The reactionary intent

Image: Eugene Golovesov


Jair Bolsonaro's coup attempt has not yet been defeated

The fact that Minister Alexandre de Moraes lifted the confidentiality of the testimonies of those investigated in Operation Tempus Veritatis,[I] about the attempted coup d'état, was decisive in shedding more light on understanding what was and what continues to be going on in Brazil. From the publication of the testimonies and possible witnesses, we began to have a more precise idea of ​​how far the leadership of Jair Bolsonaro's government intended to go.

The set of statements, including from the commanders of Jair Bolsonaro's Armed Forces, demonstrate that the coup attempt actually came very close to being consummated. It will still be necessary to know and understand other aspects that intervened so that the reactionary intention, such as international relations and the weight of the position of the Joe Biden government and the US Armed Forces, was not carried out. However, there can no longer be any doubt about the willingness to execute the coup plan.

The refusal of two of the three commanders, only Admiral Almir Garnier Santos of the Navy would have consented to the coup maneuver, effectively prevented the coup outcome, but does not undermine the small distance that separates between carrying out the coup or not. Most of the military leaders shared the coup desire and were involved in its preparation. Among so many generals involved up to their necks, the consent of Garnier Santos and the direct links between General Estevam Theophilo, former head of the Land Operations Command, with Jair Bolsonaro reveal a complex and fragmented reality within the Armed Forces.

In addition to the breakdown of hierarchy, Jair Bolsonaro's meetings with the Army's operational commander, who effectively controls the mobilization of troops, demonstrate that there was effective preparation for the deployment of willing troops, such as the Army's Special Operations Brigade and the Army Corps. of Navy Marines, for the conspiracy. Which, if put into practice, could act as a kind of spark in the coup process.

Among the mistakes that can be made, one of the most harmful would be to underestimate the coup disposition in the Armed Forces. Simplifying the interpretation of the facts and considering that they were nothing more than episodes limited to themselves and overcome, would be the other deadly errors.

The coup project does not yet appear to be completely buried. The extreme right and Jair Bolsonaro himself did not fail to act to seek to build sufficient conditions for a coup. Jair Bolsonaro and his followers continue to question the Federal Constitution and the institutional system. Their actions and statements aim to bring together a social base favorable to any purpose to make democracy in the country unfeasible. The anti-Lulista, anti-communist rhetoric and the dissemination of retrograde values ​​are moving a social base willing to give an audience to what is most conservative in the political culture of the elites and part of Brazilian society.

Likewise, the international scenario, with the growth of the extreme right, is naturalizing xenophobia, racism, hatred, violence and the rejection of democracy. From the European far right to the Zionist right, passing through the resurgence of Donald Trump in the USA, anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian rhetoric fuels the belief in the interruption of democracy and the deposition of any left-wing government. 

Bolsonarism is circulating in the country and seeking international channels to continue the January 08th coup, which has not yet been effectively defeated. Just as nostalgia for the 1964 dictatorship itself has not been completely overcome, it lives on in the pathetic figure of General Augusto Heleno, General Frota's assistant.

*Jorge Branco is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).


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