A former minister and two evangelical pastors close to the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, were arrested for alleged corruption this Wednesday, while the leader of the extreme right refines his campaign for the October elections, in which he will seek re-election.
The complaint that led to the arrest of Milton Ribeiro, also a pastor of an evangelical church, was filed last March, when he was still Minister of Education, and accuses him of extorting mayors and demanding bribes to release resources from that office.
Bolsonaro’s first reaction, with the corroded image in the polls, which for October predict a victory for former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, was to demand that Ribeiro “account for his actions” if he is guilty, despite the fact that when the complaint arose He even said that he did not put his hands, but “his face in the fire” for him.
Now the president admitted, however, that the case could spill over into him, although he maintained that Ribeiro’s arrest “proves” that the Federal Police “acts” against crime and that the government, which has “more than three years without corruption”, does not tolerate irregularities.
A police officer leaves the Ministry of Education after a search for the corruption case involving former Minister of Education Milton Ribeiro, this Wednesday in Brasilia. Photo: EFE
The matter, in fact, happens very close to the presidential palace, to the point that the scandal was uncovered by an audio obtained by the newspaper Folha de Sao Pauloin which Ribeiro said that the “President of the Republic” himself asked that he “attend” to the pastors Gilmar Santos and Arilton Moura, now also arrested.
It was also learned that these two religious were at least thirty times in the government headquarters and that the Presidency even put the content of those visits under “secret” for “100 years”, for alleged “security” issues.
The leader of the opposition in the Senate, Randolfe Rodrigues, moved immediately and asked to set up a parliamentary commission to investigate to the Ministry of Education and other possible “businesses” that the government may have with evangelical pastors from the far-right bases that support Bolsonaro.
The current Minister of Education of Brazil, Víctor Godoy, speaks to the media this Wednesday in Brasilia. Photo: EFE
Bribes and copies of the Bible
Rodrigues cited that, in addition to the bribes, the pastors offered the municipalities copies of the Bible, whose printing would have been financed by the Ministry of Education, which had photographs of the then minister interspersed in its interior pages.
Ribeiro was the fourth occupant of the Ministry of Education since Bolsonaro took power in 2019 with the conviction that this office was key to defeating “cultural Marxism” which, in his opinion, is entrenched in schools and universities.
The scandal around Ribeiro is the latest to arise in that ministry. The pastor had taken office in July 2020 in place of the economist Carlos Alberto Decotelli, who resigned after five days due to allegations of falsehoods in his resume.
Decotelli had replaced Abraham Weintraub, a far-right agitator who had resigned a month earlier amid strong pressure from the government’s parliamentary base.
Bolsonaro’s first Minister of Education was the Colombian naturalized Brazilian philosopher Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez, who also imposed a strong ideological burden on his brief administration, which lasted three months and ended with his resignation demanded by sectors of the ruling party.