Bolsonaro speaks out on Flávio, pension reform, and his party

. May 31, 2019
bolsonaro veja interview

This week, President Jair Bolsonaro sat down with the editors of weekly Brazilian magazine Veja for a two-hour interview, to be published in this week’s edition. He addressed a wide range of topics, from the corruption allegations hounding his son Flávio Bolsonaro, to the events of his stabbing in September of last year.

He touched briefly on the pension reform, but also signaled the government’s plans after the approval of the measure, which include the privatization of Correios—Brazil’s state-owned postal service company.

The Brazilian Report has parsed the president’s most important declarations and presented them below, separated by topic:

</span></p> <h2>Flávio Bolsonaro</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flávio Bolsonaro, a senator and the president&#8217;s eldest son, is currently under investigation by the Prosecution Service in Rio de Janeiro, accused of having orchestrated a corruption scheme while he served as a state lawmaker in Rio. Prosecutors say they have robust evidence that Mr. Bolsonaro was involved in crimes of embezzlement, money laundering, and conspiracy, which led to the lifting of the senator&#8217;s banking and fiscal secrecy.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Speaking to </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Jair Bolsonaro said he was concerned about the investigation, stressing that &#8220;regardless of whether [Flávio] is right or wrong, you worry.&#8221; However, Mr. Bolsonaro gave his son&#8217;s version of the events and tried to push the blame onto Fabrício Queiroz, a long-time family friend and Flávio Bolsonaro&#8217;s former driver.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;I&#8217;m upset because there are deposits in [Mr. Queiroz&#8217;s] account, which nobody knew about, and he has to explain it,&#8221; said the president. &#8220;I&#8217;ve known Mr. Queiroz since 1984 … could he have done something wrong? He could have, but I&#8217;m not saying he did.&#8221;</span></p> <h2>Pension reform</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The government&#8217;s number one priority since taking office has been to pass a sweeping reform of Brazil&#8217;s bloated and expensive pension system. However, there have been issues with pushing the administration&#8217;s proposal through Congress, with lawmakers claiming the government—particularly Jair Bolsonaro—is not getting involved enough, leaving them to take all of the flak from their constituents.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Asked about what he &#8220;really thinks&#8221; about the pension reform, Jair Bolsonaro admitted he was always against it, but changed his mind once he became president. &#8220;What made me change? Reality. Brazil would become ungovernable in the next one, two, three years [without a pension reform].&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If and when the reform is approved, Mr. Bolsonaro stated that the government&#8217;s sights are firmly set on more reforms (starting with the tax system) and privatizations. The president claimed he has already given the &#8220;green light&#8221; to sell off Correios, the state-owned postal service company. &#8220;The Workers&#8217; Party destroyed the company … we have to show public opinion that there is no alternative other than selling Correios.&#8221;</span></p> <h2>Being president</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;I know it would be difficult, but not this difficult … I&#8217;ve had sleepless nights, I&#8217;ve cried a whole lot too.&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It is no secret that Jair Bolsonaro has struggled to get used to life as president. Constant squabbles with Congress and crises within his own ranks have, apparently, led the head of state to shed a few tears. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">&#8220;Some of those who decide the future of Brazil are lacking the minimum of patriotism. They&#8217;re not understanding where Brazil is going,&#8221; said Mr. Bolsonaro, not naming names but making a veiled dig at federal lawmakers. Earlier this month, the president shared an open letter on several WhatsApp groups talking about the struggles of his administration, calling Brazil “ungovernable” without the “quid pro quo shenanigans” he refuses to engage in. </span></p> <h2>Social Liberal Party</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Yesterday, Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni implied that Jair Bolsonaro might be looking to leave the Social Liberal Party (PSL), due to numerous fallouts behind the scenes. As if to fan these flames, in his interview with </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Veja</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Mr. Bolsonaro was critical of his party, saying that it &#8220;accepted anyone&#8221; last year, resulting in an extremely inexperienced bench in Congress.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">However, when asked about whether he would change party, the president resorted to a matrimonial analogy: &#8220;When we get married, we vow to love that person forever. Did I answer your question?&#8221;</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While that could sound like a pledge of loyalty, it could mean a little less when coming from Mr. Bolsonaro&#8217;s mouth, a man who has been married three times.</span></p> <h2>Olavo de Carvalho</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Jair Bolsonaro confirmed that Olavo de Carvalho, the ideological savant of the Bolsonarism movement, was responsible for appointing Ricardo Vélez-Rodriguez as the Education Minister in January. &#8220;I won&#8217;t deny it. [Mr. Carvalho] was interested and he&#8217;s a good person.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Vélez-Rodriguez&#8217;s tenure as Economy Minister was farcical, with a number of public embarrassments which ranged from lying on his resume, asking schools to film students singing the national anthem, and being given a dressing down in Congress by center-left representative Tabata Amaral.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite admitting that Olavo de Carvalho chose one of his cabinet ministers, the president played down the philosopher&#8217;s influence in the government. &#8220;He helped in my election, but I rarely ever talk to Olavo.&#8221;

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