Bolsonaro’s wife celebrates and prays after the arrival of a conservative to the Supreme Court of Brazil | International

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Michelle Bolsonaro greets André Mendonça after his approval by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil.
Michelle Bolsonaro greets André Mendonça after his approval by the Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil.Play / Instagram

On the social networks of Brazil a video is broadcast in which the first lady Michelle Bolsonaro celebrates the approval of the lawyer and pastor André Mendonça as the new judge of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) of Brazil, last Monday, November 29. Along with Mendonça and other figures linked to the Government of Jair Bolsonaro, Michelle excitedly celebrates the confirmation of her name in the Senate. Shouting “glory to God” and “hallelujah”, the first lady jumps, prays and cries as she embraces the former lawyer and other people present in the room where they awaited the end of the vote in the Senate.

Mendonça was chosen in July by Bolsonaro to be his “terribly evangelical” man in the Supreme Court. But the approval of the Presbyterian pastor dragged on for five months in the Senate, because the chairman of the commission in charge of examining him boycotted the indication. The confirmation of Mendonça in a secret ballot, by 47 favorable votes and 32 against – he needed at least 41 of a total of 81 – was received as a victory for the evangelical parliamentary bloc, which made a strong articulation with the senators to approve it.

Michelle’s celebration received criticism on social media from those who see it as a symptom of the interference of religion in Brazilian public life. Some also showed their fright and their dissatisfaction with the images. This is because, when confirming his indication to take the witness of the retired judge Marco Aurélio Mello in the STF, Mendonça himself described the moment as “a step for a man, a leap for evangelicals.” In his time as Minister of Justice, Mendonça used the National Security Law, an inheritance from the military regime (1964-85), to persecute government opponents.

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The new member of the STF will live a litmus test already in his first months as part of the supreme court, when he has to give the tiebreaker vote in a trial that analyzes whether transsexual and transvestite inmates should have the right to choose whether they wish to serve their sentences in male or female prisons. During the debate on his indication in the Senate, he promised to defend the rights conquered by the LGTBQIA + community and assured that he would put aside his religious principles to, for example, vote in favor of equal civil union.

But both Bolsonaro and religious followers and even progressive sectors saw in the criticisms of the video evidence of prejudice and religious intolerance against evangelicals – often seen as a population that thinks and acts in a homogeneous way on issues of politics and behavior. Some posts on the internet also ridiculed the celebration of the first lady. One of the authorities who spoke out on the matter was the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the social democrat Eduardo Paes. Although he is not a political ally of the president, Paes lamented the number of publications on social networks “spouting prejudice against the faith of others. They are the same people who live complaining of discrimination. My solidarity to the first lady. May she always express her faith freely, “said the mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

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The images also show that Mendonça’s indication was relevant to the president’s inner circle, including his family members. The issue goes beyond the religious factor, once Bolsonaro is investigated by the Supreme Court in the context of a file on the political use of false news, and a few weeks ago a congressional commission attributed nine crimes to him and asked that he be tried by the STF. Having a faithful ally in the Supreme Court is important for the Bolsonaro clan. In addition to the 2,000 files that Mendonça will inherit from Marco Aurélio Mello, some issues are sensitive to the president. Among them is a request for an investigation against Michelle Bolsonaro for the checks entered in her name by Fabricio Queiroz, a former adviser to the presidential family who was appointed by the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office as the operator of a salary distribution scheme for officials of the office of the then state deputy Flávio Bolsonaro, son of the president and today a senator for Rio de Janeiro.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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