Lula da Silva comes out in strong support Celso Amorim as defence minister
Brazilian former president Lula da Silva came out in full support of the latest cabinet reshuffle by President Dilma Rousseff who sacked the Minister of Defence Nelson Jobim following some derogatory remarks about the cabinet chief and the head of institutional relations (mainly with Congress).
“Even if Pelé isn’t in a good day, you have to change him”, said Lula da Silva in direct reference to Jobim but immediately praised the incoming official, former Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim, who apparently has stirred some concerns in the Brazilian Armed Forces.
“I think that when people analyze the intellectual competence and statesman character of Celso Amorim, we have very few so gifted in Brazil”, said Lula da Silva underlining that the naming of a Defence minister “is not a matter of debate for the Armed Forces”.
“I believe Celso is extremely capable politically and I’m sure he will give continuity to the extraordinary job that Minister Jobim was doing in Defence”, added the former president.
He insisted that it’s no business of the military, “whether they like it or not, who is named Defence minister. Let me be clear when the President names a person, that’s it. Dilma is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, she named the minister, period. You don’t question the decision”.
The former president said he regretted the ousting of Nelson Jobim who remained as Defence chief under the government of Dilma Rousseff on his recommendation.
“The president did the right choice; I think what happened should have not happened. I really don’t know what happened with Minister Jobim who was highly qualified for the job. But it happened. Now the ship keeps sailing. As a good union leader would say, the struggle continues”, underlined Lula da Silva.
He further indicated that changing three cabinet ministers in seven months of government is not a problem. Cabinet chief Antonio Palloci and Transport minister Alfredo Nascimento had to leave on corruption suspicions revealed by the Brazilian press.
“No, sometimes you could have even more changes. It seems strange when ministers are out, but when election time comes, thirty ministers walk up to you saying they want out. It’s no surprise what happened” insisted the former president.
Jobim exit had been brewing for some time. A former Justice and minister under both Lula da Silva and previously with Fernando Cardoso, Jobim admitted having voted for the opposition candidate in 2010, Jose Serra and not Dilma Rousseff. He argued at the time he was a long time friend of Serra and had been best man at his marriage.
However in a magazine report he described Institutional Relations minister Ideli Salvatti as a “weakling” and accused cabinet chief Gleisi Hoffmann of not even “knowing her way around Brasilia”.
Lula da Silva revealed that last Tuesday President Rousseff called on Jobim to talk about the issue and ask for explanations.
Communications minister Paulo Bernardo (and husband of Ms Hoffmann) who announced the latest reshuffle said that “as one of those strong character ‘gauchos’ from Rio Grande do Sul, maybe Jobim has a long entrenched dissatisfaction of not accepting orders from women”.
But this is the third time in the three consecutive cabinet change incidents that Lula da Silva has come out to support her successor, (whom he personally chose as presidential) candidate, in what could be interpreted as a weakness of Brazil’s president.