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Abraham Weintraub

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Abraham Weintraub
Abraham Weintraub em maio de 2019.jpg
Minister of Education
In office
8 April 2019 – 20 June 2020
PresidentJair Bolsonaro
Preceded byRicardo Vélez Rodríguez
Succeeded byAntonio Paulo Vogel (acting)
Personal details
Born
Abraham Bragança de Vasconcellos Weintraub

(1971-10-11) 11 October 1971 (age 49)
São Paulo, Brazil
Alma materUniversity of São Paulo (USP)

Abraham Bragança de Vasconcellos Weintraub (born 11 October 1971) is a Brazilian economist and professor. He is the former Minister of Education of Brazil, and a former investment banking executive[1][2] and known for controversial actions of racism[3][4][5] and mismanagement during his tenure as the head of the Ministry of Education.[6][7]

Biography[edit source | edit]

Weintraub was born in São Paulo into a Jewish father, Mauro Weintraub, and a non-Jewish mother, Mariliza Bragança de Vasconcelos, both doctors who studied at Faculty of Medicine of Sorocaba.[8] He is a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp), Master in Administration in Finance for Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), and graduated in Economic Sciences at the University of São Paulo (USP) in 1994.[9]

An executive of the financial market with over 20 years of experience, he acted as the lead economist and director of Banco Votorantim and as a partner in Quest Investimentos. He was a member of the transition team of the government of President Bolsonaro, and was Secretary-Executive of the Chief of Staff Onyx Lorenzoni.[9]

He became a member of Bolsonaro's transition cabinet in November 2018.[10]

Ministry of Education[edit source | edit]

On 8 April 2019, Bolsonaro appointed Weintraub as the new Minister of Education, replacing Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez. Weintraub is close to Onyx Lorenzoni, the current Chief of Staff whom he previously served as Executive-Secretary.

On 18 June 2020, after 14 months in office, Weintraub announced his resignation from the Ministry.[2] On 20 June 2020, he was officially removed from office. On the night of the previous day, before his exoneration was published, Weintraub traveled to the United States. To travel, Weintraub utilized the diplomatic passport conceded to ministers, due to the fact that the US' travel restrictions related to COVID-19 barred civilians from Brazil starting on 29 May.[11][12] This was cause for controversy, as a request to the Supreme Federal Court for the apprehension of Weintraub's passport was filed the day before he traveled, motivated by the two open investigations against him.[13][14]

On June 18, 2020, Weintraub announced his departure from the Ministry of Education in a video with President Bolsonaro on his social networks. On June 20, 2020, his resignation from the post of Minister of Education was published.

Controversies[edit source | edit]

Spelling mistakes[edit source | edit]

On multiple occasions, the then-Minister of Education wrote incorrect or otherwise improper Portuguese, with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, on official documents and social media. In January 2020, in a tweet to Eduardo Bolsonaro, Weintraub wrote "imprecionante" instead of "impressionante", roughly equivalent to writing "imprecive" instead of "impressive", in English.[15][16]

Accusations regarding drugs in universities[edit source | edit]

In November 2019, during an interview with Jornal da Cidade, Weintraub accused federal universities of cultivating cannabis and preparing methamphetamine in chemistry labs, but did not present any evidence to support his claims:[17]

You get cannabis plantations, but it's not just three cannabis trees, it's extensive plantations of some universities, to the point of having pesticide sprayers. Because being organic is good against soy so Brazil's agribusiness doesn't grow, but on their weed they want all the technology available.

Take chemistry labs – a chemistry faculty didn't used to be an indoctrination center – developing synthetic drugs, methamphetamine, and the police can't go in the campus.

After the fact, 10 state deputies of Bahia presented an interpellation, questioning Weintraub's accusations. The then-minister responded by saying that his declarations were generic and that he had no intention of accusing any specific persons. Weintraub's statements would therefore be considered as an exercise of free speech.[18]

Emmanuel Macron[edit source | edit]

In August 2019, Weintraub wrote that the French people had elected a president "devoid of any character" and that Macron is "nothing but a worthless opportunist who seeks support from the French agricultural lobby".[19]

Filming in class[edit source | edit]

In April 2019, Weintraub stated that the filming of teachers by students during class is a right held by the latter, calling it an "individual liberty".[20] Responding to the minister's statements, jurists argued that the unauthorized filming of teachers in class may violate the fundamental rights of educators, and is unconstitutional.[21]

Crack conspiracy theory[edit source | edit]

In a 2018 interview Weintraub claimed that crack was introduced to Brazil by communists in order to weaken the country. He also said that FARC, a Colombia guerilla movement, had been invited as honored guests to the Foro de São Paulo, an annual gathering of Latin American leftist parties. These comments led The Guardian to brand Weintraub as a conspiracy theorist.[22]

References[edit source | edit]

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Political offices
Preceded by
Ricardo Vélez Rodríguez
Minister of Education
2019–2020
Succeeded by
Antonio Paulo Vogel (acting)

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