Brazilian military’s creeping influence over the government

. Mar 02, 2018
Brazilian military's creeping influence over the government democracy The Brazilian military is raising the tone
Brazilian military's creeping influence over the government

The Brazilian military is raising the tone

During an interview this week, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso took a hit at incumbent Michel Temer. Following Temer’s decision to appoint an army general as the interim Minister of Defense, Cardoso said that “only weak administrations ask the generals for help.”

Cardoso has a point.

Since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985, the Brazilian military hasn’t enjoyed as much power in Brasília as they do now, in the waning months of the Temer administration. They have made their way into the presidential cabinet and are calling the shots in Rio de Janeiro’s federal intervention.

</p> <p>While this is <em>federal </em>intervention, <a href="">not a military</a> one, the truth is that Michel Temer gave the task of improving public safety in Rio to the army general Walter Braga Netto. In one of his first acts in office, Braga Netto named another general, Richard Nunes, as Rio’s new top security official. In practical terms, they are the ones governing the third-richest state of the federation. Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão holds no power anymore.</p> <h3>Raising the tone</h3> <p>This week, General Hamilton Mourão retired. Referred to by the top commander in Brazil’s army as having “the soul of a soldier,” Mourão was also the person responsible for saying, late last year, that a military coup was perhaps in order. During a freemasonry speech, he stated: “Either our institutions solve the political issue, and the justice system takes [politicians] involved in wrongdoings away from the public life, or we will have to impose [a solution].”</p> <p>At his farewell party, Mourão didn’t forget to celebrate the memory of the late Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. From 1970 to 1974, he was head of the Department of Information Operations &#8211; Center for Internal Defense Operations – that is, the political police during the dictatorship.</p> <p>Ustra’s name is the very <a href="">symbol</a> of the regime’s most sordid years, when arbitrary arrests became an everyday affair, as did torture and killing perpetrated by state agents. He planned, supervised, and sometimes took part in brutalizing political prisoners. His victims even included pregnant women and children.</p> <p>In 2008, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra became the first Brazilian military agent to be officially recognized by the Brazilian justice system as a “torturer,” after a lawsuit by one of his victims. During 2013 hearings of the Truth Committee that investigated crimes committed by agents of the state throughout the military regime, Ustra said that he followed orders and was fighting for democracy against terrorism. He died in October 2015, without ever paying his dues.</p> <p>After the ceremony, Mourão declared to <a href=""><em>Piauí</em></a> that he wants to lead a “military front” to help members of the Armed Forces run for public office. He promises to take part in the presidential campaign of extreme-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro, himself another groupie of known torturers.</p> <p>By promoting the military within this administration, Michel Temer is pandering to the right-wing electorate and giving the impression of tackling an endemic problem: urban violence. But the bet could prove risky: during his retirement speech, General Mourão said that Temer should be “purged from public life.”

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