Brazil’s former Minister of Education Milton Ribeiro arrested for trafficking in flu

The former Minister of Education of the Bolsonaro government, Milton Ribeirowas arrested for influence trafficking as part of an investigation into alleged preferential treatment in the distribution of education funds to some municipalities. Federal police carried out five more arrests and ransacked the homes and offices of 13 people. The two pastors of evangelical religious organizations are also in handcuffs, Gilmar Santos And Arilton Mouracentral figures in the judicial affair born from an investigation of the newspaper Folha de Sao Paololast March.

In particular, the newspaper had published an audio in which the Minister of Education, Milton Ribeiro, stated that he could only allocate funds from the ministry to municipalities ‘chosen’ by the two pastors, as indicated to him by the president, Jair Bolsonaro. In the recording Ribeiro stated “my priority is to serve all who are friends of Pastor Gilmar”, indicating how much this was “a Special Request that the President of the Republic told me on the question of Pastor Gilmar ”, is heard in the audio. During the investigation, many mayors and numerous local authorities confirmed that Santos and Moura had asked for bribes in exchange for Ribeiro’s release of ministerial funds.

By authorizing the investigation and ordering the federal police to initiate the investigation, the judge of the Supreme Court, Carmen Lucia, stated that “the exposed scenario of facts contrary to the law, public morality and republican seriousness imposes this criminal investigation as an inevitable legal duty of the State and constitutes an obligatory response to society, which awaits clarification and legal measures”. Following the opening of the investigation, the minister had asked for the resignation. The position of President Bolsonaro, expressly called into question in the audio, is still being examined by the Supreme Court. But it is on the political side that the head of state, engaged in the difficult campaign for re-election, risks the most.

The arrest of the former minister corrodes the president’s image and undermines the narrative that there have never been any cases of corruption in his administration. In light of the scandal of the Ministry of Education, it may not be enough for the president today to declare “I cannot be held responsible for possible cases of corruption in the ministries”. However, Bolsonaro’s distancing is clear. While at the start of the investigation he had said “I’ll put my hands on fire for Milton”, the victim of a “cowardly” act, today, after learning of the arrest, he said that Ribeiro will have to “answer for his actions” to leadership of the ministry.

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