Brazil
Politically cornered Bolsonaro attacks rival Governors of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo
Brazil's president praised a raid on Rio's governor, a possible rival in the upcoming elections.

After last weekend, when the echoes of the Brazilian president's meeting with his ministers (where harsh words and insults abounded) resounded loudly, Jair Bolsonaro launched the counterattack. Yesterday he met with the Minister of Defense, Fernando Azevedo, and the heads of the Army, Navy and Aeronautics.

His meetings did not stop there: with no prior notice, he visited Attorney General Antonio Aras, the one in charge of authorizing, or rejecting, the process against the Río de Janeiro Governor. Today, the second step was revealed. This time at the hands of the Federal Police of Rio de Janeiro, whose chief Rolando Alexandre de Souza ordered a raid on the Laranjeiras Palace, the official residence of Governor Wilson Witzel.

The operation against the Witzel took place on Tuesday morning. It was a spectacular event. Federal police officers seized documents, computers, and cell phones. The order came from the Río de Janeiro Superior Court of Justice, which is investigating the governor on a fraud case.

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Bolsonaro had already shown a special interest in the case. It so happens that Witzel, who came to power largely by joining the Bolsonaro movement, became his public enemy some time ago. The governor could be a threat to Bolsonaro's reelection in 2022, since in his opinion "Witzel wants to be the next Brazilian president".

This morning the president was pleased with Operation Placebo, as the Federal Police called it. At the very least, it must be said that it is tailor-made for him. An act of corruption, allegedly committed by one of his main adversaries, appeared out of the blue on the political scene. The accusation refers to the crime of embezzlement committed by alleged associates of Witzel's wife, who set up and managed field hospitals.

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel.

Witzel defended himself: "I have no involvement whatsoever in any kind of irregularity. I am surprised and outraged by the absolutely clear fact that congressmen close to Bolsonaro have announced on social media in the last few days the operation of the Federal Police against me". In this way, according to the governor "the intervention announced by the president of the Republic has been demonstrated and made official". He referred to Bolsonaro's stated wish to appoint new police chiefs, both nationally and in the state of Rio.

One consequence of Bolsonaro's celebration of Operation Placebo is the split with the group of governors (27 in total) that occurred just five days after a teleconference he held with them (last Thursday). In that meeting, the president promised to respect a "truce" and send the states some 10 billion dollars to fight Covid-19. According to Witzel, the counterattack that had him as a victim, is also "going to happen with other governors considered enemies". Among them Joao Doria, governor of São Paulo.

It also became clear that attacks and counterattacks are far from over. Senator Mayor Olimpio of the Social Liberal Party, who fervently supported Bolsonaro in the 2018 elections, spoke out today in a direct and incisive manner against the president. Elected with a record of more than 9 million votes, Olimpio declared that members of the military police are pressuring him to "maintain a blind loyalty to the president. They even called me a traitor. But I am not. It is the president who is committing misconduct".

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The head of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that "the people are expecting us, who have a public mandate, to be aware of the role to be played in the search for solutions to confront the virus that kills". He called for "maturity to maintain a constructive dialogue between institutions and with society. He defended a "respectful relationship between the powers that be" and called for "the pacification of the spirits" in the face of the size of the pandemic, which is harshly hitting Brazil.

But things took a different turn on Wednesday, when the Federal Police raided the homes and offices of congressmen, bloggers and businessmen who are friends of the president. It was by order of Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes, who oversees investigations into the attacks, threats on social media, and Fake News that were launched against the high court, allegedly organized by a so-called "cabinet of hate" that could be coordinated by Bolsonaro's son.

"Enough of this shit" was the expression that the president used against the Supreme Federal Court (STF), in a new episode of the war, already explicit, that he has with the Supreme Court of Brazil.

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