Brazil's controversial education minister resigns


Brasília (AFP)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's education minister, Abraham Weintraub, announced his resignation Thursday after finding himself embroiled in a series of controversies and scandals.

"This time it's true, I'm leaving the ministry of education," Weintraub, 48, said in a brief video posted on Twitter, standing alongside Bolsonaro.

Weintraub, an economist by training, said he would be leaving "in the coming days" to start a new job at the World Bank.

Since taking the post in April last year, Weintraub had become one of the far-right president's most controversial ministers.

He made headlines by tweeting anti-Chinese comments that were widely deemed racist, appearing to make light of Nazi atrocities, misspelling words in official documents and on Twitter, and saying the Supreme Court's justices are "criminals" and should be "thrown in jail."

On Sunday he was fined for failing to wear a face mask at a pro-Bolsonaro rally in Brasilia, where masks have been mandatory in public since April to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

"They're trying to shut me up at any price," he tweeted after that incident.

Speculation had swirled in recent days that Weintraub was about to be fired, particularly after his comments about the Supreme Court.

The court is currently overseeing a series of potentially explosive investigations involving Bolsonaro and his inner circle, and tension has soared between the president and its justices.

But in a show of support to a minister popular with his hardline base, Bolsonaro spoke of their shared love of "freedom" and ushered Weintraub out with a handshake and a hug.