The coup d’état intended by Jair Bolsonaro (PL), his assistants and active and reserve military personnel described in the investigation conducted by the Federal Police and the Federal Public Ministry was not a single and coordinated action, but a few attempts with no apparent connection.
Although the meeting on July 5, 2022 – a first cousin of the equally astonishing ministerial meeting on April 22, 2020 – was a rehearsal with guidelines for an institutional rupture, the signs or evidence to try to operationalize a coup only appear in November .
Conversations between Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cid and Major Rafael Martins de Oliveira, arrested in last Thursday’s operation (8), reveal arrangements to finance demonstrations in Brasília against the electoral result.
According to the PF, Cid “confirms that the targets would be the National Congress and the Federal Supreme Court and signals that the troops would guarantee the safety of the protesters.” In Minister Alexandre de Moraes’ decision, the date of these demonstrations is not clear nor is there additional evidence to corroborate Cid’s threats.
On November 12, a meeting took place in Brasília with the presence of Cid, Oliveira and other soldiers from the Army’s Special Forces to, according to the investigation, “deal with matters related to the coup strategy”. Two days later, Major Rafael Oliveira asked Cid for money to cover the travel costs of protesters coming from Rio. They agreed that Cid would give him R$100,000.
Another active officer against whom pre-trial detention was ordered for involvement in the coup movements is Colonel Bernardo Romão Corrêa Neto, whose dialogues with Cid are the most incisive elements in preparing a rupture and trying to persuade relevant military personnel to join. The colonel is in the United States and should be escorted to Brazil.
At the time assigned to the Southern Military Command, Corrêa Neto organized a second meeting with Cid involving soldiers from the Army’s Special Forces on November 28th. In the investigators’ interpretation, the invitation to only members of the Special Forces, an elite force of the Army, would demonstrate “detailed planning to use, against the Brazilian State itself, military techniques to consummate the Coup d’Etat”.
On the evening of the same day, Corrêa Neto sent Cid a draft entitled “Letter to the Army commander from senior active officers of the Brazilian Army”, and, in the PF’s opinion, “a document probably discussed” at the meeting and “used as an instrument of pressure on the then Army commander, General Freire Gomes”.
Until then, groups of “disinformation and attacks on the electoral system” and “responsible for inciting military personnel to join the coup d’état” were in action (the names belong to the researchers). Then the “legal nucleus” enters the scene, whose central pieces are Filipe Martins, who was Bolsonaro’s special advisor, and lawyer Amauri Feres Saad.
They are the ones who, according to the PF, presented to the then president a draft decree “detailing alleged interference by the Judiciary in the Executive and [que] In the end, it ordered the arrest of several authorities, including the ministers of the Federal Supreme Court Alexandre de Moraes and Gilmar Mendes, as well as the president of the Senate Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), and finally it ordered the holding of new elections”.
Bolsonaro would have requested changes to the text of the decree, maintaining Moraes’ arrest and holding new elections.
In its opinion in favor of Martins’ preventive detention, the Attorney General’s Office states: “The Federal Police emphasizes that, once the request was met and the new version of the draft was presented, the former president would have agreed to the terms adjusted and summoned the generals and commanders of the Armed Forces, Admiral Garnier, General Freire Gomes and Brigadier Baptista Júnior, to appear at the Palácio da Alvorada, on the same day [7 de dezembro]in order to present them with the draft and pressure them to join the coup”.
General Estevam Theophilo, who at the time commanded Coter (Land Operations Command) – and was therefore part of the Army High Command – is the four-star soldier most involved in the new PF operation. Theophilo, who retired last December 1, was the target of search and seizure, as were other general officers at his level.
In his decision, Moraes reproduces a PF report according to which Theophilo, after a meeting with Bolsonaro on December 9, “would have consented to joining the coup d’état as long as the president signed the measure.” But, at least in the material known so far, there are no elements that support such an assertion – based on a dialogue between Mauro Cid and Bernardo Corrêa Neto. In another dialogue, Cid signals to commander Freire Gomes that Bolsonaro “was drafting and adjusting the decree and was already seeking support” from Teophilo.
Moraes also reproduces an excerpt from the PF report stating that “evidence already gathered indicates that it would be up to the Army Special Forces (the so-called Black Kids) to carry out the arrest of Federal Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes as soon as the presidential decree was signed”.
According to the investigation, the minister’s arrest was the responsibility of the 1st Commando Action Battalion, a unit that Cid was appointed to lead, a decision later reversed. Moraes’ decision does not provide evidence of this.
The participation of Teophilo’s assistant colonel in Coter, Cleverson Ney Magalhães, in one of the coup coordination meetings is pointed out as one of these indicative elements. There is, in this section of the report, a factual error: the PF says that Coter’s adherence would be fundamental to the coup, as it is the “military unit that has, under its administration, the largest contingent of Army troops”.
In fact, Coter does not command troops, nor does he have the power to activate them, but rather exercises operational control (guides and coordinates their preparation and employment).
There is only one dialogue by Theophilo recorded in the material. On January 2, 2023, Cid sends him news that he could be arrested, to which the general responds: ”Don’t worry, Cid. I’m going to talk to Arruda today. Nothing will happen to him.” Cid was arrested.
The other four-star general officers targeted for search and seizure in the operation were Admiral Almir Garnier (former commander of the Navy) and generals Augusto Heleno (former minister of the GSI), Walter Braga Netto (former minister of the Civil House and Defense) and Paulo Sérgio Nogueira (former Army commander and former Defense Minister).
As was already known, Garnier, according to Cid, would have made troops available to Bolsonaro in the event of a coup.
Heleno declared, at the meeting on July 5, 2022, that he spoke with the deputy director of Abin “to infiltrate agents in the electoral campaigns” and encouraged a coup before the elections. “There will be no VAR review. So, whatever has to be done has to be done before the elections. If we have to shake things up, it’s before the elections. If we have to turn the tables, it’s before the elections. (.. .) And it will reach a point where we will no longer be able to speak. We will have to act. Act against certain institutions and against certain people.”
In messages reproduced in Moraes’ decision, Braga Netto calls Freire Gomes a “shit” for resisting joining the coup.
And Paulo Sérgio, in the same meeting of July 5, says that the Electoral Transparency Commission created by the Superior Electoral Court would be “for the English to see” and an “attack on democracy” and viewed the TSE as an enemy.
“Finally”, reports the PF, “the then Minister of Defense admits that the actions of the Armed Forces to ‘guarantee transparency, security, audit conditions’ in the elections had the purpose of re-electing then-president Jair Bolsonaro”.
The generals who were targeted by the PF have not spoken out about the operation and the coup accusations. Bolsonaro, after the police action, once again stated that he is suffering “relentless persecution”, without going into details of the suspicions raised. Former advisor Filipe Martins’ defense has said that his arrest is illegal and “lacks basic requirements”.
Several other military personnel appear in the coup plots, according to the PF, with emphasis on the Army reserve colonel Marcelo Câmara (a kind of private araponga for Bolsonaro and Cid’s informant on the steps of Moraes), the captain expelled from the Army Aílton Barros, the active lieutenant colonels Sergio Ricardo Cavaliere de Medeiros and Hélio Ferreira Lima and reserve general Laércio Virgílio.