Witzel said he was being abused by Bolsonaro and considered seeking asylum in Canada

The removed governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel (PSC), said he felt mistreated by the president Jair Bolsonaro (no party) and are considering applying for political asylum in Canada. This statement was made in an interview with Veja magazine.

The target of impeachment proceedings in Rio de Janeiro’s Legislative Council, Witzel also said that “he could get a job anywhere in the world” and had not given up on his dream of becoming president of the Republic. He said that this plan, however, was one of the reasons Bolsonaro stepped aside.

“My mission in politics has only just begun. I still have patriotic feelings as president,” he said, putting asylum as a plan B if he was permanently removed. “If I become aware that there is political persecution and co-optation of institutions against me and my family, I intend to apply for political asylum in Canada. I can get a job anywhere in the world.”

Witzel has been away from the RJ government since August 28 by court order following a complaint by the PGR (Office of the Attorney General) regarding alleged participation in a corruption and money laundering scheme. He denied the accusations.

Interested in becoming president

In his opinion, the removal was motivated by a dispute with Jair Bolsonaro. In the interview, Witzel recalled that relations with the president soured after he announced his intention to run for president in 2020.

The removed governor said he regretted warning Bolsonaro himself of his intentions.

“I gave him reasons to create a narrative against me. To Bolsonaro’s electorate, I am traitor number 1. It is an act of political inexperience,” he said. “The president is only thinking about re-election in 2022 and is already thinking that all his opponents should be shot down.”

“No malice” towards children

According to Witzel, the relationship also soured after a private conversation in which the removed governor claimed to have received an unusual request from Bolsonaro.

There was one day when I met the president at a TCU minister’s birthday party. He called me aside and asked: “Governor, don’t do anything to my children.” I ask: “But to do what?” And he: “It means nothing.” He thought I would give evidence against his children, Carlos, Flávio
Wilson Witzel (PSC), governor of Rio de Janeiro

Witzel further stated that “it would not be an exaggeration to say that the current Republic revolves around protection Flavio Bolsonaro” and that “The Federal Public Ministry is partly co-opted and doing what is in the interest of the government.” “And so is the Federal Police”, he added.

Since July 2018, Flávio Bolsonaro has been investigated by the MP-RJ (Ministry of Public Affairs of the State of Rio de Janeiro) on suspicion of embezzlement, money laundering and criminal organization. The investigation begins with a Coaf (Financial Activities Control Board) report.

The work identified “unusual financial movements” of 75 advisors or former state representative advisers in Rio. Fabricio Queiroz, Flávio’s adviser when the president’s son became state representative from Rio de Janeiro, is one cited. He handled BRL 1.2 million between January 2016 and January 2017. That amount does not match his income.

The MPs suspected that Queiroz was operating, on Flávio’s orders, a “loophole” scheme. That is, he will collect most of the salaries of his cabinet colleagues, to be passed on to the president’s children. Flávio Bolsonaro’s defense has denied the accusations.

“I am a victim of a hoax”

In the interview, Wilson Witzel also said that he was the victim of a prank and would return to government. “I am the victim of a joke that will be legally deconstructed. The mixed court has to judge according to the evidence in the case file, technically. Otherwise, the trial may even be cancelled,” he said.

On August 28, STJ minister Benedito Gonçalves dismissed Witzel for 180 days in a monocratic decision after receiving a complaint from the PGR. On September 2, the STJ Special Court confirmed the removal by 14 votes to 1. In that decision, the ministers showed the seriousness of the evidence shown during the examination, such as payment of bills in cash.

Referral of the impeachment process to the TJ-RJ (Judicial Court of Rio de Janeiro) is unanimously approved by Alerj on September 23. There were 69 votes in favor of continuing the process that would see him leave office permanently.

Once TJ receives the document, Witzel will be “double deleted” – given STJ’s designation in August. He will have up to six months to present his allegations to a mixed court – composed of five deputies and five judges – which can decide whether or not to impeach him.

Clara Burton

"Geek zombie. Subtly charming social media scholar. Beer enthusiast. Lifelong bacon pioneer."

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