By Michael Royster
São Paulo, SP – After a break in the “How’s He Doing?” series, we return to what should be one of the most highly rated areas of Bolsonaro’s administration—crime fighting. The problem, however, is that the proper question is not “How’s he doing?” but “What’s he doing?”
Lamentably, the answer is “not very much.”
He started well, nominating former Lava Jato Judge Sergio Moro as one of a trio of “Super” Ministers with expanded ministries. In Minister Moro’s case, the position even has a newly expanded title: Justice and Public Safety.
This appointment had been widely expected, as Judge Moro has become the most visible symbol of the crusade designed to eliminate, or at least reduce, systemic corruption in Brazilian government, particularly the legislative and executive branches.
Moro’s first act was to publish a package of proposed legislation that contain some 12 measures designed to combat corruption. This package was largely inspired by a similar proposal made a couple of years ago by Brazil’s Public Prosecutors, but which had gained little traction in Congress.
Lamentably, Moro’s package has likewise gained little traction in Congress. First, in a tug of war, Moro proposed his package receive top priority. Unfortunately, the President of the Chamber of Deputies, supported by other Bolsonaro cabinet ministers, decided to give top priority to reform of the highly controversial social security retirement plan.
There are two reasons for putting the crime-fighting package on the back burner, one good, one bad. The good reason is that the closer we get to the 2020 elections, the less enthusiasm there is for passing a pension reform bill that will make voters unhappy. The bad reason is that there are dozens of legislators charged with or suspected of corruption, and they are in no hurry to go to jail.
So, what’s a Super Minister to do in his spare time? Well, he could try to get to the bottom of the murder of Rio city councilor Marielle Franco, which occurred more than a year ago. That would mean treading on the toes of those already on the case, who have arrested two professional hit men.
Everyone “knows” the hit was ordered, bought and paid for by members of Rio’s vicious paramilitary groups (“milítia”). Everyone suspects that whoever the masterminds are, powerful Rio de Janeiro politicians are protecting them. No one has yet found any proof of that proposition.
This has presented a potential problem for Super Minister Moro. At least one of President Bolsonaro’s sons, one of his closest advisors, has had connections with some of the best-known Carioca milítia or their families, back in the days when the milítia were, or so it appears, highly-respected members of Rio security forces.
Were Moro to become more active in investigating Rio’s militia, particularly with regard to the Marielle Franco case which has attracted international attention, it would help to promote his image as a crime fighter and public safety stalwart.
Rating: (6 out of 10, tending upward if the Marielle Franco case is solved.)