Brazilian Congress Calls for Defense Minister’s Head Following Airports’ Chaos

Brazilians senators have transformed the Senate floor, this Wednesday, December 6, in a stage for criticism against the government. Most of the flak was directed towards the airports mismanagement, which caused yesterday, what’s being called the worst day in Brazil’s aviation history.

Defense Minister, Waldir Pires, was the favorite target of the attackers. 

Senator Tasso Jereissati, president of the opposition party PSDB, bayed for the Minister’s head on a silver platter. He made a direct appeal to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

"Mr. President, do respect the 58 million who voted for you. Go to work, stop the speeches and take responsibility. Fire whoever has to be fired and put in his place someone who knows about the matter." And he went on:

"Today we don’t have a president, a man to take care of this problem. The president acts as a stranger, a completely absent person. There is no minister to take responsibility for the sector. The Defense Minister’s interviews have been pathetic. He doesn’t know a thing about the subject. Brazil is living through a true mess, without a man, without pulse."

The Defense Minister’s position seems more and more untenable.  While the opposition is calling for his ousting the government’s allies are not defending him.

Senator Delcí­dio Amaral from the ruling Workers Party urged the president to act and to act fast:

"This is a serious matter and it’s becoming so critical that I think the president needs to take a position and alert the population so that they will be ready. Nobody deserves this!

"Therefore, we have to face this matter with the seriousness that it deserves, showing clearly what are the plans we have. Or we should push for brief interviews to try to show that we are concerned. 

"The situation demands a declaration by the Minister of Defense, by someone with authority, in a national radio and TV linkup, to say what is going to be done and what is going to happen."

The leader of the PSDB (the party with the most seats in Congress) in the Senate, Arthur Virgí­lio, didn’t beat about the bush:

– I can’t see Waldir Pires as minister any longer. He is not a minister anymore.

In response to the outcry, the government leader in the Senate, Romero Jucá,  said very little but was very eloquent in what he didn’t say:

"The president is taking all necessary steps. If he needs to change someone he will do this."

Rodrigo Maia, leader of the PFL in the House, also called from the floor for Pires’s dismissal. For him the airports crisis showed that Waldir Pires can’t continue heading the Defense Ministry: "With all due respect to the minister’s history, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to take charge of the situation when the time came," said Maia.

For the speaker of the House, Aldo Rebelo "the facts show that there is a crisis, there is an impasse, and the crisis affects the life of people, companies and institutions and therefore, fast and strong measures should be taken and the National Congress should cooperate in the search for these solutions."


  • Show Comments (6)

  • ch.c.

    Pires, “doesn’t know a thing about the subject” !!!!!
    – curiously, this was what I said for weeks already, and I was insulted in this forum !

    Therefore I am glad to be the NOT SO IDIOT, afterall !

    On the other hand, I find curious, but not surprised, that Brazilians have not yet linked the ATCs strike…to the plane tragedy ! Sadly enough there is a clear and obvious relation !

    Funny too that some call what is happening now at the airports as the Worst Day In Brazil’s aviation history….ALREADY forgetting the plane crash AND THE 154 VICTIMS !

    I suppose that these politicians are more concerned about taking the airplanes for their next vacations and to fly in and out of Brasilia Senate and for them the plane crash is already history !

    Obviously, No Brazilian posts members, will criticize these politicians to not think and share the pains of the families victims, as these same members told so many times to foreign members of this site ! Simple demonstration of how idiots are many Brazilians on this site ! A true bunch of junkies without common sense…in their arguments !

  • Teena

    To Gringo
    Good point.
    Maybe the real reason the pilots were kept sequestered, was to keep the investigation (or lack there of) out of the news till after the election.

  • Rick

    First, politicians are prime users of airlines here in Brazil. Their ox is the one being gored, and they will get this fixed, to the extent that it can be through money and legislation. Second, there are many airports here in Brazil that have a tower, ground control, and Infraero (the ones that collect the user fees) and yet have less than 10 percent of the traffic of some uncontrolled airports in the U.S. (By uncontrolled I mean, nothing on the field except a unicom, but you still might be able to operate IFR thru Center). It may be that in these cases the issue is to control and monitor rather than simply separate air traffic. Third, I think it was Richard Collins that said years ago, if one insists that airlines fly schedules year round, business as usual, good weather and bad, youÀ‚´re going to lose a plane once in a while. While weather was not evidently a factor in this case, fill the skies with complicated machines piloted by human beings and once in awhile one will fail to arrive at its destination. People who are not willing to accept that should not fly.

  • Stephen

    Keith, what do other 1st world countries use? For example at Heathrow (LHR) they move 440 international flights per day from that one airport alone! That is as many international flights that Brazil has in one month. Strange situation and I live here in Brazil but this is the shame of the country at the moment. Does anyone know if any pilots working for international airlines traveling to Brazil are now worried about entering Brazilian airspace? Or leaving!

  • Gringo

    CPI now!
    Not only should Pires step down, but there should be a formal CPI to investigate WHO knew WHAT and WHEN. Problems with ATC staff, black holes in communications etc, look now to have been known PRIOR to Lulaˢ۪s landslide second vote (handed to him by an overwhelming number of simpletons) but were never mentioned. WHY? His campaign director MUST have known that if the attention from the air 1907 disaster was rerouted to the entire Brazilian air system the week of the elections, chaos would reign (as it has).

    Would Lula have pushed through a second round IF people were stranded at airports, and knew they were lied to about the safety of Brazilian skies? Probably, again the majority of people here are simpletons. Lula is the À¢€œTeflon PresidentÀ¢€Â À¢€“ nothing sticks to him, no matter how dirty and persistent. But his party may have lost even more KEY states and deputies À¢€“ making it more difficult for Loopy-Lulinho and his merry band of thieves to rule.

    The Boeing 1907 investigation has been a sham from the start, and continues to be a blatant sham. The people of Brazil should be outraged and embarrassed with how this whole thing has unfolded. The victimˢ۪s families deserve REAL answers, and shouldnˢ۪t be used as political pawns.

    Even worse, if these problems were known in advance of the elections by political figures, and those political figures SAT on evidence or forced the Military investigation to keep À¢€œmumÀ¢€Â until the elections were done (remember the line about À¢€œNATIONAL SECURITYÀ¢€Â?) that would mean that the politicians in this country preferred to have Brazilians continue flying in unhealthy skies, than to inform them about the realities and possibly loose political points.

    CPI Now!

  • Keith Peshak

    What would you do
    ATC, air traffic control, is based on 1920s procedures (shove them into tubes in the sky), using World War II transponders, updated with 1960s integrated circuit technology, operated manually (by people). It canˢ۪t handle the traffic.

    The deal about “work to rule” is where “rule” doesn’t mean “take over and run”; it means “work in accordance with the international rules”. See, if we followed the rules, that were established to ensure safety, then we can’t move the traffic. Now, if somebody gets “uppity” about we killed an airplane, then we’ll defend ourselves by strictly following the rules. That will, unfortunately, mean that not much moves, however… And that means that normal operating procedures are unsafe, relatively…

    Now, there is better technology, TailLight, which provides complete situational awareness. But, see, that is new technology (and new is very bad in aviation). Besides, it was meant as an augmentation to ATCRBS, but there is the severe danger that it could REPLACE manually operated problematic ground radar based air traffic control.

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