Former Brazil military officials say former president Bolsonaro called meetings to discuss coup plans News
Cayambe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Former Brazil military officials say former president Bolsonaro called meetings to discuss coup plans

The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil (STF) disclosed Friday the testimonies of two former high-ranking military officials who said that former president Jair Bolsonaro summoned them to discuss a potential coup to remain in power after losing the 2022 presidential elections to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The testimonies of Marco Antonio Freire Gomes, a former Army commander, and Carlos de Almeida Baptista, Jr., a former Air Force commander, were gathered by the Federal Police as part of Operation Tempus Veritatis, which is investigating the 2022 coup attempts. Their disclosure was authorized by Alexandre de Moraes, a justice of the Supreme Federal Court, following the dissemination of “incomplete news” about the case.

Freire Gomes told the Federal Police that in one of the meetings, Bolsonaro informed the three commanders of the armed forces and his then-defense minister, Paulo Sergio Nogueira, that he wanted to create a commission to investigate the certification and legality of the electoral process. Bolosnaro allegedly said that other tools could be used, such as a state of emergency decree. Freire Gomes stated that he rejected the idea from the beginning, telling Bolsonaro that such an action could lead to legal culpability for the then-president.

Baptista also told the federal police that he rejected Bolsonaro’s electoral maneuvers. He added that he believed General Freire Gomes’ denunciation was crucial in preventing Bolsonaro from trying to overturn the election results. Baptista also informed the Federal Police that Fleet Admiral Almir Garnier, former commander of the Brazilian Navy, said he would put his soldiers at Bolsonaro’s disposal.

Following the release of the testimonies of Freire Gomes and Baptista, Bolsonaro declared on Saturday that he harbored no fear of facing any trial. Bolsonaro refrained from delving into the specifics of the ongoing investigations against him, asserting instead that he was a victim of “persecution” by the political left in the country. Speaking at a campaign rally for the mayoral election in Rio de Janeiro, Bolsonaro stated, “I could have chosen to be elsewhere, but I made the deliberate choice to remain here, regardless of the challenges. I am prepared to confront any trial, provided the judges maintain impartiality.”

As part of Operation Tempus Veritatis, 33 search and seizure warrants, four preventive arrest warrants and 48 precautionary measures are being carried out. In early February, Bolsonaro was ordered to surrender his passport, remain in the country and have no contact with any of the other individuals under investigation.

Bolsonaro is also under investigation by the Supreme Court for allegedly inciting his supporters to take power by force. In November 2022, Bolsonaro’s team argued that the electronic voting machines used in the election were flawed and that the reported results could not be verified. Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) rejected Bolsonaro’s request to throw out certain votes from electronic voting machines, enough votes to overturn the outcome of the presidential election. In response to the alleged fraud, on January 8, 2023, crowds supporting Bolsonaro infiltrated and vandalized the buildings of the National Congress, the STF and the country’s presidential palace.