Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro faces his first government crisis

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A corruption scandal, derived from the alleged irregular financing of his party in 2018, generated the first crisis of Jair Bolsonaro's government

Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro faces his first government crisis

The facts are related to a complaint made weeks ago in a report published by the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, according to which the Social Liberal Party (PSL), which endorsed Bolsonaro's candidacy, would have submitted ghost nominations to obtain electoral funds irregularly.

Leer en español: Brasil: Jair Bolsonaro enfrenta la primera crisis de su gobierno

One of the people involved in the scandal is Gustavo Bebianno, then president of the PSL and until recently the general secretary of the Brazilian presidency, before President Bolsonaro decided to dismiss him. This in response to the accusations and the scandal generated around the presumed irregular financing of the party that backed him in the elections.

This has broader repercussions if we take into account that Bebianno was one of the men closest to Bolsonaro and that, with his dismissal, the current president's government is considerably affected. After what happened, Bolsonaro designated as Bebianno's successor the reserve general Floriano Peixoto, who becomes the eighth military member of the current Brazilian government.

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Repercussions for Bolsonaro

The scandal that now affects the Bolsonaro government comes after, during the presidential campaign, the current president raised as one of his flags the fight against corruption. Although in the information disclosed there is no evidence that Bolsonaro had any direct responsibility in the events, what happened will have a negative impact on a government that is just beginning and in which there is expectation and uncertainty.

On the other hand, although it is true that before his dismissal Bebianno said that despite the allegations there was no sign of a crisis within the government, this was denied after Bolsonaro's decision. Radio programa de Peru (RPP) quoted the words that Bebianno said at the time, when he assured that "there was no crisis" and that "he had spoken three times" with the president, while he was recovering  of his recent surgery in a hospital in Sao Paulo.

However, that alleged conversation was denied by Bolsonaro himself and by one of his sons, Carlos Bolsonaro, who currently serves as Councilman of Rio de Janeiro, and revealed some audio messages in which he denies that his father had spoken with Bebianno on that subject.

However, that leaves doubt whether Bolsonaro was aware of the facts denounced by Folha de Sao Paulo and whether the dismissal of Bebianno was a strategy used by him not only to try to reduce the crisis, but to prevent his name from being involved in that scandal. Especially since the same newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo revealed later that this dialogue between Bolsonaro and the then secretary general of the presidency did happen.

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In this case, other aspects must be considered, such as the inconveniences that Bebianno repeatedly expressed due to the attitude of Bolsonaro's son, who apparently intervened in government affairs and the Brazilian president himself. It is worth mentioning that, after dismissing Bebianno, Bolsonaro did not give precise explanations about it, but limited himself to announcing that decision through a video in which he thanked the dedication and commitment that the former Secretary General had during the coordination of the presidential campaign that allowed his victory in October 2018.


Likewise, we must not forget that Bebianno had specific tasks as a link between the president and other power instances, such as the congress, an aspect that is especially relevant at this time. This happens because the Brazilian government is processing a project to reform the pension and retirement system, so the crisis could affect Bolsonaro's intentions to move forward with this reform.


LatinAmerican Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "Brasil: Jair Bolsonaro enfrenta la primera crisis de su gobierno"