The Brazilian Scene – IV

Image: Thelma Lessa da Fonseca
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By BENICIO VIERO SCHMIDT*

Comments on recent events

The book of interviews by General Eduardo Villas Bôas, organized by Celso de Castro (FGV), shows that the 2018 electoral scenario was clearly influenced by the presence and pressure of the Armed Forces – through the tweet of the Army commander – on the STF on the occasion of the trial that opened the possibility of avoiding the arrest of former President Lula.

Although this episode took place three years ago, this manifestation makes the Brazilian political scene worrying, as it indicates the weakness of the self-defense of Brazilian democracy in relation to factors originating from forces other than civil policies. This is an issue to be taken into account from now on, especially when comparing the place granted to the military in the 1988 Constitution with what they had in Chile and Argentina.

On the other hand, the strategy to combat Covid-19 remains flawed, intermittent and irresponsible. The Ministry of Health's refusal to buy vaccines offered to Brazil in 2020 by foreign groups has come to light in recent days. The strategy continues to falter and the country runs the risk of amplifying the wave that has already led to 250 people dying.

The political and economic highlight of the week is the intervention of the Presidency of the Republic in Petrobrás, which led, at first, to the loss of the values ​​of its assets and the retreat of the general index of the Stock Exchange (as it also affected other state-owned companies such as Banco do Brasil, BB Seguridade and so on). It is worth mentioning the observation of the journalist Merval Pereira in The Globe, maintaining that the president of Petrobrás also fell because he denied the use of 100 million reais from the oil company in advertising on the SBT and Record television networks. The claim has not yet been disproved, nor has it been proven.

The interference of the Presidency of the Republic focused on the dilemma of choosing between oil produced here and imported. Not all the oil that Brazil produces is consumed in the country due to its chemical composition. The country has to import especially derivatives of diesel oil, which increases its value. This makes it impossible for the country to actually be self-sufficient and creates dependence on international prices, which is also affected by exchange rate fluctuations.

The emergency fund provided for in the preliminary version of the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) makes it possible to pay the aid in four installments of 250 reais from March onwards for informal workers and people with no income. As conceived, it also affects the necessary expenses stipulated by the constitutional floor for education and health.

The CNT/MDA survey, released recently, shows that 35,5% of respondents disapprove of the government. It is the highest unpopularity rate of the Presidency of the Republic since the beginning of the government.

In recent days, the press has highlighted the issue of buying and carrying firearms in the country. The government, through a series of decrees, has gradually withdrawn control over the circulation and identification of weapons from the Army. This in a situation where the purchase of weapons by private persons, whether hunters or bearers of weapons, has grown enormously.

Noteworthy here is the letter from former minister Raul Jungmann to the STF and the long article by deputy Marcelo Freixo published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul. Both denounce that the armaments being built by the Bolsonaro government aims to destabilize next year's presidential elections with the formation of militias and pressure à la Trump, replicating in Brazil what happened recently in the United States.

*Benicio Viero Schmidt is a retired professor of sociology at UnB. Author, among other books, of The State and urban policy in Brazil (LP&M).

 

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