- Leandro Machado
- BBC Brazil, Sao Paulo
The change of command of the Brazilian Armed Forces announced on Tuesday was an attempt by the generals to disassociate themselves from the institutions of Jair Bolsonaro’s government, but it will not change the support and participation of the military in the president’s administration.
This is the evaluation of political analysts and specialists in the Armed Forces consulted by BBC News Brazil.
The changes take place a day after the resignation of the Minister of Defense, Fernando Azevedo e Silva, replaced by General Walter Braga Netto, who until then was in charge of the Civil House, considered the most important minister of the executive branch.
This Tuesday, it was announced that Commanders Edson Pujol (Army), Ilques Barbosa Junior (Navy) and Antonio Carlos Bermúdez (Aeronautics) left the leadership of the institutions.
The press reported that the three generals met after the resignation of Azevedo and They decided to resign in support of their colleague.
The generals would be unhappy with Bolsonaro’s alleged attempts to interfere politically with the forces, demanding greater support from the military leadership for the government and his frequent threats of a break with democracy.
For his part, Azevedo affirmed that, while he was in the ministry, he kept “the Forces as State institutions.” The speech was seen as a critique of Bolsonaro’s attempts to “politicize” the barracks.
“Extremely militarized government”
The departure of the military was seen as an act of protest over Azevedo’s dismissal.
This is the first time that three commanders of the Armed Forces have left their posts at the same time due to disagreement with the president of Brazil.
For Juliano Cortinhas, professor of International Relations at the University of Brasilia (UnB), the resignation of the commanders should not be interpreted as a “landing” of the Armed Forces of the Bolsonaro government.
“It is not because the three generals and Minister Azevedo resigned that the 6,000 soldiers, active and in reserve, will leave their government posts, their functional departments and the salaries they receive,” he adds.
“There was a disagreement on one point, but the government will continue to be extremely militarized and with the support of the Armed Forces that it has had from the beginning, “says Cortinhas
It is estimated that around 6,000 military personnel hold positions in different areas of the Bolsonaro government, such as direction of ministries and in the leadership of state companies.
One of the best known examples is that of Eduardo Pazuello, an active general in the Army, who spent ten months at the head of the Ministry of Health during the covid-19 pandemic.
Its handling, considered disastrous, stimulated the use of drugs without scientifically proven efficacy and is being investigated by omission during the hospital oxygen shortage in Manaus, in January this year.
Pazuello took office under praise for his alleged competence in logistics, but when he left the portfolio, Brazil had already recorded more than 270,000 deaths from covid-19 and vaccination against the disease was progressing at a slow pace.
Now, with the change of command of the three military forces, it is feared that the new commanders may embark on the rhetoric of break with democracy that Bolsonaro has used in recent years.
Recently, the now ex-commander Edson Pujol said that the army has no political party and would not participate in authoritarian movements of disruption.
This Tuesday, Vice President Hamilton Mourão, a general in the reserve, told the G1 news portal that there is no possibility of the Armed Forces participating in a knock.
“The change in the Armed Forces shows a distancing of these generals from the government, but it’s not a crisis“, analyzes Cortinhas.
“The support and participation of the military continues, they chose to be part of this game, they chose to participate in the government and gave support to Bolsonaro. We are living in a very worrying moment in relation to democracy,” he adds.
For Augusto Teixeira, political scientist at the Federal University of Paraíba, the Armed Forces live a moment of contradiction in relation to the government.
“At the same time that the generals say that the Armed Forces are organs of the State and not of Bolsonaro’s government, thousands of soldiers hold positions in that same government, including in important ministries. The Vice President of the Republic, Hamilton Mourão, is a general. of reserve “, analyzes.
“The departure of the generals generated an earthquake in the Armed Forces. This contradiction has spread, but I don’t think there will be a government landing,” says Teixeira.
“There’s a obvious danger of politicization of the barracks and this is a difficult trap to escape. Bolsonaro’s government will one day end, but the Armed Forces will continue, “warns the political scientist.
For his part, Lucas Pereira Rezende, a professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, agrees that the military should not leave the government and also attributes the turbulent moment to the choice of the Armed Forces to support and participate in the Bolsonaro administration.
“This type of crisis occurs when the military decides to enter politics. Today, many military personnel earn a lot of money in political positions. They are not going to leave the government,” he says.
For him, both the three commanders and former minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva must be transparent when explain why they left office.
“If there is any honor left in the uniform, the four of them should tell society the reasons why they were led to leave their posts. What was so serious about what Bolsonaro asked them to make them decide to leave? Society needs to know what happened “, concludes.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.