Bolsonaro: I won’t wait for the Feds to f*** over my family

. May 15, 2020
Bolsonaro: I won't wait for the Feds to f*** over my family Bolsonaro: I won't wait for the Feds to f*** over my family. Photo: Alan Santos/PR

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The latest developments in the investigation against Jair Bolsonaro. The decree to shield elected officials from all liability during the pandemic. The rising number of infections. And Petrobras’ losses.

Feds, crime, and videotape

Supreme Court Justice Celso de Mello is expected to rule today on whether or not to lift the secrecy of a video recording of an April 22 cabinet meeting.

The footage became the central piece of evidence in the investigation into whether or not President Jair Bolsonaro illegally interfered with the Federal Police. On Thursday evening, the Solicitor General&#8217;s Office pleaded that the court only use segments of the video in the case, for &#8220;national security&#8221; reasons. In its request, the government itself released part of the sensitive content.</p> <p><strong>Why it matters. </strong>The move is part of a strategy to deflate the shocking effect the footage might have. But it also has a legal justification: if the entire conversation is admitted into evidence by Justice Celso de Mello, other crimes might surface.&nbsp;</p> <ul><li>Education Minister Abraham Weintraub reportedly suggested sending all 11 Supreme Court justices to jail. And <em>Época</em>&#8216;s Guilherme Amado reports that Mr. Bolsonaro said Brazil should arm its citizens against state governors. Both comments could be interpreted as a violation of the National Security Law, which forbids acts against democratic institutions.</li></ul> <p><strong>What to make of it.</strong> It certainly looks bad for Mr. Bolsonaro. One line in particular, which had been partially leaked already, suggests non-republican motives for his meddling with the Feds.</p> <blockquote class="wp-block-quote"><p><em>&#8220;I&#8217;ve tried to change people from our security in Rio and, officially, I couldn&#8217;t. That&#8217;s over. I won&#8217;t wait for them to f*** over my entire family with shenanigans, or a friend of mine, because I can&#8217;t pull someone from security who belongs to the structure and is at the end of the line. That will change. If it doesn&#8217;t, then his boss will change. If [I] can&#8217;t change his boss, then the minister will change. Period. We&#8217;re not playing games here …&#8221;</em></p></blockquote> <p><strong>But, but, but. </strong>&#8220;Without the full context of the quote, it is impossible to determine whether Mr. Bolsonaro committed a crime,&#8221; said Antônio Carlos de Almeida Castro, a go-to criminal lawyer for politicians, speaking to <strong>The Brazilian Report</strong>&#8216;s Brasília correspondent Brenno Grillo. He mentions that the president&#8217;s ambiguous way of expressing himself might work to his advantage, blurring the interpretation of his statements.</p> <p><strong>Prosecutor?</strong> In a strange move, Prosecutor General Augusto Aras sided with the government and requested access to the video evidence to be limited, saying the case could &#8220;set the stage for the 2022 presidential race.&#8221; The legal statement was more favorable to the president than that presented by the Solicitor General.</p> <ul><li>As we said in our <a href="">last Weekly Briefing</a>, the government has suggested Mr. Aras would be a viable candidate for a Supreme Court seat that will open up in November, &#8220;depending on his performance&#8221; as the country&#8217;s top prosecutor.&nbsp;</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>A Covid-19 carte blanche?</h2> <p>President Jair Bolsonaro issued a provisional decree which shields public agents — including elected officials — from any legal responsibility for acts related to fighting Covid-19. Public officials will only be held accountable for actions in which they commit a &#8220;clear, intentional, and inexcusable mistake.&#8221; The decree says that courts shall take into account the &#8220;context of uncertainty about the adequate measures to face the pandemic.&#8221;</p> <ul><li>This sounds like self-defense, as Mr. Bolsonaro has himself become the face of Covid-19 denial around the globe. He has encouraged people to break with social distancing guidelines and go about their business as usual.</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> It also could be used to shield public administrators who sign off on fraudulent purchase orders for ventilators and intensive care beds. Several corruption cases, notably in Rio de Janeiro — where the deputy health secretary was arrested — have been uncovered by the police.</p> <p><strong>No go.</strong> Many legal scholars called the decree unconstitutional and an affront to the rule of law. &#8220;Moreover, the president cannot issue a provisional decree — which can only be used for urgent matters —&nbsp;for this legal workaround,&#8221; says Prosecutor Roberto Livianu, a Ph.D. in law from the University of São Paulo.</p> <p><strong>Other countries.</strong> In France, elected officials are also <a href="">trying to shield themselves from legal action</a> on their conduct during the pandemic. The French Senate wanted to include an amendment in the state of emergency law protecting mayors — but the lower house, where President Emmanuel Macron holds a majority, intends to extend protections to <em>all</em> elected officials, including his own cabinet.</p> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Covid-19 count tops 200,000</h2> <p>The latest coronavirus update released by the Health Ministry reported 13,944 new Covid-19 infections and 844 new deaths — pushing total figures to 202,918 and 13,993, respectively. A total of 31,790 infections were found in health workers, who are particularly exposed to the virus. Some 114,000 other professionals are suspected to have contracted the coronavirus. Nursing technicians and assistants are among the worst-affected (34 percent), followed by nurses (17 percent) and doctors (13 percent).</p> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> Medical resources are scarce as it is, but the more health professionals are forced to go on sick leave, the bigger the stress becomes on hospital networks.</p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/2409022" data-url=""><script src=""></script></div> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>Petrobras posts BRL 48 billion in losses</h2> <p>The 2020 oil crisis pushed Petrobras Q1 results way down. The Brazilian state-controlled oil and gas company recorded BRL 48.5 billion (USD 8.35 billion) in losses, against last year&#8217;s profit of BRL 4 billion. This was the firm&#8217;s first quarter in the red since Q3 2017, and the slump came off the back of its best yearly net profits on record: BRL 40.1 billion in 2019.</p> <ul><li>In a <a href="">press release</a>, Petrobras said the losses were mainly caused by a BRL 65-billion impairment charge the firm took when it wrote down the value of some of its oil fields, saying the &#8220;challenging environment&#8221; now meant they were overvalued.&nbsp;</li></ul> <p><strong>Why it matters.</strong> With demand for oil at historic lows, the company&#8217;s recovery will be slow, according to chief executive officer Roberto Castello Branco.</p> <ul><li>&#8220;It is a different and more powerful shock. The sudden loss of revenue is accelerating families&#8217;, companies&#8217;, and governments&#8217; leverage. Moreover, we face the uncertainties around a [Covid-19] vaccine, and the continuing tensions between the U.S. and China, a critical country for the global supply chain,&#8221; said Mr. Castello Branco.</li></ul> <hr class="wp-block-separator"/> <h2>What else you need to know today</h2> <ul><li><strong>Aviation. </strong>Brazil&#8217;s three largest airlines (Gol, Latam, Azul) have until the end of this week to accept a bailout plan presented by public and private banks — following around two months of negotiations. The proposal on the table is worth between BRL 6 and 7 billion. Of the total, 75 percent would be issued through debentures, and 25 percent through bonds with stock options.</li><li><strong>Borders.</strong> After a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Colombian Amazon, Bogota decided to shut down its triple border with Brazil and Peru on Monday. On Thursday, <a href="">military troops blocked</a> what is otherwise an imaginary line between the cities of Leticia (Colombia) and Tabatinga (Brazil). With 110 cases per 10,000 people, Leticia has proportionally 20 times more cases than capital Bogotá, and ranks fourth in total number of deaths.&nbsp;</li><li><strong>Agriculture. </strong>Brazil&#8217;s National Supply Company (Conab) predicts a 250.9-ton grain harvest for the upcoming season. While the new forecast is 0.4-percent lower than the company&#8217;s previous estimates, it would still be a record-setting harvest. Sector representatives say &#8220;there is no threat to agribusiness from the production standpoint.&#8221; However, &#8220;if urban centers go on lockdown, some isolated logistical problems may appear.&#8221; Cargo transportation usually remains unaltered during lockdowns.</li><li><strong>Argentina.</strong> After roughly two months of lockdown — which was highly restrictive but also successful in terms of reducing the spread of Covid-19 — Argentina is moving to ease social isolation measures. However, the country is planning to reopen its economy just as cases start to spike and reach new highs. Argentina counts 7,134 infections and 353 deaths, <a href="">numbers dwarfed by Brazil</a>. But daily cases have broken records in three of the last six days.

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