General Eduardo Villas Bôas, a commander of Brazil’s Army, published a tweet last Tuesday (3) saying the Brazilian Army “shares the eagerness of all good citizens to fight against impunity and respect the Constitution, and is aware of its mission.” He added, “in today's Brazil, we have to ask the institutions and the people, who is really thinking about what is good for the country and future generations, and who is only concerned with their own personal interests?”
On the eve of the Supreme Court’s session when the bench is going to rule on the preventive habeas corpus petition filed by ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the general’s statements sparked controversy in Brazil and abroad.
Villas Bôas’s statements were read in full by William Bonner, anchor of Brazil’s largest TV network, Rede Globo, during its most important newscast, “Jornal Nacional.” For Eugênio Aragão, an ex-minister of Justice of Brazil, Rede Globo’s editorial decision is a stealthy attempt to use the general’s statements to push its own agenda in favor of the conviction and prison of the country’s former president.
Aragão said he knows Villas Bôas well, and considers the general to be a reasonable person, responsible for separating “hotheads” from the troops, such as general Hamilton Mourão, who is outspoken about calling for a military intervention if the Supreme Court's decision today allows ex-president Lula to remain free while his criminal case is still appealable. For the former minister of Justice, Villas Bôas’s statements were the words of a commander who needs to guide his troops in times of tension.
Today (4), Brazil’s interim minister of Defense, General Joaquim Silva e Luna, said he agreed with Villas Bôas’s statement and told newspaper “O Globo” the commander’s message “is tell the population they can rest assured that the country’s institutions are here. There is no message about using force. It’s actually the opposite.”
In a press release, the president of the country's Workers’ Party (PT) Gleisi Hoffmann, along with Senator Lindbergh Farias and congressman Paulo Pimenta, said that it is not ok in a democracy for a TV channel to manipulate a statement by an Army commander. Mentioning the 1964 military coup in Brazil, they stated “Globo is trying to repeat what it did in 1964, when it encouraged the military against the legitimate government of João Goulart.”
Edition: Vivian Fernandes | Translated by: Aline Scátola | Reviewed by Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira