- Weintraub said he would not discuss why he was leaving the government to take a role at the World Bank.
- The decision by the former minister comes at a time the country’s top court decided to investigate him.
- If it were up to me, I’d stick all those bums in jail,” he said in a videotaped cabinet meeting.
Brazil’s Education Minister, and a close friend of president Jair Bolsonaro, has resigned. Abraham Weintraub quit his cabinet post on Thursday through a video shared by the presidential office. Weintraub revealed that he leaving to become one of the directors at the World Bank.
In a video shared on social media, Weintraub said he would not discuss why he was leaving the government to take a role at the World Bank. He did, however say that the new post will make his family safer, without explaining further.
The decision by the former minister comes at a time the country’s top court decided to investigate him in a case that involves the president’s supporters and purported threats, falsehoods, and insults to the Supreme Court Justices and their families.
He was included in the investigation on Wednesday. In a leaked video of a cabinet meeting, the former minister was seen criticizing the judges of the Federal Supreme Court, saying they should be arrested. “If it were up to me, I’d stick all those bums in jail,” he said in the videotaped cabinet meeting.
Weintraub was one of the leaders of the administration’s far-right wing. He was one of the powerful ideological voices in the government. He was the second education minister in Bolsonaro’s administration, taking office in April 2019, after Ricardo Velez Rodriguez was fired.
“Keeping Weintraub in the government was very costly in the middle of the crisis,” said Paulo Calmon, a political science professor at the University of Brasilia. “He had a position of contempt and confrontation with Congress and the Supreme Court, which is a problem as the president seeks to forge alliances.”
According to Calmon, Weintraub focused on fighting enemies, rather than working on education policies. The former minister also did so little to ensure that students received education while under lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Calmon says.
In the same video, the president said it was a hard moment to see Weintraub leave. Since the coronavirus pandemic the president has lost two health ministers and a justice minister, a person who Brazilians hailed as the anti-corruption hero.
Weintraub’s resignation came on the same day that another close friend Fabricio Queiroz, was arrested by the Brazilian police for corruption allegations. Quieroz, a former police officer and an ex-driver to the President’s son, Flavio Bolsonaro, had been on the run, and concerns had been raised about him.
He was arrested in a property belonging to Fredrick Wassef, a lawyer who represents the president and his son. However, the president said that the prosecutors and the media are trying to damage his administration by tainting his son’s reputation.
Critics have said that the corruption case will damage the president’s image at a time he has been globally condemned for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 50,000 Brazilians.
“The president is already very weak and this will weaken him further,” said Cristiano Rodrigues, a political scientist at the Federal University of Minas Gerais State. “The contrast between Bolsonaro’s words and his practices will be educational for voters,” he added. “Bolsonaro’s credibility, popularity and his ability to govern will be severely diminished.”