Facing his most severe political crisis since taking office in 2019, Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, resorted to a broad reshuffle of his Cabinet last week, giving more of a voice to center-right parties in order to shore up his support and reduce the risk of impeachment while ousting three military commanders whom he considered insufficiently loyal. As Brazil heads into a perfect storm—an out-of-control pandemic combined with economic collapse and growing political discontent—Bolsonaro appears to be surrounding himself with loyalists who are willing to protect him and his four sons, all of whom are under investigation for crimes ranging from embezzlement of public funds to nepotism and money-laundering. This could have troubling implications for Bolsonaro’s political fortunes and, more importantly, for Brazil’s democracy.

Bolsonaro had been on the defensive in recent weeks, since the unexpected…

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