IN WHAT NATIONAL MEDIA described as “a political earthquake”, the commanders of all three branches of Brazil’s armed forces tended their resignations on Tuesday, prompting analysts to question the stability of the country. It is the first time in Brazilian history that all three senior commanders of the nation’s armed forces have resigned on the same day.
The resignations came less than 24 hours after Brazilian media reported that the country’s rightwing populist president, Jair Bolsonaro, summarily fired his Minister of Defense, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva. The general, a longtime close friend of the president, was handpicked for the post of defense minister by Bolsonaro himself soon after his election in 2018. However, he was fired on Monday after a tense meeting with the president that reportedlylasted only three minutes.
According to some reports, the minister was removed from his post after repeatedly making public statements suggesting that that the Brazilian armed forces would defend the country’s constitution, rather than protect the president. The three commanders of Brazil’s armed forces branches, Admiral Ilques Barbosa, General Edson Leal Pujol, and Lieutenant-Brigadeer Antônio Carlos Bermudez, met with the new defense minister on Tuesday and tended their resignations, during what one source described as “a dramatic and heated encounter”.
Late on Tuesday, the Brazilian Ministry of Defense confirmed that the branch heads of the armed forces had resigned, but did not provide a reason, nor did it name their replacements. Meanwhile, Brazil is in the throes of one of the world’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks, which has cost the lives of nearly 320,000 people. Over 3,500 Brazilians die every day, with numbers of infections and deaths reaching new records every 24 hours.
► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 31 March 2021