Members of the Army leadership heard by the People’s Gazette consider the methods used in this Thursday’s (8) Federal Police operation, which targeted former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and his allies – among them 16 reserve and active service soldiers, to be abusive. But senior officials interviewed by the report stated that, despite the judicial activism and the alleged political orientation that supported the action, crimes were actually committed and must be investigated and punished.
One of the sources, who asked not to be named, summed up the climate in high-ranking military circles by saying that “the judge is wrong in his methods, but a crime possibly happened.” In other words, according to the source, one cannot relativize a crime just to attack the judge, no matter how wrong he is.
In general, the military considers the high concentration of power in the Federal Supreme Court (STF) to be abusive, the fact that minister Alexandre de Moraes acts at the same time as victim, investigator and judge, in addition to the body’s alleged leniency when dealing with crimes. of corruption.
The position adopted by the Armed Forces in relation to the operation Tempus Veritatis is to collaborate with the investigations and not offer political support to the accused soldiers, unless the authorities’ accusations prove false. Officially, the Army released the following note:
“The Army Social Communication Center informs that the Brazilian Army (EB) is monitoring the operation launched by the Federal police this Thursday morning (February 8, 2024), providing all the information necessary for the investigations conducted by that Body.”
The Minister of Defense, José Múcio, said that “it is up to the Forces to cooperate with the investigations”.
The Federal Police investigation states that military personnel who belonged to Bolsonaro’s political core had participated, alongside civilians, in tasks such as spreading allegedly false news about the fairness of the 2022 presidential elections, choosing high-ranking military personnel who should be attacked on the networks social groups for resisting “coup attacks”, encouraging protests in front of barracks and participating in a “parallel intelligence center” to support an alleged coup d’état.
Another high-ranking military source told the reporter that if the statements made by the PF, the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Supreme Court (STF) are proven, then they will be further proof that the Army is not a coup leader, as it does not have adhered to the supposed plan. The military authority also stated that this does not mean that the institution’s leadership approves the investigation methods and judicial activism involved in the case. He also said that there was no shortage of reasons for discontent and to motivate the alleged action of this investigated group, but that breaking the institutional order was not an option.
In 2022, the Army High Command (collegiate of 16 Army generals, the institution’s highest body) debated the interpretation of article 142 of the Constitution, which part of society believed was sufficient to justify military intervention in politics. There were commanders against it and others in favor of the thesis – which is a mistaken interpretation of the Constitution. There was no vote in the High Command, but after hearing positions against and in favor, the then commander, General Marco Antônio Freire Gomes, decided that military intervention could not take place. At least four members of the High Command were in favor of the intervention.
One of the Army sources interviewed by the report also explained that the troops today are more disciplined than they were in the 1960s and 1970s, which is why the decision not to adhere to any type of intervention taken by the Army commander prevailed, despite internal resistance. .
A retired general, who also asked not to be named, said that the military was already expecting strong action from the Federal Supreme Court and the Federal Police against Bolsonaro and his military core. The perception is that the operation would take place close to March 31, the anniversary of the beginning of the military regime that began in 1964. But the operation may have been brought forward due to recent lives and speeches by Bolsonaro that would have been understood by the Supreme Court as “challenging” . A similar perception was found among parliamentarians.
The sources heard by the report differ, however, regarding the level of involvement of key figures in Bolsonaro’s military core. Few doubt the involvement of retired colonels and Bolsonaro’s former aide-de-camp, Mauro Cid, in possible crimes.
But the direct involvement of the former Minister of the Institutional Security Cabinet, General Augusto Heleno Pereira, is seen as unlikely by most sources interviewed. The Federal Police use a video seized from Cid to try to blame Heleno.
The video is not presented in full, just the transcription of a sentence attributed to the general: “Whatever has to be done, has to be done before the elections. If you have to punch the table, it’s before the elections. If you have to turn the tables, it’s before the elections”, the former minister reportedly said. But it is not possible to know whether he is referring to the alleged coup or another type of action. Another unclarified point is an alleged offer by Heleno to use agents of intelligence to monitor electoral campaigns, but it is not known under what circumstances.
Another investigation that surprised military sources was the accusation against General Estevam Theóphilo Gaspar de Oliveira. He was a member of the High Command and, according to the PF, he said he would use special Army forces to arrest authorities if Bolsonaro signed a decree authorizing the intervention.
What the sources interviewed for the report also agree on is that allegations against high-ranking reserve soldiers have a very high potential to worsen the public image of the Army. The institution ends up being criticized both by part of the population that was in favor of military intervention in politics and by people who were against this possibility.
One of the top military sources told the report that those who wanted the intervention were possibly motivated by indignation, naivety, ignorance or bad faith.
Mourão says investigation attacks honor and integrity of military leaders
Some parliamentarians and retired military personnel also question the methods used in the operation launched this Thursday (8). Former vice-president and current senator, Hamilton Mourão (Republicanos-RS), who was also a member of the Army High Command, stated that the Federal Police are looking for “egg eggs” with ongoing investigations. The statement was made during a speech in the Federal Senate.
“The country is experiencing a situation of non-normality. Eternal investigations are looking for something wrong, attacking, under the justification of an alleged attempted coup d’état, the honor and integrity of military leaders who dedicated their entire lives to Brazil. Meanwhile, white-collar thieves are amnestied and common criminals terrorize the population that lives under the sign of total insecurity”, said Mourão.
“What can be seen in this wave of seizures triggered today is the intention of characterizing the population’s demonstrations as the result of a coup conspiracy, disqualifying any and all forms of protest”, stated the former vice president, who also asked that society “covers in a peaceful way and within the law these arbitrary acts that the STF has been committing”.
Through his social networks, federal deputy and lieutenant colonel Luciano Zucco (PL-RS) declared that he was “astonished and worried” by the actions authorized by Moraes. “Given the uncertainties and clouds of the moment, there is not much to say and not even much can be said. Like all Brazilians, we are astonished and worried. But we ask for everyone’s understanding and trust, as we are not inert. Let us pray for Brazil and by Brazilians”, he said.
The leader of the opposition in the Senate, senator Rogério Marinho (PL-RN), criticized the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and minister Alexandre de Moraes. “It is not possible for us to witness an investigation in which the person who is the alleged victim of this action is clearly the one conducting the investigation. We cannot imagine that there is impartiality in this process”, said Marinho, referring to Moraes.