"No One, Not Even Former Judge and Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, is Above the Law"
Brazilianists and Brazilians Living Abroad Speak Out
May 18, 2020 --Scholars and specialists of Brazil from some of the most important universities in the United States, along with activist organizations of Brazilians living abroad, have issued a statement through the U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil (USNDB). The statement denounces former Minister of Justice Sérgio Moro, who has been praised for his claims against President Jair Bolsonaro. Upon his resignation on April 24, Moro accused President Bolsonaro of interfering in the autonomy of the Federal Police and falsifying documents to that effect. These momentous accusations came amidst the Covid-19 pandemic crisis that has been devastating Brazil in no small part due to the disastrous handling of the health crisis by President Jair Bolsonaro. While there is no dispute of President Bolsonaro’s unlawful actions, the statement denounces the dangers of forgetting Sérgio Moro’s undemocratic actions as a judge in the Car Wash operation and during his tenure as Minister of Justice.
The letter, signed by scholars of Brazil from seventy universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Chicago, and Berkeley, reflects a wide sentiment among specialists that democratic institutions in Brazil have been seriously weakened by the current government. As the judge responsible for the Car Wash operation’s cases, Sérgio Moro acted unethically and incompatibly with the position he occupied.
“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.”
The statement further condemns Moro’s tenure as Minister of Justice stating that "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.
Groups, such as the Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee in New York that spearheaded the New York city-based #cancelBolsonaro coalition against the President’s visit to receive the 2019 Man of the Year Award, have signed this statement. The USNDB, which has 1,500 members nationwide on more than two hundred college and university campuses and forty member organizations, is emphatic in the statement:
"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.”
For more information, contact:
James N. Green, Brown University
Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
National Co-Coordinators, U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil