Statement on Moro’s resignation


Moro’s resignation is a seismic event in Brazilian politics. His departure signals a dangerous new phase for Brazil. It amounts to a “coup” against democracy because the autonomy of the federal police (and rule of law) is an essential foundation for democratic governance.

Moro’ dismissal was not, however, unexpected. His public security agenda was at odds against the president’s priorities from the start. Moro’s commitment to fighting corruption and organized crime and violent crime was not endorsed by the president. These issues threatened the president’s own family.

He was never able to push back on the president’s pro-gun and pro-repression (police violence) agenda. The chorus was mounting for his departure, not least from the Bolsonaro clan. Like Trump, everything Bolsonaro touches is tarnished.

Moro is yet another casualty of the Bolsonaro family. He was promised a “carte blanche” when he accepted the position of Minister of Justice and Public Security. But he never had autonomy and discretion, and the recent interference by Bolsonaro was the final straw.

It is hard to say what Moro’s legacy will be – it was a very short tenure. He never had sufficient support from the president to deliver his agenda. The president repeatedly disrupted the agenda with his focus on dismantling arms control and giving the police a license to kill.

To be sure, Moro made some positive contributions including strengthening SINESP (national system of crime statistics), reinforcing integrated intelligence centers around the country, launching five violence prevention pilots in municipalities, and offering crime prevention technologies to a few states.

But the truth is that Moro under-delivered. He did not spend nearly enough from the ‘national public security fund’. Instead, most spending was committed to ‘emergency’ operations with the national force. Moro cannot own the recent reductions in homicide. The downward trends started in early 2018, well before the election, much less his appointment. As Moro himself acknowledged, state and municipal violence prevention efforts played a much more significant role.

Paradoxically, his departure will probably have the most lasting impact on Brazil. It will likely tighten the noose around the president’s family. There are ongoing investigations involving supposed links to militia involving Flavio, investigations by the Supreme Court into Carlos’s alleged links to fake-new, and possible “crimes of responsibility” committed by the president that need investigation.

Moro came to this government at the top of his game, but was brought to his knees by a president who knows no shame and little commitment to democracy.

Ilona Szabo, executive director of the Igarape Institute

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