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Friday, April 6, 2018

Brazil: the military burst into the Lula case

Por MRod

The head of the Armed Forces, hailed by three generals, sends messages on Twitter on the eve of the decision of the Supreme on the former president. The Brazilian Army had already come in recent months showing its interest to enter fully into the political debate, increasingly heated in the country, to the passivity of the center-right government of President Michel Temer.

Brazil is today a country that looks forward to knowing if former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will end up in jail. The Army leadership has entered fully into the pressure campaign to the Supreme Federal Court, which on Wednesday must decide on Lula's appeal against the prison order issued by the judges that last January sentenced him to 12 years for corruption. While thousands of people, summoned by right-wing movements, demonstrated on Tuesday night in 50 cities in the country to demand the imprisonment of the former president, the commander-in-chief of the Army, Eduardo Villas-Boas, launched a message on Twitter: "I assure that the Brazilian Army judges share the desire of all citizens to repudiate impunity and respect the Constitution, in the same way that it remains attentive to its institutional missions".

Shortly after, at least three generals joined in exalted tone to the statement of their boss. "I have the sword next to me, the chair equipped, the horse ready and I await your orders!!", responded, also on Twitter, General Paulo Chagas. In the same way, the martial voices of two other members of the military leadership emerged. "COMANDANTE!!! We are together in the same trench," wrote General Miotto. "We are together, commander," General Freitas teased. Hours before, another general, this in reserve, Luis Gonzaga Schroeder, had declared to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo that if Lula is not sent to jail, "the duty of the Armed Forces is to restore order."

The messages of the military caused a commotion in the social networks. The words "coup" and "dictatorship" reverberated immediately. But the speeches of the generals were also loud, especially among the legion of followers of the ultra-rightist leader and presidential candidate in October, Jair Bolsonaro, who are very active in the networks. The turmoil in the barracks was also palpable and not always in support of the heads of the Army, as showed the internal bulletin sent on Wednesday morning to the whole Air Force by its commander, Nivaldo Luiz Rosado.

In a tone very different from that of the generals, Rosado warned that Brazilian society is "polarized" and demanded that its subordinates respect the Constitution "without passion to the point of putting personal convictions above institutions." "Trying to impose our convictions or those of others is what we least need at this moment," warned the Air Force chief.