Report alleges ‘coup’ documents found on Bolsonaro aide’s phone

Bolsonaro aide Mauro Cid is accused of having ‘gathered documents’ to support a coup against Brazil’s President Lula.

A man in a dark suit speaks with a man in military dress uniform, with stars along his shoulders.
Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, right, talks with Mauro Cid in Brasilia, Brazil, on June 18, 2019 [File: Adriano Machado/Reuters]

Brazil’s Federal Police have released a report detailing evidence that an aide to former President Jair Bolsonaro was involved in a plan to stage a military coup, following the far-right leader’s defeat in the 2022 elections.

Released on Friday, the report alleges that the aide, Lieutenant Colonel Mauro Cid, “gathered documents with the objective of obtaining ‘legal and juridical’ support for the execution of a coup d’état”.

Those documents were recovered from Cid’s cellphone, according to the report, and they outlined potential steps to prevent the transfer of power to Bolsonaro’s successor, current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Bolsonaro’s narrow defeat had proven divisive, fuelling far-right protests and threats of violence in the weeks leading up to Lula’s inauguration. A week after Lula was sworn into office, Bolsonaro supporters converged on the Three Powers Plaza in the capital Brasilia on January 8, attacking government buildings in an apparent attempt to spark a military coup.

Friday’s report is the latest revelation to suggest that some of Bolsonaro’s inner circle were involved in opposing or disrupting the peaceful transfer of power.

Bolsonaro himself has never publicly conceded defeat, and well before the first ballot was cast, he suggested — without evidence — that the vote would be marred by fraud.

In the month after Bolsonaro’s loss, his far-right coalition sought to have electronic voting machine ballots “invalidated”, alleging “malfunctions” that ultimately were never proven.

The head of Brazil’s Superior Electoral Court, Alexandre de Moraes, ultimately threw out the coalition’s challenge, describing the effort as being in “bad faith”. The coalition was also fined $4.3m for a “total absence of any evidence”.

Nevertheless, groups on the far right have continued to reject the election results, which marked Lula’s third successful presidential run, following victories in 2002 and 2006.

The left-wing Lula has openly accused Bolsonaro of participating in coup attempts, saying in February: “I am certain that Bolsonaro actively participated in that and is still trying to participate.”

But Bolsonaro and his lawyers have maintained the former president’s innocence. Bolsonaro currently faces several investigations, including into his possible “instigation” of the January 8 attack.

Friday’s report echoes similar allegations about Anderson Torres, who formerly served as Bolsonaro’s justice minister. A police raid on Torres’s home in January revealed a draft decree that proposed steps for the “correction” of October’s election results, according to current Justice Minister Flavio Dino.

The documents allegedly recovered from Cid’s phone likewise suggested steps to overturn the election, including the declaration of a “state of siege” to restore “the democratic state of law”.

According to the documents, an “intervener” would be named in the interim to lead Brazil’s armed forces and federal security agencies.

Another step proposed in the documents was to investigate and possibly remove several Supreme Court ministers, including De Moraes, who has encouraged efforts to prosecute alleged January 8 conspirators and attackers.

De Moraes authorised the declassification of Friday’s report after portions of its contents were disclosed in Brazilian media. The magazine Veja first broke the story.

Cid currently is under arrest as police investigate his alleged participation in another scheme: to falsify COVID-19 vaccination records for Bolsonaro.

The far-right president and former army captain has vowed never to take the shot, but health reports released in February showed him listed as vaccinated, prompting yet another federal probe.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies