Brazilian business leaders, in letter, rebuke Bolsonaro’s ‘authoritarian adventures’

SAO PAULO/BRASILIA (Reuters)

Hundreds of business leaders representing large Brazilian banks and other companies on Thursday published a letter titled “Elections will be respected,” in an apparent rebuke of President Jair Bolsonaro’s recent threats against the 2022 elections.

“The principle of a healthy democracy is that elections are held and all involved accept its results,” the letter said. Bolsonaro has repeatedly said if a printed-ballot system is not adopted, the 2022 elections would not be held. On Wednesday, he threatened to react to a Supreme Court probe into his conduct “beyond the constitution.”

Without citing the president, the letter said: “Brazilian society is guarantor of the constitution and will not accept authoritarian adventures.”

The letter’s signatories included Roberto Setubal and Pedro Moreira Salles, large shareholders and co-chairmen in Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Luiza and Frederico Trajano, controlling shareholders in Magazine Luiza, Pedro Passos and Guilherme Leal, shareholders in Natura & Co Holding, Carlos Jereissati, shareholder in mall operator Iguatemi, and bankers such as Credit Suisse (SIX:CSGN) CEO in Brazil Jose Olympio Pereira and Lazard (NYSE:LAZ) Chairman Jean Pierre Zarouk. Walter Schalka, CEO of pulpmaker Suzano, also signed the letter.

The letter was also signed by economists, diplomats and representatives of civil society.

On Wednesday, Bolsonaro raged against a Supreme Court investigation into the unfounded accusations that Brazil’s electronic voting system is vulnerable to fraud. Critics say Bolsonaro, like former U.S. President Donald Trump, is sowing doubts in case he loses in 2022. He has already threatened not to accept the result if the system is not changed.

In an interview with an evangelical radio station, Bolsonaro said he wants to emulate the elections in neighboring Paraguay, where electronic voting and printed ballots coexist.

He said Supreme Court judges Alexandre Moraes and Luis Roberto Barroso are making “unreasonable” decisions and repeated that electronic voting is vulnerable to fraud.

Bolsonaro also said Moraes’ decision to investigate him in a fake news probe is “absurd.” During the interview, Bolsonaro cited a federal police probe that investigated a hacking of the Supreme Electoral court in 2018.

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