The article signed by the president of the Chamber, Arthur Lira, published yesterday in Folha, was created not to force the departure of the now ex-president of Petrobras, José Mauro Coelho — he had already been convinced to resign at the weekend, doubled by the ” argument” that he would be professionally destroyed if he insisted on staying, among other messages he received from downtown chiefs.
The text signed by Lira, with suggestions for persecution of Petrobras directors and their families, had two other objectives: one short-term and the other permanent.
The short-term objective was to pressure Petrobras’ governance not to create obstacles for the inauguration of Caio Paes de Andrade, appointed earlier this month by President Jair Bolsonaro to preside over the company in place of Coelho.
Although the appointment of Petrobras’ number one is the prerogative of the President of the Republic, the state-owned company’s Administrative Council has been threatening to question the choice on the grounds that Paes de Andrade has no experience in the oil sector. With the resignation of Coelho, the executive director of Exploration of the company, Fernando Borges, assumed the position on an interim basis. It was not what the center and the government wanted and, thus, until Paes de Andrade’s inauguration is guaranteed, the threat of opening a Petrobras CPI, made in Lira’s article and echoed by President Bolsonaro, must remain in the air. .
The other objective of the text signed by Lira in his threat article was to remind Petrobras’ Board of Directors about the consequences of what central chiefs consider a “rebellion” on the part of the state’s minority shareholders.
In the words of one of Lira’s ally: “By invading the territory of politics influencing the price of fuel one hundred days before the election, Petrobras threatened to break a political pact with the Legislature” — a “pact” that, according to the representative of the center, goes through the “series of facilities that Congress has always offered to the company as a state company”. Lira, in his article, explicitly mentioned some when talking about the “differentiated” way in which Petrobras is usually treated by government agencies such as CADE (Administrative Council for Economic Defense) and those responsible for environmental inspection.
That’s how it worked so far, but it can change — that was Lira’s message. Wrote the president of the Chamber: “If the company decides to face Brazil, let it prepare itself: Brazil will face Petrobras”. He added that it was “an encounter with the truth”, not a threat.
It was a threat. And Coelho’s resignation is just an indication that Petrobras is beginning to understand that the fight it bought was not just with the Bolsonaro government, but with a longer-lived entity called centrão, also known as the “politician union”.