Rio de Janeiro | With its new ministry of Communications, the brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro wants to burnish the image of a government shaken by a political crisis that could cost him his mandate.
The choice of a minister for this portfolio which has been created is far from being trivial: Fabio Faria, 42 years old, is the son-in-law of Silvio Santos, the owner of SBT, one of the largest terrestrial channels of Brazil.
Young, dashing and charismatic, the minister insisted, and soon entered on his duties last week on the importance of “pacify” the country by offering an “armistice patriotic”, a kind of sacred union to combat the coronavirus, of which Brazil is the second home in the world, after the United States.
Just the opposite of your bellicose a Bolsonaro impulsive and corona-the skeptic, in perpetual conflict with the Parliament, the supreme Court and the governors have put in place measures for containment to try to stem the pandemic.
The president has since the beginning of its mandate relationships conflicting with a part of the press, that he often treats with contempt and who makes it well. He said the journalists were “an endangered species”.
To give an image more respectable of the government, Fabio Faria will also have to be assertive in the face of a “cabinet of hatred”, which would be led by Carlos Bolsonaro, the youngest son of the president of the extreme right.
This informal group, which operates the presidential palace of Planalto is at the origin of campaigns incendiary on social networks against the enemies of Jair Bolsonaro. He is also suspected of spreading false information.
“The president Bolsonaro is anxious to improve its image and its relations with other powers. (…) The main challenge from Fabio Faria is to allow for a better governability,” said AFP political consultant independent André Rosa.
Another benefit of the new minister: he is a member of the “Centrão”, a group of 200 parliamentarians from a dozen of centrist parties, almost a third of the seats in the House.
Their vote would be decisive in case of opening of a procedure for the removal of Jair Bolsonaro, who was suspected, among other things, interference in police investigations aimed at its close.
“In a government full of military members (10 out of 23 ministers), the communication is far from fluid and a charismatic personality as Fabio Faria may reassure the Parliament”, adds André Rosa.
“The war of information is very important, which is why I have decided to re-create the ministry of Communications”, announced the president a fortnight ago.
“The ministry of Propaganda has been recreated”, has ironisé on Twitter Sergio Moro, the former minister of Justice, who had slammed the door two months ago.
A reference to totalitarian regimes, but also the Department of Press and Propaganda was established in 1939 by president Getulio Vargas at the time of the Estado Novo, a regime-inspired fascist, to muzzle the press and broadcast massively the ideology of the government.
The ministry of Communications was created in 1967, in full military dictatorship. It remained in place then, before being absorbed by the ministry of Science and Technology in 2016, under the presidency of Michel Temer.
The 5G line of sight
The department is also responsible for the allocation of concessions for terrestrial channels and government expenditure on institutional publicity in the major media.
Jair Bolsonaro has repeatedly threatened to deprive them of this windfall of newspapers or television channels to be too critical of him.
“Bolsonaro clearly wants to get closer to some media groups which are more favourable,” said Fernando Nogueira, a specialist in public administration at the Getulio Vargas Foundation.
The National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj), of Brazil, denounced in a press release a “conflict of interest” Fabio Faria, due to its close links with one of the biggest tycoons of the television of the country.
Since his election, in 2018, the president has given several interviews to SBT, but also to Record, owned by a powerful evangelical pastor, snobant the main channel in Brazil, TV Globo, was highly critical of his government.
In addition to the communication of the government, the ministry must also manage folders burning related to telecommunications, such as the tender for the 5G planned for 2021, with the chinese operator Huawei in pole position.