Amazon – under the rule of crime

Image: Erland Melanton
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By GERSON ALMEIDA*

The dismantling of the Brazilian State served as a safe conduct and encouraged all kinds of crime

The murder of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira is the result of the deliberate and methodical dismantling of the Brazilian State institutions, responsible for environmental inspection policies, for the protection of indigenous lands and their peoples. It is, therefore, a tragedy announced and stimulated in countless statements by Bolsonaro, who celebrates that "Ibama does not interfere anymore, people", in an act in which he praised the management of Ricardo Sales, the former minister of the environment who acted to take advantage of the tragedy of the Pandemic and the uncertainties of the people with their own survival to “pass the cattle”.

There is no way to hide that this dismantling work served as a safe conduct and encouraged all kinds of crime, as shown by the successive records of deforestation, the growth of violence against indigenous peoples, drug trafficking, illegal mining and the murders of leaders who fight and resist against these illegalities. This is what the Pastoral Land Commission points out, when demonstrating that “there was an intensification of conflicts during the Temer government and a frightening leap in the Bolsonaro government, which maintains an annual average of about 1.900 conflicts over land each year”.

Among so many issues, this brutal crime reveals how functional it is for the government, whose fascist orientation is increasingly evident, to act so that the national State loses the territorial sovereignty of immense areas and opens space for different factions of organized crime to dominate these territories. And not just in the Amazon.

The close relationship between the bolsonaro clan and the militias that control numerous territories in urban centers is not new to anyone, a relationship cultivated for years and accentuated since the arrival of bolsonaro to the presidency. For example, in just four years the state deputy (RJ), Flávio Bolsonaro, approved 495 motions and awarded 32 medals to military police, civil police, firefighters, municipal guards and members of the Army, Navy and Air Force (The Republic of Militias, by Bruno Paes Manso). Among the honorees are the best-known militiamen, such as the former police officer from the Special Operations Battalion (Bope), Adriano Magalhães Nóbrega, Captain Nóbrega, accused of leading the Crime Office, of being head of the Rio das Pedras militia and suspected to assassinate councilor Marielle Franco and Anderson. Adriano received a motion of praise in 2003 and the Tiradentes medal in 2005, always on the initiative of Flávio, who also hired Adriano's wife for his office.

As Bruno Paes Manso stated, “the public life of the Bolsonaro clan is a trace of their affinities with the most dangerous militiamen in Rio”. Elected president of the republic, the clan seems to be working hard so that these relations are expanded, not only by encouraging weapons and discouraging the control of these weapons and ammunition, but also by acting against offenders. An example is the action taken by Salles in the Ministry of the Environment, when he did everything to ensure that the 15 largest fines in deforested areas (about 400 hectares) did not result in payment of any amount, according to a complaint from the WWF-Brazil.

As is widely known and abundantly documented, there are vast territories in the country's large cities in which the territorial sovereignty of the State has been replaced by the dominance of different groups and factions linked mainly to drug trafficking and militias. These criminal organizations submit residents of areas under their control to their own code of conduct, in which their leaders concentrate the role of prosecutors, judges and prosecutors. They exercise a typical tyrant power, supported by weapons and the imposition of fear and, not by chance, they are the main beneficiaries of the facilitation of the circulation of weapons, ammunition and the loosening of the rules that allow their tracking. Is it possible to understand this if not as an invitation to crime and impunity?

These groups operate from a highly centralized, highly organized and heavily armed command, with increasingly extensive ramifications in different sectors of society, which allows them to accumulate enough economic power to advance over political power and seek to consolidate their own project of power. .

This reality is very different from that idealized by liberal thought and enshrined in the democratic order, which understands the State as the only source of “the right to resort to force”. Max Weber, for example, identifies the monopoly of violence as the main element of the legitimacy of state power. For him, the State is “a human community that (successfully) attributes to itself the legitimate monopoly of physical violence, within the limits of a defined territory”, but what confers legitimacy for this exercise of the monopoly of force is the respect for constitutional norms. , which must guide all the actions of public agents, of the state bureaucracy.

In the democratic rule of law, therefore, there is no legitimacy in any action that is not rigorously protected by constitutional precepts. The domain is that of the law and not that of the will or discretion of any individual, whatever the position he occupies. Outside of democratic legality, all violence is abusive, as it is respect for it that differentiates civilization from barbarism. With no commitment to democracy, the actions of the current ruler encourage the expansion of political violence in the country.

Make no mistake, the objective of Bolsonaro and of the various criminal interests that he knows to be protected by his actions is to advance in the production of chaos and try to frighten the nation and, immediately, present himself as the leader capable of bringing the country to order. An authoritarian order, largely exclusive and clearly identified with the experience of fascist regimes.

 

A sector of the ruralists already acts as if the militia were

Four years ago, Lula's Caravan in the South had to change its itinerary due to lack of security guarantees. There was an action organized by far-right ruralists who proudly acted like jagunços and militiamen, using trucks, tractors, stones and shovels to block Lula's free movement and attack his supporters.

An emblematic case occurred in Bagé, when the president of the Bagé Rural Association, Rodrigo Moglia, led a protest to prevent Lula's visit to a university created in his own government. The then mayor of Bagé, Divaldo Lara (PTB) and Senator Ana Amélia Lemos (PSD) made heated speeches and welcomed political violence against opponents, extolling the use of stones, eggs and whips as legitimate instruments of politics. Adriano da Nóbrega couldn't have given a better speech.

Episodes like these keep happening – as the murder of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira confirm – showing that Bolsonarism and its militias can try to extend the same tyranny and fear throughout the country that they already impose on the populations in the areas where the State territorial sovereignty was replaced by the territorial power of criminal organizations. This attempt to “militiarize” the electoral campaign does not necessarily mean the territorial expansion of the militias, but the adhesion of social sectors of the right to some of their practices, as happened against Caravana de Lula do Sul, in 2018. The most recent example is the one in Uberlândia, on June 15, when a drone sprayed poison on the people present at Lula's public act and the constant attempts to intimidate Lula's public activities in this pre-campaign.

Lula's expressive leadership in all opinion polls and the great arc of democratic forces that is being built in his support to defeat Bolsonaro and Bolsonarism, shows that the vast majority of society does not want Brazil to be transformed into a great Rio de Janeiro. Pedras, or Vale do Javari. On the contrary.

The unavoidable dilemma that the country's political and social forces will have to face is that of respecting popular sovereignty and acting so that the elections are held under democratic conditions, or whether they will surrender to the desire of the coup groups to protect the process, as letter from the minister of defense to the president of the TSE reveals. In this year's electoral process, the struggle will be to recover the democratic rule of law, social justice and national sovereignty, which can only happen with the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro and Bolsonarism.

*Gerson Almeida holds a master's degree in sociology from UFRGS.

 

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