It was a little more than 45 days of the most bizarre power experiment in Brazilian history, but it’s over. The Jair Bolsonaro government, as the victorious power arrangement that won at the ballot box in 2018, no longer exists. A new phase two is beginning, of a regime that is ending the period of the people’s Constitution of 1988. A military junta is taking power in a government in which it already dominated. There are four generals encapsulated in the Presidential Palace: Augusto Heleno, Hamilton Mourão, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz and Eduardo Villas Bôas. In the next few days, the Junta may incorporate General Floriano Peixoto Neto, who is slated to substitute General Secretariat Minister Gustavo Bebianno, Bolsonaro’s campaign coordinator who was recently ousted on money laundering charges.
It is not exactly a coup d’état. The coup took place in 2015-16. They were already there. Now they occupy all of the key positions in the government. They have taken the power that was left vacant by the cartoon caricatures of Bolsonaro and his sons. Captain Jair may continue living in the Presidential Palace and even play video games in his office in the Capital building. All he has to do is obey his commanding officers, the generals.
The most prominent member of the Military Junta will probably be Villas Bôas. He was the great strategist, the negotiator, the man who took the initiative to betray democracy, ordering the Supreme Court to block Lula’s freedom and impeding the ex-President’s candidacy and with this, guaranteeing the rise of a new regime. The decisive role of Villas Bôas, which should have remained in the shadows, turned public in a pathetic manner – like everything in this process – by the clumsy Jair Bolsonaro. During the January 2 inauguration ceremony for Defense Minister, General Fernando Azevedo e Silva (one more general), the now zombie President publicly mumbled, “General Vilas Boas, what we spoke about privately will remain a secret. You are one of the people responsible for me being here.”
Villas Bôas is like a post-modern Augusto Pinochet, at a time when coups are no longer mobilized with military troops, bombings or blood on the streets – for now. Nominated by Dilma, as Pinochet was nominated by Allende, he will probably now be the boss of the Military Junta.