Brazil's Justice Minister Sergio Moro resigns over feud with President Bolsonaro

The former crusading judge behind the Car Wash Operation announced his resignation after President Jair Bolsonaro fired the head of the federal police

Brazil's minister of Justice Sergio Moro quits after President Bolsonaro fired the federal police chief. Photo: EBC

Brazilian Justice Sergio Moro announced his resignation after President Jair Bolsonaro fired the head of the federal police.

The dismissal of police chief Mauricio Valeixo was confirmed Friday morning, but the government gave no reason for the firing. Valeixo was an appointee of Moro, a well-known former judge that gained notoriety behind the Operation Car Wash (Lava Jato) against corruption that led to the imprisonment of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, among other politicians and businessmen.

“It is not a matter of whom [to appoint], but why to change [the head of police] and allow political interferences to be made within the scope of the federal police. The President said he wanted someone whom he could call to and access information. This is not the role of the federal police,” Moro said during the resignation speech.

“I cannot continue my work without autonomy, or giving the impression I agree with political interferences in the federal police”, Moro added. “I have to protect my biography and above all the commitment I took on that we would stand firm against corruption, organized crime and violent crime.”

READ ALSO: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro changes health minister amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Moro was one of the stars of Bolsonaro’s government due to his record fighting corruption as a federal judge. Bolsonaro originally touted him as a “super minister” in charge of implementing a law-and-order agenda. His exit is another blow to Bolsonaro’s government, which had already changed its health minister amid the pandemic.

Moro’s departure and the sidelining of Economy Minister Paulo Guedes rattled financial markets. Brazil’s currency weakened more than 1% again on Friday to a record-low BRL 5.59 per dollar. The benchmark Bovespa stock index fell more than 2%.

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