No One, Not Even Sérgio Moro, Is Above the Law
| Dear Friends of Brazil:
The US Network for Democracy in Brazil is circulating the statement below on the recent situation in Brazil, focusing on the ways in which Sérgio Moro, with the support of the mainstream media in Brazil, is crafting an image as being an intransigent defender of democracy.
We plan to circulate it widely among Brazil specialists in the United States and Europe, as well as among Brazilians living abroad and Friends of Brazil, for their support and signatures. We will then disseminate it to the Brazilian press and U.S. and European outlets.
If you would like to sign the statement, please send me your name and affiliation (for identification purposes only).
James N. Green, Brown University
Fulana de Tal, The Brazil Democracy Collective
Fulano de Tal, independent artist
If you are willing to sign, please send an email with your complete name and affiliation to: James_Green@brown.edu
A luta continua,
James N. Green
National Co-Coordinators, US Network for Democracy in Brazil
No One, Not Even Sérgio Moro, Is Above the Law
| Brazil is currently going through a devastating public health crisis as infections and deaths from Covid 19 increase daily at an alarming rate. The disastrous response by President Jair Bolsonaro to the pandemic has alarmed Brazilians and foreigners alike. In the midst of this critical situation, on April 24, 2020, Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro resigned from his office, accusing Bolsonaro of political influence in Brazil’s federal police.
In making this charge against President Bolsonaro, Moro seeks to present himself as a guardian of the rule of law and democracy in Brazil. Much of mainstream media has echoed this portrayal. We, the undersigned scholars of Brazil and Brazilians living abroad, believe that this image does not correspond to Moro’s record.
As the judge of the Operation Car Wash, Sérgio Moro violated fundamental rules of Brazilian due process, acting as a party to the procedure and not as an impartial judge. Private messages published by the Intercept Brazil revealed that Moro guided the work of the prosecutors, especially against former President Lula da Silva. Moro also violated President Rousseff’s privacy, amongst other serious infractions. This politically-oriented behavior had a direct impact on the 2018 presidential election and cleared the way for Bolsonaro’s victory.
During his term as justice minister, Sérgio Moro never showed any disagreement with Bolsonaro’s far-right agenda. Moro proposed a legal reform of the criminal code that violated several constitutional guarantees. Despite his legal powers, he did not prevent the increasing violence against indigenous and traditional peoples and illegal invasions of their territories. He did nothing to curtail illegal arm sales that go into the hands of para-military militias. The minister also refused to adopt any measures to protect journalists and the freedom of expression in Brazil.
For sixteen months, Moro never criticized Bolsonaro’s constant attacks on democracy, nor did he show any discomfort with the president’s previous attempts to interfere with criminal investigations. On the contrary, he was the Justice Minister who requested more investigations to protect Bolsonaro than others had done to protect previous presidents. In responding to Moro’s accusations, Bolsonaro declared that his former minister proposed to stay in office in exchange for a future appointment to the Federal Supreme Court. These mutual charges led the Chief of the Federal Prosecution Office to open an investigation into Moro’s allegations and a group of lawyers to denounce Sérgio Moro to the Public Ethics Commission for his presumptive quid pro quowith the president.
Although Moro leveled strong and relevant criticisms against Bolsonaro in his renunciation speech, these do not erase the ways he violated due process in the Car Wash investigation nor his complicity with official government policies while he was a member of the Bolsonaro administration.
Brazil is facing a very serious health crisis combined with political and economic turmoil. Even so, for the sake of democracy, Sérgio Moro must be held accountable for his past actions. No one is above the law.
James N. Green, Brown University[*]
Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee*
National Co-Coordinators, U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil
Alexander Main, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Aline Cristiane Piva, Washington Brazil Office Advisory Board
Alvaro Jarrin, College of the Holy Cross
Ana Alakija, International Press Committee (IPC)
Barbara Weinstein, New York University
Ben Cowan, University of California, San Diego
Brown University Committee for Democracy in Brazil
Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York
Erika Robb Larkins, San Diego State University
Fernanda R. Rosa, University of Pennsylvania
George A. Judice, University of Miami
International Press Committee (IPC)
Jeffrey W. Rubin, Boston University
Joel Wolfe, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Juliana Moraes, Executive Director, Washington Brazil Office
Krista Brune, Pennsylvania State University
Kristal Bivona, University of California, Los Angeles
Leandro Benmergui, Purchase College
Leonel Lima Ponce, Pratt Institute
Miami Network for Democracy in Brazil
Marc Becker, Truman State University
Marina Adams, National Organizer, US Network for Democracy in Brazil
Mauricio Acuña, Princeton University
Maxine L. Margolis, University of Florida
Myriam Marques, Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York
Natalia de Campos, Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York
Nathaniel Wolfson, University of California, Berkeley
Pedro Meira Monteiro, Princeton University
Rafael Ioris, University of Denver
Rede Defend Democracy (Brazil)
Roger Kittleson, Williams College
Roni Wine, Brown University
Sean T. Mitchell, Rutgers University-Newark
Sidney Chalhoub, Harvard Univerity
Stanley A. Gacek, Esquire, U.S. labor attorney, District of Columbia Bar Association
Steven F. Butterman, University of Miami
Sueann Caulfield, University of Michigan
Tracy Devine Guzmán, University of Miami
Affiliation for identification purposes only