• U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil

USNDB Official Statement on Sérgio Moro

Updated: Jul 3

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 quo​ with 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.

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Ninguém está acima da lei, nem mesmo Sérgio Moro

O Brasil está passando por uma devastadora crise de saúde pública, à medida que as infecções e mortes por Covid-19 aumentam diariamente a um ritmo preocupante. A resposta desastrosa do presidente Jair Bolsonaro à pandemia alarmou igualmente brasileiros e estrangeiros. Em meio a essa situação crítica, em 24 de abril de 2020 o ministro da Justiça Sérgio Moro renunciou ao cargo, acusando Bolsonaro de interferência política na Polícia Federal.

Ao fazer essa acusação contra Bolsonaro, Moro busca se apresentar como guardião do estado de direito e da democracia no Brasil. Grande parte da mídia ecoou esse retrato. Nós, acadêmicos especializados no Brasil e brasileiros residentes no exterior, abaixo assinados, pensamos que essa imagem não corresponde à trajetória de Moro.


Como juiz da Operação Lava Jato, Sérgio Moro violou regras fundamentais do devido processo legal brasileiro, atuando como parte e não como um juiz imparcial. Mensagens privadas publicadas pelo Intercept Brasil revelaram que Moro orientou o trabalho dos procuradores, principalmente contra o ex-presidente Lula. Moro também violou a privacidade da presidente Dilma, entre outras infrações graves. Essa conduta politicamente orientada teve um impacto direto nas eleições presidenciais de 2018 e abriu o caminho para a vitória de Bolsonaro.

Durante seu mandato como ministro da Justiça, Sérgio Moro nunca demonstrou nenhum desacordo com a agenda de extrema-direita de Bolsonaro. Moro propôs uma reforma da legislação penal que violava várias garantias constitucionais. Embora tivesse competência, ele não impediu a crescente violência contra os povos indígenas e tradicionais e as invasões ilegais de seus territórios. Ele não fez nada para reduzir as vendas ilegais de armas que vão parar nas mãos de milícias paramilitares. O ministro também se recusou a adotar medidas para proteger jornalistas e a liberdade de expressão no Brasil. Por dezesseis meses, Moro nunca criticou os constantes ataques de Bolsonaro à democracia, nem demonstrou qualquer desconforto com as tentativas anteriores do presidente de interferir em investigações criminais. Ao contrário, Moro solicitou mais inquéritos para proteger Bolsonaro do que outros ministros da Justiça fizeram para proteger presidentes anteriores. Em resposta às acusações de Moro, Bolsonaro declarou que seu ex-ministro propôs permanecer no cargo em troca de uma futura nomeação para o Supremo Tribunal Federal. Essas acusações mútuas levaram o Procurador-Geral da República a abrir uma investigação sobre as alegações de Moro e um grupo de advogados a denunciá-lo à Comissão de Ética Pública pela possível troca de favores com o presidente.

Embora Moro tenha apresentado críticas fortes e relevantes contra Bolsonaro em seu discurso de renúncia, elas não apagam o modo como ele violou o devido processo legal na Operação Lava Jato, nem sua cumplicidade com as políticas oficiais do governo enquanto ele o integrava.

O Brasil está enfrentando uma grave crise de saúde, combinada com turbulências políticas e econômicas. Ainda assim, pelo bem da democracia, Sérgio Moro deve ser responsabilizado por suas ações passadas. Ninguém está acima da lei.

James N. Green, Brown University* Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee*

National Co-Coordinators, U.S. Network for Democracy in Brazil Co-coordenadores, A rede nos EUA pela democracia no Brasil Abner

Abner Fco. Sótenos, University of California, San Diego Adele Nelson, The University of Texas at Austin Adolph Reed, Jr., University of Pennsylvania Alessandra Gabriel - Coletivo HuManas Alexander Main, Center for Economic and Policy Research Alfredo Saad Filho, King's College London Aline Cristiane Piva, Washington Brazil Office Advisory Board Alvaro Jarrin, College of the Holy Cross Amy Chazkel, Columbia University Ana Alakija, International Press Committee (IPC) Barbara Weinstein, New York University Beatriz de Arruda, Oxford University Ben Cowan, University of California, San Diego Benjamin Goldfrank, Seton Hall University

Brown University Committee for Democracy in Brazil1 Bruce Mannheim, University of Michigan Carlos Marichal, El Colegio de México Chris N. Lesser, University of California, Berkeley Clara E. Irazábal-Zurita, University of Missouri - Kansas City Clara E. Lida, El Colegio de México Claudia Koonz, Emeritus, Duke University Cory Mengual, University of California, Los Angeles Cristina Pinto-Bailey, Washington & Lee University David C. Carlson, Archivist, Bexar County Spanish Archives, San Antonio, TX Deborah Cohen, University of Missouri-St. Louis Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York Derek Pardue, Aarhus University (Denmark) Dora Barrancos, Universidad de Buenos Aires Douglas A. Medina, City University of New York Elena Shtromberg, University of Utah Eli Carter, University of Virginia Esther Viola Kurtz, Washington University in St. Louis Erika Helgen, Yale University Erika Robb Larkins, San Diego State University Fabio de Sa e Silva, University of Oklahoma Fernanda R. Rosa, University of Pennsylvania Georg Wink, University of Copenhagen George Yúdice, University of Miami Giácomo R. Ramos, University of Chicago Gianpaolo Baiocchi, New York University Gabriel Giorgi, New York University Giovani Rocha, University of Pennsylvania Guy P C Thomson, Emeritus, University of Warwick, Coventry Heather Williams, Pomona College Heloisa Maria Galvão, Brazilian Women's Group Howard Winant, University of California, Santa Barbara International Press Committee (IPC) Javier Uriarte, Stony Brook University Jeffrey W. Rubin, Boston University Jennifer Ashton, University of Illinois at Chicago Jennifer Roth-Gordon, University of Arizona Joel Wolfe, University of Massachusetts Amherst John L. Hammond, City University of New York John Womack Jr., emeritus, Harvard University José Antonio Piqueras, Universidad Jaume I (Spain) José Juan Pérez Meléndez, University of California, Davis Juliana Moraes, Executive Director, Washington Brazil Office Kathleen McAfee, San Francisco State University Kathryn Sanchez, University of Wisconsin, Madison Kathy Swart, Pierce College, Washington Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University Kimberly Gauderman, University of New Mexico Krista Brune, Pennsylvania State University Kristal Bivona, University of California, Los Angeles Leandro Benmergui, Purchase College Leonel Lima Ponce, Pratt Institute Lidia V. Santos, writer, emerita, Yale University, Graduate Center/CUNY Lina Britto, Northwestern University Lucas Koutsoukos Chalhoub, University of Michigan Malcolm McNee, Smith College Marcelo Paixão - The University of Texas at Austin; President of BRASA Margaret Power, Illinois Institute of Technology Maria-Aparecida Lopes, California State University, Fresno Mariana Meriqui Rodrigues, University of Florida Mariliz Romero de Aquino, attorney, California Bar Association Merle L. Bowen, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Marc Becker, Truman State University Marcelo Noah, Duke University Márcia Tiburi, Sorbonne, Paris 8 Marina Adams, National Organizer, US Network for Democracy in Brazil Marina Bedran, Princeton University Marjorie W. Bray, ​Latin American Perspectives Mauricio Acuña, Princeton University Maxine L. Margolis, University of Florida Miami Network for Democracy in Brazil Michael Amoruso, Occidental College Michael Hanchard, University of Pennsylvania Misha Klein, University of Oklahoma Mônica Raisa Schpun, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), Paris Myriam Marques, Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York Natalia de Campos, Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York Natascha Otoya, Georgetown University Nathaniel Wolfson, University of California, Berkeley Olimpia E. Rosenthal​, ​ Indiana University-Bloomington Patricia Pinho, University of California, Santa Cruz Paul Christopher Johnson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Pedro Meira Monteiro, Princeton University Philip Benson, Anatolia College, Thessaloniki, Greece Rafael Ioris, University of Denver Raimundo C. Barreto, Princeton Theological Seminary Rede Defend Democracy (Brazil) Renata Ferreira - Defend Democracy in Brazil Committee/New York Renata Moretti, Harvard University Robert W. Wilcox, Northern Kentucky University Roberto G. Varea, University of San Francisco Roger Kittleson, Williams College Roni Wine, Brown University Sarah Ann Wells, University of Wisconsin, Madison Sarah Cate, Saint Louis 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 Steven Topik, emeritus, University of California, Irvine. Sueann Caulfield, University of Michigan Tania Cypriano, Filmmaker NY/Brazil Thiago Correia Gonçalves, independent artist Tulia Falleti, University of Pennsylvania Tracy Devine Guzmán, University of Miami Van Gosse, Franklin and Marshall College W. Michael Weis, Illinois Wesleyan University William Mello, Indiana University William C. Smith​, ​Emeritus, University of Miami 1 *​Afiliação apenas para fins de identificação; Affiliation for identification purposes only.