June 13, 2019 / 9:41 PM / 3 months ago

Brazil's Bolsonaro fires government minister Santos Cruz

FILE PHOTO: Brazil's Minister of the Secretariat of Government Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz before a ceremony for the presentation of the second phase of the advertising campaign of the pension reform bill at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil May 20, 2019. REUTERS/Adriano Machado/File Photo

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday replaced his minister in charge of political relations with Congress, the presidential spokesman said.

Government Secretary Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz was fired during a meeting with Bolsonaro earlier in the day, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The president’s spokesman only said that Santos Cruz was leaving and would be replaced by Army General Luiz Eduardo Ramos Baptista Pereira, a commander in Brazil’s southeast region who was previously a commander in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Santos Cruz, a former army general who also led U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti and the Democratic Republic of Congo, was part of the “military wing” of Bolsonaro’s government — the former military brass making up nearly a third of the cabinet.

Bolsonaro himself is a former army captain.

Santos Cruz maintained a low profile in his official role, but he engaged in fierce bickering with the more hard-line ideological wing of the Bolsonaro government.

That included public tiffs with the president’s son Carlos, who is a Rio de Janeiro city councilman and an incendiary figure on social media in defending his father, often attacking the cabinet members who are former military men.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

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