Bolsonaro and Valdemar Costa Neto could suffer serious consequences after links to an attempted coup

Investigation showed that the party acted to finance anti-democratic actions

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
Former President Jair Bolsonaro with the president of the Liberal Party: Targets of this Thursday's operation - Beto Barata/PL


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The operation carried out by the Federal Police (PF, in Portuguese) on Thursday morning (8) to investigate a criminal organization that attempted a coup in Brazil further complicates the situation for Bolsonarist politicians and military personnel. Brazil’s Supreme Court (STF, in Portuguese) ordered the PF, with the support of the Army, to go to the Federal District and 9 other Brazilian states to carry out 33 search and seizure warrants and 4 preventive arrest warrants, among other measures.   

The address of former President Jair Bolsonaro, of the Liberal Party (PL, in Portuguese) in Rio de Janeiro, was one of the targets. The agents were searching for his passport, which was not there, but he was expected to surrender the document within 24 hours. This fact provides even more evidence that Bolsonaro and his allies plotted a coup to remain in power undemocratically. According to Cláudio Couto, a political scientist and professor at Fundação Getulio Vargas University (FGV) and São Paulo School of Business Administration (EAESP), it’s not surprising. 

“It’s not surprising given what we witnessed during Bolsonaro’s four years in power. If we wanted to go a little further, based on Bolsonaro’s political trajectory over time [we could say it] consistently praises the 1964 military dictatorship, advocates for a coup, and promotes violence as a political tool,” said the analyst.   

The Federal Police also sought to enforce 48 precautionary measures of arrest. These measures include restrictions on contact with other individuals under investigation, a travel ban that prevents him from leaving the country without surrendering his passport and suspension of public functions. Colonel Marcelo Costa Câmara and Filipe Martins, former Bolsonaro’s aides, were arrested by the PF, as well as Rafael Martins de Oliveira, an Army major.

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Conversations disclosed in the Police report show Colonel Mauro Cid, a former aide to Bolsonaro, providing guidance on demonstrations and monitoring Supreme Court Minister Alexandre de Moraes. The Federal Police also has a video of a meeting between Bolsonaro and his ministers in which they made coup-related statements.   

The meeting took place in July 2022, a few weeks before the start of the presidential election campaign. The transcript of the statements, which discussed the coup draft, appears in Moraes’ decision that triggered Thursday’s operation. With the recordings, political scientist Cláudio Couto believes those involved will hardly escape severe punishment.   

“[There was] Even a statement by General Heleno in one of these meetings saying he could infiltrate agents of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Abin, in Portuguese) into opponents’ campaign committees, Bolsonaro saying he would talk about it with him alone later. In other words, he knew what it was about. Messages from General Braga Netto also declared that he intended to stage a coup and criticized those at the Military Summit who resisted such attempts. With so much evidence, it is very difficult to imagine that these people will not suffer the sanctions they should. I imagine they will be harsh sanctions,” Cláudio Couto said.   

The professor and political scientist also talks about the Liberal Party of which the former president is a member. It was in Bolsonaro’s room in the PL building in Brasília that the PF found a coup draft during the operation. The party’s president, Valdemar Costa Neto, also targeted by police warrants on Thursday, was ultimately arrested on another charge: illegal possession of a firearm. Couto believes that, depending on the participation of Valdemar and the PL in the coup plot attempt, the organization may be seriously punished.  

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In addition to Valdemar Costa Neto, the Federal Police operation also targeted Walter Braga Netto, former Defense Minister and Bolsonaro’s running mate in 2022, Augusto Heleno, former head of the Institutional Security Office (GSI, in Portuguese), and Anderson Torres, former Minister of Justice and Public Security, with whom a coup draft was found just over a year ago. Despite so much planning and indications of military involvement in the attempted coup in the country, Cláudio Couto says the act did not materialize thanks to the reaction and intense action of different sectors of society and institutions, which continue to this day with the investigation process. 


Edited by: Lucas Estanislau