BRASILIA, July 8 — Former Brazil justice minister Sergio Moro said President Jair Bolsonaro and leftist rival Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are “two extremes to be avoided,” in an interview with AFP during which he appeared to rule out his own presidential bid in 2022.
Moro, 47, made his name as a judge in leading the high-profile Car Wash corruption investigation that notably saw Lula jailed for accepting a bribe.
He later joined Bolsonaro's government but stormed out in April, accusing the president of interfering with Federal Police investigations.
Here are the main excerpts from the interview on Monday by video conference:
After your accusations against Bolsonaro, do you feel partly responsible for the political crisis in Brazil?
“My intention was not to harm the government, it was to clarify why I was resigning. After the beginning of the pandemic, there was a crisis of government credibility and growing tension with the other powers, the Federal Supreme Court and the Congress. My resignation falls within that context but it is only a part of it, I don't feel responsible (for the crisis).”
Did the president break his promise to fight corruption?
“We managed to make progress in fighting violent crime and organised crime, but not much in relation to corruption, and one of the problems — with all due respect — was the lack of more support from the (Presidential) Planalto Palace.”
What do you make of the president's more moderate stance in recent weeks?
“The change in the president's position, with less hostility and a more moderate discourse, is good for the country... for stability.”
“Unfortunately, some of the president's pronouncements created unnecessary tension, giving the country a negative image. Brazil was always a reliable democracy and the Brazilian people were always seen as very tolerant, very nice, and that image was being eroded by a hostile discourse. It's good that this is changing.”
Ten of the 23 ministers in Bolsonaro's government are military officers. How did you feel about their presence in the cabinet?
“I lived with the military (in the government) and there is no possible perspective of an authoritarian movement, all of a sudden, on the part of the Armed Forces.”
“The presence of the military in the government, of itself, is not negative. What is wrong is to try to use that presence as if they were in a position of strength that could be imposed on other powers.”
“That never came from the Armed Forces but from the mistaken discourse of the Planalto (presidential palace) itself.”
Do you see similarities between Bolsonaro and Lula?
“Both have a somewhat populist character in the formulation of public policy. The difference is that President Bolsonaro would be a right-wing populist and President Lula a left-wing populist. In a way, they are two extremes, with all due respect, that should be avoided.”
Is a presidential bid with former health minister Henrique Mandetta as running mate likely in 2022?
“With the coronavirus, the challenges of 2020 are too great for us to think about 2022. It's an absolutely unpredictable scenario.”
“During the pandemic, (Mandetta) grew a lot because he adopted a policy that transmitted a sense of calm to the population, mainly through transparency, he had a way of making people feel comfortable. But I think that neither (of us is) seriously thinking about 2022.”
“I'm going to target the private sector, I have good contacts in the academic area. I was a professor before I became a judge. My task at the moment is to reintegrate in 2020 and not think about 2022.” — AFP