Explaining Brazil #204: A second swing at Bolsonaro

The opposition failed to remove Bolsonaro from office with last year's Covid hearings. They want a new congressional investigation to hurt him at the ballot box

The opposition to Jair Bolsonaro has mustered enough signatures to open a congressional hearings committee to investigate corruption allegations within the Education Ministry.

Milton Ribeiro, the former head of the department, was recently arrested on suspicions that he took part in a kickback scheme involving evangelical preachers. The case could further damage President Jair Bolsonaro’s image before voters, with less than 100 days to go before Brazilians hit the polls.

And members of the opposition believe the president himself could face legal action, as evidence suggests he tipped off Mr. Ribeiro about an upcoming Federal Police operation.

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  • Cedê Silva is a contributor in Brasília for The Brazilian Report. He has worked for O Antagonista, O Estado de S.Paulo, Veja BH, and YouTube channel MyNews.

This episode used music from Uppbeat. License codes: G0XY9FEONQA9JSZL, DMZHGXCX5QICYVWZ, HMZBAMXHDBNTY1IO.

Background reading:

  • A week ago, the Federal Police arrested former Education Minister Milton Ribeiro as part of an investigation into an influence-peddling scheme within the ministry. 
  • President Bolsonaro said he would “put his head [not just his neck] on the line” for his disgraced minister. After an arrest, his stance seems to have changed as he tries to shield himself from scandal ahead of the elections.
  • A day after Mr. Ribeiro was arrested, an appellate judge issued an injunction suspending the order. The ruling was met with criticism by members of the opposition, who saw a connection between the habeas corpus and the fact that the appellate judge is on a shortlist for a presidential nomination to the Superior Court of Justice — Brazil’s second-highest judicial body.
  • Wiretaps suggest President Jair Bolsonaro warned his former Education minister about an incoming police operation. The president allegedly told him about a “hunch” that a search-and-seizure operation would happen soon.

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