The case of the resigning health minister

Have you ever heard of a country’s health minister resigning for a day in the middle of an international public health crisis? That’s what happened in Brazil last week. In the midst of the Zika outbreak, Marcelo Castro resigned on Wednesday, but was then rehired on Thursday. Why? The answer is very simple: He took time off to play politics. His goal was to lessen the chance that President Dilma Rousseff will be impeached.

Marcelo Castro was promoted to his role as the current/former Brazilian health minister from his former/current/former position as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Brazilian Congress analogous to the US House of Representatives. He resigned just so that he could go back to the chamber and take part in a vote to elect his party’s whip, essentially the party’s leader in the chamber. This is important because the whips will sit on a committee that will, eventually, decide on whether to impeach President Rousseff, who is facing impeachment proceedings for using inappropriate accounting procedures to cover up a budget deficit.

The vote was between a candidate who was strongly pro-impeachment, and one who was against it. The anti-impeachment candidate won, thanks in part to the efforts of Mr. Castro. Once this order of business was completed, he was promptly re-appointed to his post.