Felipe Santa Cruz was thrust into politics while he was still in diapers. His father, Fernando Santa Cruz—a student and activist of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Action—was accused by the military dictatorship of integrating left-wing armed struggle and was disappeared by the regime when Felipe was just two years old. The charges against Mr. Santa Cruz were never proven. Now the president of the Brazilian Bar Association, Felipe Santa Cruz worked in the field of labor legislation before branching into class politics. In December, he made headlines after the Solicitor General’s Office accused him of defamation, after he called Justice Minister Sergio Moro a “gang leader” in a statement.
The accusation was made after Mr. Moro had accessed information from an inquiry into the hacking of Brazilian authorities—among which the Justice Minister was one. The practice is illegal, and Mr. Moro said he personally called some of the other public figures who had the cell phones hacked.
According to the Federal Police, these were the hackers behind the leak of instant messaging conversations indicating collusion between Mr. Moro—at the time the federal judge responsible for Operation Car Wash—and prosecutors who handled investigations and complaints filed against high-ranking politicians and businessmen, including former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Marcelo Odebrecht, the ex-CEO of construction giant Odebrecht.
At the time, Mr. Santa Cruz told newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that the cabinet minister “uses his office, annihilates the independence of the Federal Police and even acts as a gang leader by saying that he knows about the conversations of authorities who are not under investigation.”
Amid all the controversy, Mr. Santa Cruz scores the first year of Mr. Moro’s administration at the head of the Ministry of Justice as a “five out of ten” and says Brazil is learning to deal with a new kind of government that incites radicalism. “It’s a government of mostly insecure people who want to assert their position affirmatively and with little thought,” he says.
Felipe Santa Cruz sat down with The Brazilian Report for an exclusive interview, the highlights of which are as follows: