As happens in mafia stories, pacts of silence are usually broken by those unconditional characters of the head of the «famiglia», about whom they know highly compromising information. In Brazil That constant was repeated when the alleged boss of a criminal organization, that is, J.air Bolsonaro, ended up being betrayed by someone whom he treated «like a son», his former assistant Mauro Cid who told details, during more than 20 hours of police interrogations, how a attempted coup against Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
In his condition of repentant (using the «pentiti» of the Camorra or Cosa Nostra) Cid said he had participated in a meeting held in November of last year, after Lulista’s victory in the presidential elections, during which the then president discussed a seditious plan with the heads of the Army, Navy and Aeronautics. This was, so far, the most forceful revelation against the former president whose imprisonment no longer seems impossible (although it will hardly happen in the short term) and the leadership of the Armed Forces.
So much so that shortly after the news about what the repentant lieutenant colonel confessed was known, last week there were official statements by the Army and Navy commands trying to distance themselves from the failed coup.
The tremor caused by the confession will mark the political agenda this week. On Tuesday The Parliamentary Commission of Investigations into the coup will investigate General Augusto Helenoan intense Bolsonaro supporter who in December made threatening statements against Lula and was in charge of the Institutional Security Cabinet, from which espionage was carried out against the opposition.
The congressmen of the Workers’ Party (PT) anticipated their intention to investigate Heleno about the participation of the military leadership in the meeting with the former president to prevent Lula’s inauguration as well as the support given by the Armed Forces to the authoritarian regime prevailing between 2019 and 2022.
Members of that same parliamentary commission proposed summoning the General Walter Souza Braga Netto, another soldier with strategic positions during the previous administration, and one of those who would have coordinated the coup attempt last November and December.
Another general who is in the crosshairs of the congressmen is Mauro Lourena Cid, an old friend of the former president, and father of the lieutenant colonel. who agreed to collaborate with justice.
In addition to requesting information about the coup, the parliamentarians want to know how much there is truth about the generals’ participation in a series of common crimes committed to benefit the presidential family or the government. The most notable of them, although not the most serious, was the appropriation of Arab jewelry and its illegal sale in the United States.
A case for which explanations are lacking, and which prompted comments in Parliament, was the trafficking of almost 40 kg of cocaine on the presidential plane discovered by the police in Spain in 2019. The person responsible for the safety of that aircraft was the all-powerful General Heleno, who boasted that nothing happened in the country without his knowledge.
According to the revelation of the repentant Lieutenant Colonel Cid, Bolsonaro met in November with the heads of the Army, General Marco Antonio Freire Gomes, the Navy, Admiral Almir Garnier and the head of the Aeronautics, Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Batista Júnior at the Alvorada Palace . There he proposed to them to ignore the result of the elections won by Lula on October 30 and to arrest judges of the Supreme Federal Court and the Superior Electoral Court. Several retired generals assigned to the main ministries of the presidential cabinet were also in Alvorada.
After the meeting None of the three commanders publicly repudiated the plan.. On the contrarythey were silent, They remained in their positions and signed a statement of support for the Bolsonaro supporters camped in front of the Army Headquarters in Brasiliawhere the implementation of a de facto government was bluntly defended.
For now, only part of the testimony given by former aide Mauro Cid to the police is known, which was leaked to the press. The veracity of the information seems quite plausible, at least with regard to the holding of the November conclave. It remains to be known whether the soldier omitted data or sought to launder the blame of some of the participants, such as the former head of the Army Freire Gomes.
The agreement was approved by the Supreme Court, which authorized the release of the accused and may reduce his sentence, if the authenticity of his statements is verified. The interrogations will continue.
Along with the coup plan presented to the commanders of the Armed Forces, Bolsonaro remained stationed in Alvorada, where he held frequent meetings with the military and police, mostly without an official agenda. To fuel the fury of the followers he reiterated his suspicions about a fraud, nnever recognized Lula’s victory and he avoided being at the transfer of command ceremony on January 1.
Nostalgic for the Brazilian military regime that began in 1964, admirer of Augusto Pinochet and apologist for the 2019 Bolivian coup, retired captain encouraged roadblocks launched at the beginning of November to repudiate the «fraud». And on December 12, he gave his approval to the attack against the headquarters of the Federal Police in Brasilia at the same time that Lula received the diploma of elected president.
The text on how to carry out and give a legal appearance to the coup presented by Bolsonaro, was prepared by his international advisor Filipe Martins, who was an official at the North American Embassy in Brasilia and has Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, one of the members of the powerful family clan, as godfather.
The international advisor gained prestige after facilitating contacts with the entourage of former President Donald Trump and far-right ideologue Steve Bannon. Martins also maintains a good relationship with Republican Senator Marco Rubio from the state of Florida, where Bolsonaro went into «self-exile» between the end of December and March. And from where he would have monitored the attacks on Planalto on January 8.
The coup project that had the endorsement or at least the omission of the Armed Forces. was inspired by the rebellion instigated by Republican Trump against Democrat Joe Biden on January 6, 2021. Trump denounced, then Bolsonaro imitated him, a fraud. That same January 6, 2021, and not by coincidence, Eduardo Bolsonaro was in Washington, who was received at the White House.
From Washington, the director of the NGO Brazil Office, Paulo Abrao, told this newspaper that North American legislators put a magnifying glass on the movements of the Brazilian deputy due to the suspicion that he may have had some level of participation in the events at the Capitol. Until now nothing has been proven in this regard, but there is almost a certainty that Eduardo continued to receive advice from Bannon until November of last year. The guru of the global right would have recommended burning down the country to prevent Lula from taking office.
The testimony of former aide-de-camp Cid has not ended and from Bolsonaro’s offices in Brasilia, they admit their concern about what is to come. They fear that the revelations, as long as they are documented, will end with the prison of the former ruler and his sons, the deputy Eduardo, the senator Flavio and the councilor for Rio de Janeiro, Carlos, against whom there are several open processes.
Cid could also put Michelle Bolsonaro, the former first lady, in trouble, since one of her illegal missions was to pay bills in cash and with money of unproven origin.
On August 18, shortly after Cid decided to break his silence before the police, the current Army commander, General Tomás Paiva, released a statement with «the intention of continuing the process of internal cohesion, valuing the military family.» With this he sought to strengthen the spirit of the body, and perhaps avoid more denunciations, within a corporation that participated entirely in the previous government and showed signs of affinity with the two failed coups: the one in December to prevent Lula’s inauguration. and the one in January that tried to evict him from the Planalto Palace.
Also last August there was an emergency meeting between the commanders of the three forces and President Lula. A meeting about which little information was given but which revealed the unrest in the barracks.
Is the Army safe?
In the denunciation of former aide-de-camp Cid, it was stated, according to leaks published in the media, that during the November meeting in Alvorada, the head of the Navy, Admiral Garnier, said he was willing to mobilize his troops to prevent Lula’s inauguration while The Army commander, Freire Gomes, would have rejected the uprising and warned Bolsonaro that he could order his arrest.
When the confidentiality of the summary has been lifted, it will be known if that was what was really said and if there is a way to prove his statements.
For now, the dominant press was quick to accept that version about former commander Freire Gomes as true, which was also celebrated by the Army high command and the Minister of Defense, Mucio Monteiro. This celebration is due to the fact that, according to this story, the Army as an institution cannot be branded as a coup leader.
However, this unanimity between the military authorities and the most powerful media is not a guarantee of truth. Maybe it’s the opposite.
Mafia stories teach that even the most repentant of the repentant often distorts their version of events to keep the organization of which they were or are a part safe.
In the case of Cid, an officer who is still active and would have received messages from the Army high command, it is possible that he chose to sacrifice Bolsonaro, placing on him the responsibility that everyone knows he had in the coup, and leaving except for former commander Freire Gomes. And with this the image of the Army was armored.