Brazil: Minister of Education announces his departure from Bolsonaro government

The situation of the Minister of Education was unsustainable after he participated in a series of anti democracy rallies

Translated by: Zoe PC, with Peoples Dispatch

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo |
weintraub bolsonaro abracinho
In the video where he announced he was stepping down, Weintraub asked for “a little hug” from the president - Reprodução/Twitter

Brazil’s Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, announced on the afternoon of Thursday June 18 that he is stepping down from the government of Jair Bolsonaro. He made the announcement through a video published on Twitter, where he is standing next to the president. Until now there is still no information about the transition period with the position.

His fall comes after the minister participated in a series of anti democracy rallies principally against the Supreme Federal Court (STF). According to sources from the Planalto Palace, his declarations irritated the government. In order to not create more friction with the STF, Bolsonaro looked for a possible “honorable exit” for the minister.

Path to his decline

His exit comes after a long process of political strain of Weintraub. His principal public criticisms came after the fateful ministers meeting on April 22, a video of which was shared on May 22, after a decision by the Supreme Court. At this moment, Weintraub called for the imprisonment of the ministers of the STF.

“If it were up to me, I would throw all of these vagabonds in prison. Beginning with the STF,” Weintraub declared.

Earlier, still in the beginning of his time as Minister of Education, on April 30, 2019, Weintraub announced cuts of 30% to the budgets of the federal universities that allow students and professors to “wreak havoc” on university campuses. One week after, with the controversy in full-swing, he shared a video of him next to Bolsonaro using chocolates to explain the budget retention, in a debaucherous tone. After criticisms, the cuts extended to all federal institutions.

Weintraub also created problems for Brazilian diplomacy. On April 4, of this year, the ex-minister published a cover of a comic book of Turma da Mônica [well-known Brazilian comic book] and made fun of China, using the letter ‘L’ instead of the ‘R’ to imitate a Chinese accent, insinuating that the Asian country had spread coronavirus to obtain economic and political advantages.

Mistakes in the ENEM (national exam)

Under the leadership of Weintraub, the National High School Exam of (ENEM) - an exam that is also used for entry to public and private universities in the country - from 2019 registered a series of errors in almost all states in Brazil, according to information from the federal government itself.

The government alleged that an error was made by the company that printed the exam. However the problem was only identified after complaints by students on social media.

Weintraub placed the blame on the “militants,” on students that “were not understanding the process” and that “did poorly” on the test, and on fake news in order to explain the series of errors.

Request for impeachment

After the errors in the ENEM, a group of 25 members of parliament from different parties filed a request for the impeachment of Weintraub, along with the Supreme Federal Court (STF) on February 5. They accused him of criminal negligence and breaking decorum and impartiality laws. 

The members of parliament also affirmed that the errors with the ENEM were also characterized by the lack of transparency when the Ministry of Education changed, at different moments, data about the errors in the tests.

Final act

The final act of Weintraub was the revocation of the decree 13, on Thursday June 18, that encouraged the allocation of quotas of spots for Black people, Indigenous people, and people with special needs in post-graduate courses of federal institutions of higher learning. The decree had been passed on May 11, 2016, during the administration of former president Dilma Rousseff.


Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas