Put out the fire, good man!

Image: Anselmo Pessoa
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By MANUEL DOMINGOS NETO*

More than nostalgic for the Cold War, the guarantors of Law and Order in Brazil are glazed even in colonial times

Some treated General Augusto Heleno as senile and imbecile for having said that ABIN (Brazilian Intelligence Agency) would have the mission of spying on “bad Brazilians”. Law 9.983/99 designates the mission of this Agency to obtain information on internal and external threats to the constitutional order. Threats are not clearly defined, and what always prevails is the perception of the agents themselves. The bodies legally designated for the preservation of Security define what constitutes a threat.

Social movements, NGOs, political parties, parliamentarians, union activists, anti-racists and various actors who stand out in denouncing injustices have always been treated as enemies by institutions responsible for ensuring the order and security of the State.

The democratically elected rulers contained raptures in the performance of these institutions, the main one being the Army. But they did not manage to change the values ​​that guide the actions of these organizations regarding what is useful or not in Brazilian society.

Focusing fire on a man who, due to his age, may be losing self-censorship, is counterproductive or innocuous. It serves to cover up reality. What's the use of single-handedly stigmatizing the minister-general and replacing him with someone more restrained in his words, with less rude gestures, but with the same scabrous perception and the same taste of blood in his mouth?

Except for the nuances, Heleno sincerely translated what the President of the Republic, the military commanders, the police chiefs and the government's support forces think.

Categories such as “good” and “bad” Brazilians are part of the way security institutions have always perceived society. Those who contest the socioeconomic and political order would be on the list of “bad guys”, who should, when possible, be silenced or eliminated for the good of the country, think the members of these institutions.

It should not be forgotten: the Army still hasn't let go of the mentality that justified the killing of huts, baskets, rags... After the Proclamation of the Republic, it killed more than ten thousand Brazilians who were protesting in the backlands of Bahia. He never had the courage to say "I was wrong". Not even the grandeur of an apology. On the contrary, he honors those who commanded the slaughter and curses the disobedient. In Canudos, men, women and children were driven to take up arms to defend themselves against the wild beast.

Fighting to overcome the legacy of atrocities from the colonial period remains a threat to the security of the State. Accept the iniquities and you will be a good man, claim those who are in charge of Brazil today.

They are legitimate heirs to the rationality of the Italian Friar André João Antonil, who died in 1716, in Salvador, after writing a long treatise on how the colonizer should exploit the forests, the countryside, the mines and the people. His most famous saying is that natives and Africans needed to be treated with bread, sticks and cloth.

More than nostalgic for the Cold War, the guarantors of Law and Order in Brazil are glazed even in colonial times.

* Manuel Domingos Neto is a retired UFC professor. He was president of the Brazilian Defense Studies Association (ABED) and vice president of CNPq.

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