President Jair Bolsonaro has passed on to the South African government the name of the former mayor of Rio de Janeiro Marcelo Crivella (Republicans) so that he can assume the post of Brazilian ambassador to the country.
The information, revealed by Correio Braziliense and confirmed by Folha by a member of the government, already worries diplomats, who see in the appointment a maneuver for the benefit of the president.
Crivella’s name still depends on the approval of the South African government, in a process that takes place in secrecy. Therefore, there is no official confirmation before the response from the host country. If South Africa responds positively, the appointment is formalized and the former mayor must pass a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The chair of the committee, Senator Kátia Abreu (PP-TO), has informed that she will only comment on the appointment when it is formalized.
Crivella was arrested on December 22 on charges of being the leader of a suspected criminal group that allegedly set up a mayoral corruption scheme. He even spent one night in Benfica prison in northern Rio, but was allowed to serve under house arrest the next day.
After the complaint, Crivella was fired from town hall until the end of his term. Candidate for re-election with the support of Bolsonaro, he lost the race to Eduardo Paes (DEM). In February, Judge Paula Fernandes Machado, head of the office at the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice, issued a release permit to the former mayor. According to the court, the magistrate complied with the decision rendered the day before by the Minister of the STF (Federal Supreme Court) Gilmar Mendes.
Bishop licensed to Universal do Reino de Deus (IURD) and gospel singer, Crivella is the son of Eris Bezerra Crivella, sister of church leader Edir Macedo, who is linked to the Republican Party and controls TV Record. In addition to being mayor, he was also a senator and Minister of Fisheries under the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT).
In the 1990s, Crivella lived in South Africa, where he led the internationalization of IURD. The church has been in the country since 1992 and today operates in more than 130 countries on five continents. In the only country where a licensed bishop can become an ambassador, there are around 300 temples.
Universal is facing problems on the African continent, especially in Angola, where since the end of 2019 there has been a rupture, with the rebellion of Angolan pastors against the Brazilian leadership of the church.
Rebel clerics have taken control of IURD sites in the country and accused him of tax evasion, among other irregularities. The last chapter of the crisis occurred in mid-May, when 34 Brazilians linked to Universal’s missionary work received notification from authorities in Luanda that they would be deported. Nine embarked for Brazil on May 11.
On this occasion, Foreign Minister Carlos França summoned the Angolan Ambassador to Brasilia, Florêncio Mariano da Conceição e Almeida, to ask for explanations, a gesture which, in diplomatic language, indicates discontent. Angola’s action angered evangelical parliamentarians, who began to mobilize the Bolsonaro government. The message was given at a meeting of the Evangelical Parliamentary Front with França in Itamaraty on May 17.
At the meeting, the foreign minister said he would pay close attention to the issue, but Brazil cannot get involved in legal disputes in Angola over control of the temples.
Before, the government had already indicated its support for Universal in the dispute. In July of last year, Bolsonaro sent a letter to the Angolan president expressing “concern over episodes” of “invasions of temples and other IURD facilities”. “There are also reports of attacks on church members who, in some cases, have been evicted from their homes,” the Brazilian leader wrote.
Also at the end of 2019, former Chancellor Ernesto Araújo visited five African countries and defended Universal during his visit to Angola. However, evangelical leaders internally believe that efforts have been timid and that the country has not resorted to political and economic pressure to assert the interests of the church on Angolan territory.
Evangelicals make up a significant portion of the Pocketnarist electorate, although a Datafolha poll identified that Bolsonaro and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) are tied in preference in this sector. The survey showed that in the first round of the election, 35% of evangelicals would vote for Lula. Bolsonaro got 34%. In a possible second round between the two, each would receive 45% of the voting intentions, according to the poll.
Bolsonaro is trying not to lose this electorate. During the budget vote, the government agreed to give churches a remission of tax debt – social security contributions, PIS and Cofins – which total 1 billion reais, according to last year’s calculation made by the ministry of the Economy.
Bolsonaro, however, was unable to formally assume ownership of the advantage. At the time, he said he would have to veto, saying he could go through impeachment proceedings for failing to comply with the LDO (Budget Guidelines Act) and LRF (Accountability Act). tax). He therefore asked Congress to overturn the veto. In the House, the vetoes were overturned in a bloc vote along with other provisions that were part of the deal, such as elements of the anti-crime package, the bankruptcy law and the LDO.
The proposal which benefited religious entities was drafted by MP David Soares (DEM-SP) and included in a draft law on the resolution of disputes with the Union. He is the son of Pastor RR Soares, founder of the International Church of Graça de Dieu, one of the debtors.
Bolsonaro also promised to choose a name “terribly evangelical” to take over the headquarters of the STF, which will open on July 5, with the retirement of Minister Marco Aurélio Mello. Although the president has yet to strike the hammer, the strongest name on the betting exchange is André Mendonça, head of AGU (Attorney General’s Office). He is the pastor of the Presbyterian Church Esperança de Brasilia.