Brazil’s recently-appointed education minister resigned after President Jair Bolsonaro became aware of inconsistencies in his resume, local press reported.
The academic credentials of Carlos Alberto Decotelli, who would be Bolsonaro’s first Black cabinet member, came under close scrutiny when one of the universities he said he’d graduated from denied having awarded him a degree. He was appointed by the president last week but, amid the controversy, his swearing in ceremony was twice delayed and he never took office.
He’s handed a resignation letter to Bolsonaro, who is expected to withdraw his nomination, according to G1 website. Decotelli confirmed his departure in an interview with Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. The presidential palace didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Decotelli was the third education minister nominated by Bolsonaro since the government started in 2019 and his resignation underscores the difficulties found by a president who’s increasingly relying on the military to fill positions in the administration. A naval reserve officer, he would also be the 11th member of Brazil’s armed forces assuming a senior cabinet job. He was supposed to replace Abraham Weintraub, one of the president’s most vocal supporters, who had resigned amid clashes with Supreme Court justices.
His appointment had been well received by analysts as he offered assurances he would avoid the political fights of his predecessor. Weintraub had investigations authorized by the top court for allegedly using racist language to refer to the Chinese and after accusations of spreading fake news.
Decotelli came under fire after the dean of University of Rosario said on Twitter the incoming minister hadn’t received a PhD degree from the Argentine institution. Later, Germany’s University of Wuppertal also denied that he had completed a post-graduation program after a stint there.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Decotelli said he didn’t receive certifications from those universities due to “operational details” and corrected his resume.
But his situation became unsustainable on Tuesday when newspapers reported that, contrary to what his resume said, Decotelli hadn’t been a full-time professor at Brazil’s Fundacao Getulio Vargas business school.
It’s not the first time that a senior Brazilian official has been accused of lying about their academic credentials. Enviroment Minister Ricardo Salles was initially introduced as a lawyer trained at Yale University, an institution he never attended. Pastor Damares Alves, minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, said she had a masters degree in education but later backtracked, saying that “all those who interpret the Bible are masters.”
Former President Dilma Rousseff also said her resume was wrong and that she had not concluded her masters and PhD in economics at Brazil’s Universidade de Campinas. She said she finished the courses but didn’t have time to defend a thesis.
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