of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (Iurd), one of Brazil&#8217;s strongest.</p> <p><strong>2022 election. </strong>Following an opinion poll showing Jair Bolsonaro&#8217;s waning support base, pollster Paraná Pesquisas asked 2,286 people whether or not Justice Minister Sergio Moro should run for the presidency in 2022. The answer was yes for 39% of people—not the majority, but revealing of Mr. Moro&#8217;s potential to divide right-wing voters when Mr. Bolsonaro tries re-election. The two men have not seen eye to eye in recent months, with the latest episode of their souring relationship being Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s denial that he promised to name Mr. Moro to the Supreme Court (he did, <a href="">back in May</a>).</p> <p><strong>Research. </strong>The Education Ministry announced a new round of budget cuts for research grants and scholarships. In eight months, the Jair Bolsonaro administration has 11,811 spots for researchers—and no one not already receiving funding will be considered. Cnpq, a research body linked to the Science and Technology Ministry, won&#8217;t have the money to finance 84,000 researchers from September on.</p> <p><strong>Synod of Bishops.</strong> Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters continue to lash out at the Catholic Church, which holds its next <a href="">Synod of Bishops</a> in the Vatican next month, focused on the Amazon rainforest. On Sunday, the president himself admitted the government&#8217;s intelligence unit was &#8220;monitoring&#8221; the priests who will attend the event (which <a href="">we had informed in April, on our podcast</a>). Now, former Army Commander Eduardo Villas-Bôas said the Church is based on &#8220;distorted information&#8221; and reiterated that the Army won&#8217;t allow &#8220;foreign interference&#8221; on Brazilian soil.

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