Brazilian political pressure mounts against President-elect Bolsonaro

The congressional commission responsible for handling Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro’s potential impeachment has voted in favor of recommending charges against the president-elect, who has been in office for just over a week.

Bolsonaro’s campaign against the leftist Workers Party (PT) won a landslide victory in the Oct. 7 general election. Now that he has been elected, Bolsonaro has been accused of high crimes during his presidential campaign, including responsibility for “crimes against humanity” during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

The Brazilian Constitution’s impeachment clause allows for presidents to be suspended from office, with legal steps for removal from office taking place once prosecutors investigate a president and determine if he or she committed acts “pending trial.”

Moral and religious values

The ruling Communist Party of Brazil is one of the commission’s members, but the commission voted to recommend the attorney general file a criminal charge against Bolsonaro “for hate speech, corruption, and for taking advantage of his position” against former President Dilma Rousseff, according to Sputnik News.

“We think he [Bolsonaro] said very harsh things,” said lawyer Marco Alberto Schlickman to Globo TV. “His candidacy made political enemies of people who were in jail during the military dictatorship.”

“He went on with these statements even though he knew they could lead to his downfall,” said lawyer Luis Marquezzo de Araujo.

If the attorneys general write a recommendation on a criminal charge, the Congress would then vote on whether to request that the justice minister file a formal accusation.

During his presidential campaign, Bolsonaro stood up to Brazilian leftist protests that criticized his political affiliation with the conservative evangelical and right-wing Catholic movement.

He was also up against the opposition from billionaire Sao Paulo real estate mogul Humberto do Amaral, who accused him of being a rapist, among other charges.

After his presidential inauguration, Bolsonaro hosted 20 members of the International War Crimes Commission, a “Formal Human Rights Complaint of Mass Murder, War Crimes and Premeditated Murder” within his government. The organization, originally created as a parliamentary body, identified some of the most serious atrocities of the 1970s and 1980s in South America.

It is prohibited to discuss a political case when political parties, political figures or activists are in charge. Therefore, the formation of the War Crimes Commission gives the committee a way to make information available for Bolsonaro’s impeachment.

The commission is tasked with reviewing crimes committed during the military dictatorship to decide if they can be prosecuted. Bolsonaro was dubbed a “war criminal” by leftist legislators, who cited concerns regarding war crimes committed by members of the secret police in addition to murder charges.

The group investigating possible crimes could even request a criminal investigation against Bolsonaro and his vice president.

In 2016, Bolsonaro denied any wrongdoing in a meeting with former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“In the history of Brazil, we have not committed any military coup, we have not committed any political coup, and I think that’s a fair comparison. I don’t know of a country in the world where a government has been able to rule as long as we have,” Bolsonaro told da Silva, according to Reuters.

Bolsonaro has released statements that emphasize his moral support for Brazilians. He continues to combat leftist “fake news” against him, and he has denounced the re-election of billionaire lawmaker Eduardo Cunha.

Many suspect that Cunha paid Brazil’s former military leader Manual Roberto Costa to be the firm’s lobbyist in 2009. The strategy paid off, as Costa was later named to the Supreme Court with the highest approval rating in Brazil’s history.

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