Brazil | Bolsonaro family embarrassed by illegal espionage case

Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday came to the defense of one of his sons, who is implicated in illegal espionage activities which made it possible to target, according to the federal police, several of the political opponents of the former -Brazilian president.

What there is to know

The federal police carried out a series of searches to understand who benefited from information illegally collected by a “parallel structure” within Brazilian intelligence.

These interventions notably targeted one of Jair Bolsonaro’s sons, Carlos, as well as a former intelligence chief, close to the ex-president.

Jair Bolsonaro is not directly implicated, but risks being splashed by the affair since the authorities affirm that illegal espionage would have made it possible to target his adversaries.

The politician indicated that the ongoing investigation into this subject testifies to the government’s desire to “persecute” him, an allegation immediately dismissed by the government in power.

“This is nonsense,” said the current head of state, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, noting that the executive has “no control” over the activities of the police.

Police officers carried out searches on Monday targeting several properties linked to Carlos Bolsonaro in the hope of identifying “the main beneficiaries” of information illegally obtained within the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), through “clandestine actions » carried out from 2019 to 2022.


Carlos Bolsonaro goes to the federal police headquarters in Rio de Janeiro.

They notably searched a residence located in a seaside town where Jair Bolsonaro was staying with three of his sons, including Carlos, who has the reputation of being one of his fiercest defenders.

Searches at the home of the former intelligence chief

Last week, the federal police carried out another series of searches in connection with this affair, targeting Alexandre Ramagem, who headed the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.

Mr. Ramagem, who is now an MP, also cried persecution, maintaining that the aim of the intervention was to derail his political career.

Guilherme Casarões, political analyst at the Brazilian Getulio Vargas Foundation, notes that the former head of the intelligence services planned to run this year, with the endorsement of Jair Bolsonaro, as a candidate for mayor of Rio de Janeiro, an important political springboard.


Alexandre Ramagem, deputy of Rio de Janeiro and former director general of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency

The scenario seems less likely, he said, in light of the seriousness of the information put forward by the federal police to justify the searches.

Also targeted by the investigation, ABIN number 2, Alessandro Moretti, was dismissed on Tuesday by President Lula da Silva.

Rumors regarding the creation of a cell operating clandestinely within the ABIN had existed for a long time. But no one had imagined that its operations could have such a scale, notes Mr. Casarões, noting that software from Israel allowing the geolocation of phones would have been activated more than 30,000 times without judicial authorization.

We do not know exactly how many people were targeted, but we can imagine, given the number of activations noted, that almost all prominent critics of the Jair Bolsonaro regime – journalists, elected officials, members of civil society – are concerned.

Guilherme Casarões, political analyst at the Brazilian Getulio Vargas Foundation

Among the few people identified as victims is the president of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE), Alexandre de Moraes, who is also a judge of the Supreme Court.

The TSE significantly weakened the ex-president last year by prohibiting him from running in an election before 2030. The magistrates explained their decision by noting that Jair Bolsonaro had tried to sow doubts about the effectiveness of the electoral system Brazilian in front of foreign dignitaries before the vote where he was defeated by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.


Bolsonaro supporters invade the Planalto presidential palace, in the heart of the Brazilian capital Brasília, during the attempted coup on January 8, 2023.

The politician faces several investigations, including for his alleged role in the assault carried out by thousands of his supporters against several government buildings in Brasília on January 8, 2023.

He is also suspected of having attempted, through collaborators, to sell high-value jewelry that had been given to him as a gift as part of his duties.


Mr. Casarões believes that the illegal espionage case will not change much in the politician’s standing with his supporters if he ends up, here too, formally finding himself in the crosshairs of investigators.

“Jair Bolsonaro is made of Teflon. Nothing sticks,” notes the analyst, drawing a parallel with former US President Donald Trump, who remains the most popular Republican candidate despite the accumulation of criminal charges against him.

Jean Daudelin, a Brazil specialist affiliated with Carleton University, thinks that the ex-president “has made too many enemies” on both the left and the right of the political spectrum and will have difficulty getting back into line. saddle politically, whatever happens with the ongoing investigations.

The most recent polls indicate that the population’s level of satisfaction with President Lula da Silva remains stable at around 40%, but remains significantly lower than that from which he enjoyed during his first mandates at the head of the country from 2003 to 2011.

Mr. Daudelin notes that the right remains in control in Parliament and limits the ability of the left-wing government in power to act because many elected officials seek to monetize their support by demanding considerable “patronage” sums.

The desire of the Minister of the Economy, Fernando Haddad, to achieve a balanced budget also acts as a brake, notes the professor.

“Lula promised a lot of things, but he risks having difficulty achieving his objectives,” he warns.

With Agence France-Presse


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