Bradesco Bank, and its Bolsonaro-supporting CEO, face backlash over his video praising the military on the eve of a coup-threatened election. It is the latest signal that international capital will back Bolsonaro and the military-political project he fronts, as it did in 2018.
Last year an economist from Santander provoked anger when, in an internal document circulated around the company and its partners, he proposed a “new coup” to prevent former president Lula da Silva returning to office at the forthcoming elections.
Now, Banco Bradesco, and its CEO, Octavio de Lazari Junior, have given the latest sign that it is backing neofascist Bolsonaro, as they did in 2018.
Both banks are members of State Department and CIA-linked corporate lobby, Council of the Americas. Santander’s head of corporate & investment banking Marco Antonio Achón is a director on the Council of the Americas board.
A video of the Bradesco President praising the Armed Forces has circulated on social media, in which de Lazari talks about his own time in the Army, in 1982. It features Bradesco official branding and appears institutional.
“I am the CEO of Banco Bradesco, where I have worked for 43 years. But four decades ago, I presented myself like this: Soldier 939 Lazari, at your command”, de Lazari tells viewers, explaining that military life taught him his principles.
“These principles, which were consolidated over the years, were fundamental for me to build my career, here at Bradesco and in the market, but also to shape my character”, the Banker explains.
Following a backlash, Bradesco insisted that that the video was personal. In a message sent to friends on social media, de Lazari says that the video was for internal use only, made at the request of the commander of the battalion in which he served, and for a visit to the Quitaúna barracks, in Osasco São Paulo, where it was intended to “motivate recruits”.
Weeks earlier in Davos, Switzerland, for World Economic Forum, Bradesco’s two main directors, Chairman Luiz Carlos Trabuco and de Lazari Junior, played down coup threats by Jair Bolsonaro, and described Brazil’s democracy as “robust”, echoing language the U.S. government has recently re-adopted, after earlier warnings about the election. Despite those threats, United States President Joe Biden invited Jair Bolsonaro for bilateral talks during the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.
“We have a robust democracy and the recognition of a judicial system that works. The context of Brazil as a country is being – and will be even more so – a very safe harbor for the flow of international capital,” Trabuco told Estadão newspaper when asked about Bolsonaro’s brazen threats to the October elections, which he is on course to lose.
De Lazari Junior, one of the biggest supporters of Bolsonaro’s election in 2018, said that he had spoken with big hitters of international capital, such as Philipp Hildebrand, vice-president of the board of the BlackRock hedge fund, and that “their feeling is that the Brazil has a consolidated democracy”.
“There may even be a fiercer discussion on one side or the other, but democracy is consolidated and we are not taking any risks in relation to that. The election will be fierce, but I believe that what was built is preserved and we will not have this type of problem.” de Lazari insisted, in the face of widespread threats to the democratic process from his own preferred candidate, Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro came to power through the intervention of the Military in the judiciary, and the subsequent jailing of election frontrunner Lula da Silva, who then, as now led polls by 20%. Generals were assured that Lula would not be released before the election, and thus that their candidate, ex Army Captain Bolsonaro, would have a clear shot at the presidency. Lula’s jailer, disgraced formed judge Sergio Moro, was awarded multiple military honours for his lawfare assault on the Workers Party.
De Lazari also talked of the need for more privatizations, while Trabuco, responding to question on Bolsonaro/Guedes Education policy that “human capital retraining” is needed to serve the financial system. With re-election unlikely, Bolsonaro has sought international capital’s support by embarking on an effort to fast track privatisation of state control oil and energy giants Petrobras and Eletrobras.
Bolsonaro and his economy minister Paulo Guedes have been highly profitable for Brazil’s banks. In their first year of government, Bradesco’s profits leapt 13.8%. In the third quarter of 2021, Bradesco, Santander and Banco Itaú saw a 29% annual increase in profits.
Bolsonaro opponents see the de Lazari video as approximation between Bradesco and the far-right, military-dominated government. National coordinator of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), João Paulo Rodrigues, called it a “promiscuous alliance” between the bank and the military.
“We were surprised. On the eve of an election, the president of Bradesco advertising the Armed Forces, especially the Army, which had behaved ridiculously in the pandemic, in addition to being unnecessary, is to create the idea that banks, as well as the army, want to participate in the electoral process. It is a promiscuous alliance that constrains democracy. On the eve of an election, it smells like coup talk. I hope history tells us different” – Rodrigues told Blog do Noblat.