Unaccustomed to any type of spotlight since joining the Supreme Federal Court (STF) in 2011, Rosa Weber, the Chief Justice, decided to deliver a speech last week. The justice from Rio Grande do Sul compared the acts of vandalism that occurred on January 8th in Brasília to Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, which led to the United States’ entry into World War II.
The kamikaze bombing in Hawaii left over 2,400 dead, hundreds injured, and a vast trail of destruction, particularly to the American fleet. The episode is known as the ‘Day of Infamy’ and has been extensively revisited in books, military strategy manuals, and cinema.
“President Franklin Roosevelt, on December 8, 1941, while addressing the American Congress in response to the Japanese aerial attack launched on the previous day against the North American Naval Forces in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, declared that the date, December 7, 1941, due to the treacherous nature of the aggression, would live in infamy forever. For us, January 8, 2023, will forever be the Day of Infamy. And we will not let it be forgotten, in defense of constitutional democracy and the Democratic Rule of Law.”
Investigations into the authorities’ responsibility on January 8th are stalled because the Lula government has no interest in disclosing the untold part of the story. The shielding operation is led by Flávio Dino, Minister of Justice and Public Security, who controls the Federal Police. Of what little is known about the hidden side, the then-general of the Institutional Security Cabinet (GSI), Gonçalves Dias, mingled among the protesters and was promptly dismissed – to this day, the government prevents his testimony at the Parliamentary Inquiry Commission (CPMI) in the National Congress. The images were obtained by CNN, as otherwise, they would remain concealed.
Rosa Weber delivered her speech during the National Meeting of the Association of Lawyers for Democracy, Justice, and Citizenship (ADJC). She was honored by the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), which has not yet issued a statement against the arbitrary – and in some cases, cruel – actions of the Supreme Court towards the detainees. Dozens of lawyers complain about the lack of access to case files against mothers, grandmothers, and fathers who didn’t throw a single stone. A significant number of these individuals, around 1,500 in total, will still be judged collectively. The defense fears that innocent people will be convicted simply for having left their homes that afternoon, heading towards the Ministries Esplanade with a Brazilian flag in hand.
The West has already published six cover stories about January 8th. All of them make it clear that there is strong condemnation of any type of vandalism, whether directed at public or private property, and advocate for strict punishment for those who crossed that line. However, it is evident that there was no ongoing coup d’état in the country and that there were serious violations of the Constitution and the Criminal Procedure Code in the conduct of the investigations.
Unlike what Rosa Weber stated about Pearl Harbor – or any scenes of war, terrorism, or coup – there isn’t a single image of a rifle or military armored vehicles. On the contrary, a man took advantage of the crowd to make some money selling cotton candy – probably due to the massive presence of children.
Why did the discreet Rosa Weber decide to bring January 8th to the headlines? Since last week, there has been an operation to contain the fire caused by Luís Roberto Barroso. Influenced by the audience at the National Union of Students (UNE) and the PCdoB militancy, he climbed the podium, loosened his tie, and – microphone in hand – uttered a phrase that laid bare what happened in Brazil: “We defeated ‘bolsonarism’.”
On Wednesday, the 19th, the opposition filed an impeachment request against Barroso. The document was signed by members of Congress. Law No. 1079/50, known as the Impeachment Law, prohibits Supreme Court justices from engaging in political-party activities. The UNE congress, besides being political, is partisan because the organization is led by the PCdoB (read report in this edition).
The case will be analyzed by the President of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG). Since 2019, Pacheco and his predecessor in the position, Davi Alcolumbre (UB-AP), have received 80 representations against Supreme Court members and have not taken any action. There is no deadline for doing so either.
In addition to Rosa’s statement, there is the exhaustive coverage by the mainstream media about the alleged assault involving Minister Alexandre de Moraes in Italy. According to the media, Alexandre Barci de Moraes, the minister’s son, was physically assaulted by Brazilians while defending his father from insults. So far, no images from Rome Airport have been made available.
Upon arriving at Guarulhos (SP), the Brazilian family stated in their testimony to the Federal Police that there was a “confrontation,” but without physical aggression. They are facing an inquiry regarding defamation, harassment, and contempt.
Minister Flávio Dino rushed to defend Moraes. The Federal Police went to the family’s home in the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste, in the interior of São Paulo. They seized computers and cell phones in an unprecedented search and seizure operation for alleged “crime against honor” of Moraes.
This move shocked lawyers because, in the legal field, this kind of invasion – such as searching for Bolsonaro’s vaccination card and confiscating cell phones – is referred to as a “fishing expedition,” something abusive and that has been deemed illegal by the Superior Court of Justice in actions by the Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to constitutional experts, there was no reason to send the police to the family’s address.
Simultaneously, also on a trip through Europe, Lula referred to the people involved in the altercation as “animals” and reacted with a hate-filled speech. “These people who have been reborn in the neo-fascism put into practice in Brazil need to be eradicated. We will be very tough with these people so that they learn to be civilized,” he said. However, the PT politician did not comment on Barroso’s statement.
The episode in Rome also sheds light on the intense itinerary of international trips taken by the Supreme Court justices, where they end up commenting on national issues. In the case of Italy, Moraes traveled at the invitation of Alves Faria University Center (Unialfa), a law school in Goiânia, to give a lecture in Portuguese at the historic University of Siena. This information was disclosed by BandNews.
The José Alves Group, which controls Unialfa, is the owner of Vitamedic, a manufacturer of ivermectin, which was condemned by the court in Rio Grande do Sul for “health damages.” Two years ago, Moraes ordered the opening of a new investigation against former President Jair Bolsonaro for allegedly spreading false information about COVID-19.
At the time, Bolsonaro associated COVID-19 vaccination with the risk of developing AIDS. He made these statements in videos posted on social media, which were later taken down.
The condemnation imposed on Vitamedic is at the trial court level, which means that the process could eventually reach the Supreme Federal Court in the appellate phase.
The beautiful city of Siena, in the Tuscany region, was not the only international destination for the justices this month. Moraes and Gilmar Mendes – who organized an event in Lisbon – were also in Valladolid, Spain.
It was during one of these foreign delegations that Luís Roberto Barroso felt annoyed by a Brazilian on the streets of New York and responded, “You lost, dude, don’t bother.” The question remains whether, this time, the Senate will exercise its institutional role or if there are indeed no limits to the supreme powers. To this day, a folkloric phrase circulates in the halls of the National Congress when the nomination of a new name for scrutiny by the Supreme Federal Court comes up: “Some ministers believe they are gods.” Currently, they are certain of it.