As Bolsonaro faces heat, threat of military takeover looms

New Delhi, Delhi, IndiaEdited By: Gravitas deskUpdated: Mar 31, 2021, 11:56 PM IST


Story highlights

It's no secret that the Brazilian president is a huge fan of former US president Donald Trump. Not just his politics it seems, but even his television stint

Brazil is in the middle of a twin crisis, a pandemic that is claiming more than 3,000 lives every day and an embattled president whose military chiefs have abandoned him.

President Jair Bolsonaro is losing support among his allies and faces an uphill re-election battle next year.

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There are worries that Bolsonaro will stack the army and government with loyalists.

And that if the popular vote is against him possibly even can lead to a military takeover.

Our report decodes more about this. 

It's no secret that the Brazilian president is a huge fan of former US president Donald Trump.

Not just his politics it seems, but even his television stint.

Trump's "you're fired" line from the celebrity apprentice is Bolsonaro's new favourite.

In the last year, the president has booted out three health ministers and on Monday he went on a firing spree as the foreign, defence and justice ministers were shown the door.

His chief of staff, attorney general and government secretary were also sacked. 

Bolsonaro has not explained his decision and only the change of guard at the foreign office was expected. 

Ousted minister Ernesto Araújo was a serial denier as he denied globalisation, climate change and importing vaccines against Covid-19.

The last one sealed his political fate.

Bolsonaro's plan is to fill the cabinet with his loyalists.

The president's popularity has hit rock bottom with his rhetoric on masks and lockdowns losing currency.

This reshuffle is the wiggle room he needed. 

"These changes have two fundamental objectives, which is what it seems so far. To provide a better relationship between the executive and its legislative support base to reduce the pressure that Bolsonaro has suffered in various sectors of society and also from allies in the national congress, " Creomar De Souza, founder of Dharma political risk and strategy, said. 

Bolsonaro plans to beat the Wuhan virus with politics.

His hero tried doing the same and ended up losing the White House.

But Bolsonaro still has a card to play: the military.

All three commanders of Brazil's armed forces have resigned, something that has happened for the first time in the country's history. 

The president was keen on their support but the military chiefs wanted nothing to do with politics. 

Brazil has seen this before from 1964 to 1985, a military regime ruled the country.

Since the return to democracy, the army has cultivated an apolitical image, something Bolsonaro seems intent to shred. 

He openly boasts of the army's support, sings praises of the dictatorship and circles back to his career as an army captain. 

Everyone in Brazil is thinking about it, but no one is saying it out loud.

Is military takeover on the cards?

The vice president says there are zero risks of that, but closer to elections things may change.

Bolsonaro is up for re-election next year and Brazilians are unlikely to forget how their president left them defenceless against the virus. 

More than 317,000 have lost their lives due to coronavirus and Most of them could be avoided. 

To make matters worse, a political warhorse is back in the fray.

Former president Lula da Silva has clinched a clean chit from the apex court in a corruption trial.

Opinion polls put the two leaders in a dead heat.

Bolsonaro authored the book on how not to handle a pandemic.

But, nothing in his record suggests he will not lead a military takeover.

It would be disastrous for Brazil and for Latin America. 

Two years back, Bolsonaro watched on as the Amazon Rainforests burnt and today, he is leading Brazil's democracy into arson.