In another nod to the evangelical base, President Jair Bolsonaro has appointed the former mayor of Rio de Janeiro and former senator Marcelo Crivella as head of the Brazilian embassy in South Africa, but it depends external and legal factors.
The consultation on Crivella’s name was made by a secret expedient and Brazilian authorities are currently awaiting a response from the South African government to formalize the appointment to the Senate, which is responsible for reviewing and approving it for the post.
Even if there is the green light from the South African government, the accession of the politician to this post still depends on Minister Gilmar Mendes, of the STF (Supreme Federal Court).
Indeed, in February, the magistrate revoked the arrest that had been imposed on Crivella, but instituted precautionary measures such as a ban on leaving the country and the collection of a passport.
On May 20, the politician’s defense asked the magistrate to reconsider his own decision and release him to leave Brazil. Gilmar can analyze the lawyers’ request on his own or send the case back to the second chamber of the court.
Crivella was arrested on December 22 last year by order of Judge Rosa Macedo Guita, of the TJ-RJ (Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice). He was arrested during an operation carried out by the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police and the Rio de Janeiro Public Prosecutor’s Office, who denounced the politician and 25 other people for criminal organization, money laundering and passive bribery and active.
At the time, he was also removed from his post as RJ’s executive, a post he would have given up less than two weeks later anyway because he lost the litigation for re-election.
According to the MP, the case concerns a bribe payment system in the city of Rio de Janeiro, called QG da bribe, which is said to be run by businessman Rafael Alves, a friend of Crivella.
The designation of Crivella, Chartered Bishop of the Universal Kingdom of God (IURD) and gospel singer, also aims to improve relations between the Plateau and the religious institution headed by Edir Macedo.
Crivella is the son of Eris Bezerra Crivella, sister of Macedo, leader of the church linked to the Republican Party and controller of TV Record.
In addition to being mayor, Crivella was also a senator and Minister of Fisheries under the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT).
Relations between the Bolsonaro government and Universal were shaken by the church split in Angola, where a group of local clerics rebelled against Macedo’s allies and took control of the temples.
In addition to taking over the Iurd sites in the country, the rebels accuse the church 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.
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.
Internally, parliamentarians linked to the church have complained that the Bolsonaro government has made only half-hearted efforts to defend Universal and that Brazil has not used political and economic pressure to advance the interests of the church on Angolan territory.
The assignment of one of the most important figures of Universal in another African country where the institution has strong interests would therefore be a way for Planalto to demonstrate its commitment to the evangelical base.
It would also help protect Crivella in his prosecution, since the Federal Constitution guarantees a privileged forum for heads of permanent diplomatic missions.
In the 1990s, Crivella lived in South Africa, where he led the internationalization of Iurd. His visit to this African country was cited by the allies as one of the justifications for the candidacy.
The role of the politician in the African country is indeed one of the arguments put forward by his lawyers to try to convince Gilmar Mendes to release him so that he leaves the country.
His defense asserts that “there is no concrete indication that shows the risk of evading the country or using the passport for undesirable purposes.”
He also mentions the fact that Crivella is a “high-level bishop of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, an entity whose religious branch is headquartered in more than one hundred countries”.
And he mentions that the politician has already worked for ten years as a missionary in Africa.
The acceptance of his name to assume the embassy is however still uncertain. Interlocutors told Folha that there were still doubts about the reaction of the South Africans.
They stress, for example, that we must wait and see if the South African government will take into account their country’s bilateral relations with Angola.
The consultation transmitted by the Brazilian government to South Africa is known as accreditation and is used by the host country to inform if it has an objection to the appointment of a new ambassador.
Responses usually only occur when they are positive. When a government does not agree with the appointment of a particular person, the practice is not to answer the question, which is understood as a refusal.
At the end of last year, Crivella was not arrested for more than a day. On the same date that the preventive detention was decreed, the president of the STJ (Superior Court of Justice), Humberto Martins, ordered his transfer to house arrest using an electronic ankle bracelet.
At the time, the magistrate also banned Crivella from having contact with third parties and forced him to hand over phones and computers to authorities, in addition to banning him from leaving his home without permission and use phones.
A day later, Martins issued a new ruling to determine the immediate transfer of the then mayor returned to house arrest and ordered TJ-RJ chairman Claudio Tavares to provide information on the failure to comply with the decision that freed Crivella. .
After that he was able to return home and on February 13 Gilmar Mendes revoked the house arrest and imposed certain obligations and prohibitions on the politician.
Among them, the veto to leave the country and to maintain contact with other investigated, in addition to making him appear periodically in court to inform and justify his activities.
Now Crivella’s defense is asking that these measures imposed by Gilmar be revoked.