Former cabinet member throws Bolsonaro under the bus

. Jun 21, 2019
santos cruz cabinet member bolsonaro General Santos Cruz

Six months into the Jair Bolsonaro presidency, the government is under fire once again. For the first time since his dismissal, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz gave an interview to weekly magazine Época, offering an insider’s perspective into the many problems underlying Bolsonaro’s presidency—and it appears he is not one to let bygones be bygones.

Divisional general Santos Cruz and Mr. Bolsonaro met when they were 20 years old and both serving in the army. Since then, Mr. Santos Cruz served for ten years as an Army general and commanded UN troops on missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti. After a six-month stint in Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet, where he worked as Secretary of the Government, Mr. Santos Cruz was fired by the president earlier this month. Below, we analyze the main concerns addressed by former cabinet minister with regards to the current government.

</span></p> <h2>The government’s social media use is distracting</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">General Santos Cruz insists that the Jair Bolsonaro government remains unfocused, with important topics too often being overshadowed by politicians publicly harassing their counterparts on social media. Calling the administration a &#8220;nonsense show,&#8221; he added that public attacks online offend officials and disrupt cooperation in government. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">During his time in office, Mr. Santos Cruz was subject to numerous verbal attacks by Olavo de Carvalho, a Brazilian philosopher who is held in high regard by Jair Bolsonaro and his cronies. On one of his now-famous <a href="">Twitter</a> rants, Mr. Carvalho called the divisional general &#8220;a turd in a suit.&#8221; </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In response to the numerous attacks, Mr. Santos Cruz said Olavo de Carvalho had a “hysterical personality” and added that with so many pressing issues, the Brazilian government shouldn’t be focusing on social media feuds. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“If you have something against someone else, tell them in person. Technological resources are making people forget that the best way to communicate, especially with a public figure, is not in public,” he told </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">Época.</span></i></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">On Thursday, the Bolsonaro clan was once again criticized for its social media use. The president&#8217;s son, Carlos Bolsonaro, received a five-day suspension from Facebook for violating the website&#8217;s terms of use, by publishing a picture of an armed man. The post followed the Senate’s rejection of President Bolsonaro’s stance on looser gun control laws.</span></p> <h2>Brazil’s power imbalance</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The former cabinet minister also criticized the concentration of power in Brazil&#8217;s Executive branch, despite its limited capabilities. Mr. Santos Cruz highlighted the need to increase the use of the Judiciary and Legislative branches to make up for the Executive&#8217;s shortcomings.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many decisions must be solved in Brasília due to the capital’s centralization of power. This excessive concentration of political activity attracts money to the city, when it should be distributed across regions where the average citizen lives, said Mr. Santos Cruz.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The mayor of someplace in the middle of nowhere has to come [to Brasília] to ask for anything. To me, things can be centralized [in the capital] because the lives of Brazilian citizens don’t happen in Brasília, they happen in the municipalities,” remarked the divisional general. </span></p> <h2>Bolsonaro’s mismanagement of public servants</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mr. Santos Cruz said that public servants in the bottom of the political food chain are key to governance, and that mismanagement from top-tier politicians is to blame for the government’s systematic ineffectiveness. Mr. Santos Cruz emphasized that Brazilian public servants are capable, but results are undercut by bad leadership.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“You can’t forget that the most important people aren’t the ones above, but the ones at the base of any organization. You can change a president every four years. A minister— you can change him anytime you want. Remove a [public servant] from the bottom and you’ll see that things will go wrong,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite his years of friendship with Jair Bolsonaro, Mr. Santos Cruz says his dismissal was not personal, but a substitution for better functioning of the government. Despite his many criticisms of the current administration, he hopes Mr. Bolsonaro will be successful. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“My wish is for the government to work,” said Mr. Santos Cruz.

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Martha Castro

Martha Castro worked as an intern at The Brazilian Report in 2019. She is a Brazilian journalism and political science student at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

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