Brazil opposition leaders challenge presidential pardon granted to Daniel Silveira

Brazil’s opposition party Friday challenged President Jair Bolsonaro’s pardon of his political ally, Daniel Silveira, as unconstitutional. On Thursday, Bolsonaro pardoned Silveira who had been sentenced to 8 years and 9 months in prison for hate speech and “crimes of threat to the Democratic State of Law.”

The Sustainability Network Party or Rede Sustentabilidade, Brazil’s opposition party, has filed a suit in court claiming that this pardon is unconstitutional. The party has argued that the constitution was made to serve the nation at large and not to promote Bolsonaro’s personal interests.

Silveira, a former congressman, was arrested last year in February after he released a video online supporting the 1964-1985 military dictatorship and stated that the court justices deserved a beating. His pardon has caused confusion amongst the people given that it was announced merely a day after the court pronounced its verdict.

This is not the first time Bolsonaro has duelled with the judiciary. He maintains that the judiciary is biased against him and the pardon has only served to increase tensions between the executive and the judiciary. In an election year, this is especially disconcerting.

Despite the criticism against him, Bolsonaro went on to state in an address that he pardoned Silveira in the name of freedom of expression. He further claimed that the Supreme Court had overstepped its authority.

“Bolsonaro has just transformed the institution of pardons into an institutional disgrace,” Brazilian politician Ciro Gomes said while expressing disappointment in Bolsonaro.