Brazil’s Bolsonaro Shuffles Cabinet

March 30, 2021 Updated: March 30, 2021

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro made six Cabinet changes on Monday in the biggest ministerial reshuffle since he took office.

Three ministers left the government, including Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, a China hawk whose departure followed mounting criticism from lawmakers of his failure to guarantee additional COVID-19 vaccine supplies from Beijing and Washington.

There had been no advance word of Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva’s exit or rumors of discontent.

“During this time, I preserved the Armed Forces as institutions of state,” Azevedo e Silva wrote in a ministry statement. “I leave in the certainty of a mission accomplished.”

In his place, Bolsonaro appointed his current chief of staff, Walter Souza Braga Netto, one of several former army generals who had moved into the government’s inner orbit.

Another former general, Luiz Eduardo Ramos, will take over as chief of staff, leaving his Cabinet-level post handling legislative priorities to Flavia Arruda, a first-term lawmaker with ties to Bolsonaro’s new allies in Congress.

Outgoing Solicitor General Jose Levi Mello, whose signature was notably absent from a government request that the Supreme Court block state stay-at-home measures in the pandemic, said in a letter he would resign.

Bolsonaro will replace him with current Justice Minister André Mendonça, whose role goes to Anderson Gustavo Torres, a federal police officer currently in charge of public security for the Federal District, which includes the capital, Brasilia.

Carlos Alberto Franco França, a diplomat close to Bolsonaro, was named as the new foreign minister, according to a statement from the presidential press office outlining the changes.

Last week, Bolsonaro replaced Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello, an active-duty general who had overseen most of the coronavirus response. He was widely blamed for a patchy vaccine program that has given a first dose to fewer than 10 percent of adults.

New Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga told lawmakers on Monday he was hopeful of procuring U.S. vaccine supplies, and would be meeting with the U.S. ambassador in an effort to secure earlier delivery of 20 million doses.