The right attacks Porto Alegre

Image: Bia Santana
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By GERSON ALMEIDA*

Patriot's Day makes it urgent to defend democracy against those who use it to destroy it is the fundamental issue that needs to be faced relentlessly

There are 5.565 municipalities in the country, but only Porto Alegre's councilors and mayor felt free to dedicate a day on the city's official calendar to patriots.

Before some unsuspecting ask: so what? it is necessary to clarify that the chosen day is the one on which fanatical hordes vandalized the installations of the Senate, the Federal Chamber, the Presidency of the Republic and the Federal Supreme Court, the headquarters of the three powers of the Federative Republic of Brazil and, therefore, symbols of the State of democratic law and the Constitution that conforms them. In this case, patriot is the fantasy name of scammers.

When asked about the issue, Mayor Sebastião Melo (MDB) and the President of the Chamber of Councillors, Hamilton Sossmeier (PTB), tried to evade any responsibility and hid behind bureaucratic arguments and naughty maneuvers. Mayor Sebastião Melo, despite having the prerogative of veto, decided to let the legal deadline to manifest pass, which is not a subtle form of support for the initiative.

Councilors from the base of the government control the majority of the three commissions that analyzed the proposal: the Constitution and Justice Commission, which did not find any legal obstacle to the exaltation of the coup d'état; by the Commission on Education, Culture, Sport and Youth, which found it appropriate for education and culture to encourage vandalism and anti-democratic preaching; and, amazingly, the Commission for Consumer Protection, Human Rights and Public Security, in which the majority perceives the coup acts as compatible with human rights and public security. It is surprising that only two councilors voted against these committees, suggesting that the democratic sectors need to realize that there are non-negotiable issues and that it is necessary to demarcate them politically.

The approval of "Patriot's Day" in Porto Alegre is an infamous display of support by the executive authorities and the municipal legislature of Porto Alegre for acts of vandalism that were carried out with the explicit objective of imposing a regime in which parliament and the judiciary would be subjugated to an executive imposed by a coup d'état, hijacking the popular sovereignty gauged in democratic elections.

This shows that the level of moral and political degradation of the power group that supports Mayor Sebastião Melo – a large majority in the City Council – has reached the point of metastasis. None of the successive right-wing governments, which have governed the city for years, have been able to take the disdain for democracy in the city so far that it has become known throughout the world as an example of social participation.

It is true that Mayor Sebastião Melo is determined to assert himself as a leader in the field that brings together the entire arc of the regional right and his administration is determined to transform Porto Alegre into an ultraliberal management model, as shown by his purpose of making the areas public areas of the city, such as Orla do Guaíba and the Parks, into goods available to the interests of the market and private profit. This brings about a substantial change in the urban function of these areas, until then considered essential goods of universal use, destined to ensure the well-being, quality of life and preservation of the urban environment for the entire population.

But the explanation for this bizarre action cannot be found only in local politics, as the lack of commitment to democracy and popular sovereignty is an intrinsic characteristic of the current stage of capitalism that does everything to ensure an autonomization of the “market forces” of any type of control of society. For the “market”, the function of governments is to act to facilitate its action and never to establish rules that put it at the service of society.

The way leaders act in the face of a bill is to make a decision about the interests of certain sectors of society, a choice about projects for society. And mayor Sebastião Melo and the councilors from his political support base showed in a sleazy way what interests they serve.

Porto Alegre under the management of Sebastião Melo and his repulsive political alliance became a national laughing stock by dedicating a day to the patriot/coup leader, but the question this reveals is how much the current system of thought and action of the Brazilian right and its counterparts in the world are moving further and further away from their commitment to the democratic pact.

The incompatibility with democracy had already been clearly expressed in the response of Friedrich Hayek, one of the main ideologues of neoliberalism, during the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile: “My preference is in favor of a liberal dictatorship, not a democratic government” . The defense of democracy against those who use it to destroy it is the basic question that needs to be faced relentlessly.

*Gerson Almeida, sociologist, former councilor and former secretary of the environment of Porto Alegre.


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