Institutions and Competition

Brazil's army sends a message

October 16, 2015

In the ten months since Dilma Rousseff was inaugurated for her second term as president Brazil has had three defense ministers.


Not what you would expect from the nation that U.S. president Barack Obama has annointed as a "major world power."


Budget cuts at key ministries mandated by Dilma's financial team have created readiness issues among the forces.


Meanwhile, the political and economic reforms that could boost Brazil's reputation with its creditors and international risk agencies have yet to take shape.


The president of the republic, the congress and the judiciary are referred to in Brazil as “the three powers.”

Now there is a fourth power. Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.


Lula now dealmaker, ringmaster and undeclared co-president

Filling the power vacuum at the Planalto Palace caused by the vulnerability of his hand-picked successor, president Dilma, Lula is now Brazil's "undeclared co-president."


In order to keep Dilma from being impeached Lula is selling off key ministerial posts to dicey allies who then turn around and disrepect him. The big budget health ministry is no longer controlled by the Worker's Party. The new minister, who is a member of the so-called "allied base" represented by the Brazilian Popular Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) fired the entire second tier level of Worker's Party deputy ministers and has renewed his alliance with the maverick president of the lower house, Eduardo Cunha, who seeks to impeach Dilma, before her supporters are able to remove him from his office.


The ministry of mines and energy, which oversees Petrobras, is also in the hands of the PMDB with no guarantees that nation's largest political party (but largely ineffective at exercising political leadership) will block efforts to impeach the president.


The PMDB is controlled by72-year old  vice president Michel Temer who makes no secret about his presidential ambitions. Temer says that he will continue to work to block efforts to impeach Dilma. But talk is cheap in Brazilian politics.


Lula for two terms as president had as vice president on his ticket Jose Alencar, a businessman and economic moderate who helped tone down the "radical" image of the Worker's Party. Alencar was a prominent industrialist and also served as a federal senator as a member of the PMDB party. But as vice president he served as a member of the Republican Party. Having a moderate on his ticket enabled Lula to build up a powerful ruling coalition in the congress. Dilma's vice president, Michel Temer, served as powerful figure in the senate, and benefited at that time from the largess of Lula's Worker's Party programs (which analysts and political scientiests and "superforecasters" in the United States would classify as "pork.")  Thus, in fundamental ways, one can argue that Temer  "owes" Lula more than he does Dilma..


Too much mendacity for a military man.

This Brazilian "political Godfather syndrome" (akin to the famous Hollywood series of Mafia films) in which Don Corleone told his son "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" is not the creed of a modern, pragmatic military man like general Villas Boas and he spoke out on Tuesday at the graduation of a group of young lieutenants who were being converted from reserve status to active duty. His statements were carried by Folha de Sao Paulo and then went viral on the internet.


Neither the presidency nor congress noted the statement of the general.


But the Brazilian publication Military and Society (Sociedad e Militar) does.  They note that the general praised the appointment of the latest defense minister Aldo Rebello, who is a member of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCB). Draw your own conclusions.


Intelligence fabrication alert.Does Brazil's communist defense minister really have ex-FSB man Luguvoy on the payroll

Military and Society seems to think so. So much in fact that their "scoop" went viral on Facebook and other social media.Government and defense officials ignored the story. But why is Brazil now part of the Lugovoy disinformation game, which has ties to London, and other troublesome issues? 


One person who might know is Marco Aurelio Garcia, president Dilma's international affairs adviser, who is said to be more powerful than the minister for external affairs (Itamaraty). Known as "top-top" or MAG (acronym) Garcia is Brazil's longtime internationalist who exiled from Brazil during the military regime and worked for the Allende government in Chile. He infiltrated back into Brazil and became a founding member of the Worker's Party.  One of his favorite sayings is "democracy is merely a farce to take power." His brief includes nations who are part of the communist and post-communist world.


Back in the mid-late 1980s when the Kremlin ambassador to Montivideo, Uruguay was igor Laptev,at least one person in his embassy was aware of Garcia, since at the time MAG was international affairs director for the Worker's Party. MAG and the Worker's Party supported the return of former urban revolutionary Jose "Pepe" Mujica as the head of the National Union of Workers (CUT) and strengthening the Broad Front political coalition. This was seen as a test as to how far Brazil could push its influence in Uruguay in the years after their military relinquished power. One vehicle used by MAG and the Soviet embassy in Uruguay to help legitimize Mujica at the time  was the Brussels-based  International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. 


Today, Mujica, no longer president of Uruguay, is a frequent speaker at Worker's Party events, sometimes travelling with Lula and president Dilma. Part of Uruguay's economic slowdown is directly linked to Brazil's inability to provide financial resources to its economy as was the case in the past. So "Pepe" is now a Brazilian icon.


Even if the Lugovoy ruse was a  "dirty trick" Top-Top would  be able to track the story  to its source. As for general Villas Boas, his job is to use the army to protect Brazil's porous land borders from illegal immigrants and contraband. There is no possibilty that he is part of the "constitutional coup" that Dilma says she fears will remove her from office.


If anybody  is really curious about Lugovoy being "on the payroll" in Brazil, Dilma is scheduled to be in Stockholm and Helsinki October 18-20 (more or less). But her press team is likely to screen out such a question. Maybe Top-Top will be part of her delegation...






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