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Brazil: Jair Bolsonaro names active-duty general as chief of staff

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro announced on his social media on Thursday that he has named four-star Army General Walter Souza Braga Netto as his new chief of staff.

Braga Netto, 63, is currently the army’s chief of staff and its second in command. He is the second active-duty general in Bolsonaro’s Cabinet after four-star Army General Luiz Eduardo Ramos, the secretary of government, and Air Force Lieutenant Marcos Pontes, Brazil’s minister of science and technology. 

Braga Netto is best known for leading a military takeover of security in Rio de Janeiro in 2018. 

He replaces Onyx Lorenzoni, a longtime Bolsonaro ally and the last politician in his Cabinet’s inner-circle. Lorenzoni will move to head the Citizenship Ministry, which handles federal welfare programs.

With the move, Bolsonaro now has nine military men in his 22-member Cabinet. That does not include Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a retired general.

Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, took office last year after winning Brazil’s presidential election on a conservative platform. He vowed to break away from traditional parties, leaving the small Social Liberal Party that nominated him for president to form his own Alliance for Brazil movement.

The chief of staff job is one of the most influential positions in Brazilian politics. However, Bolsonaro has stripped the office of several key duties, including transferring a program responsible for drawing investment for the privatization of state assets to the Economy Ministry.

  • A Brazilian soldier walks by

    Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s far-right president in quotes

    ‘Straight to the dictatorship’

    Bolsonaro has criticized the very democracy that won him the presidency. In a 1999 TV interview, he said he would shut down Congress if he ever became president. “There is no doubt: I would perform a coup on the same day. And I’m sure that at least 90 percent of the population would celebrate and applaud because [Congress] doesn’t work,” Bolsonaro said. “Let’s go straight to the dictatorship.”

  • Jair Bolsonaro and Maria do Rosario (Agencia Brasil/M. Camargo)

    Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s far-right president in quotes


    Four years ago, Bolsonaro engaged in a heated debate with Brazilian lawmaker Maria do Rosario. During the debate, he said: “I wouldn’t rape you because you don’t deserve it.” Shortly after, he defended himself, saying he wasn’t a rapist. However, he added that if he were a rapist, he wouldn’t touch do Rosario because she is “ugly.”

  • A woman wearing a female gender symbol attends a protest against the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Rio de Janeiro

    Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s far-right president in quotes

    ‘Moment of weakness’

    In a speech at Rio de Janeiro’s Hebraica Club in April 2017, Bolsonaro spoke about his family. “I have five children. Four are men, and then in a moment of weakness the fifth came out a girl,” he said.

  • A reveler at Brazil's 21st Gay Pride Parade

    Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s far-right president in quotes

    ‘Prefer my son to die’

    LGBT activists have long railed against Bolsonaro for his homophobic stance. But in a 2011 Playboy magazine interview, Bolsonaro made things personal, saying he “would be incapable of loving a homosexual son … I would prefer my son to die in an accident than show up with a mustachioed man.” In May 2002, he said that if he saw “two men kissing each other on the street” he would “beat them up.”

  • A dirty doll lies on the ground

    Jair Bolsonaro: Brazil’s far-right president in quotes

    ‘No means to control their offspring’

    Bolsonaro has often belittled impoverished communities. But in 2008, he took things a step further by suggesting poor people should be prevented from bearing children. Birth control “methods have to be provided for those who, unfortunately, are ignorant and have no means to control their offspring because we [as the upper middle class] are able to control ours.”

dv/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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