Institutions did not work

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By KATIA GERAB BAGGIO*

Institutions have failed to defend democracy

During the last few years, and even today, we hear that Brazilian institutions have worked — and that they continue to work.

No! Brazilian institutions did not work to defend democracy and the democratic rule of law.

If they had worked properly, Dilma Rousseff would not have suffered a impeachment no proven crime of responsibility; Lula would not have been convicted and imprisoned without proof that he had committed any crime; and Jair Bolsonaro would have had his mandate as federal deputy revoked, with the due loss of political rights, for lack of parliamentary decorum — on numerous occasions, including aggressive attitudes against colleagues in Congress, such as Senator Randolfe Rodrigues, then in PSOL, in 2013 ; and federal deputy Maria do Rosário (PT), in 2014 — in addition to countless racist, misogynistic and/or homophobic manifestations. And in praise of a torturer recognized as such by the Judiciary: Army Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who died in 2015, who was director of the Operations and Information Detachment – ​​Internal Defense Operations Center (DOI-Codi), a body subordinate to the Army, in São Paulo, from September 1970 to January 1974, during the military dictatorship.

On April 17, 2016, in the vote for the admissibility of the impeachment of former president Dilma, then deputy Jair Bolsonaro declared, in the plenary of the Chamber: “They lost in 64, they lost now in 2016. For the family and for the innocence of children in the classroom, which the PT never had [sic]; against communism; for our freedom; against the São Paulo Forum; for the memory of Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the fear of Dilma Rousseff; by the Army of Caxias; by our Armed Forces; for a Brazil above all and for God above all, my vote is yes”.

By mentioning Ustra as “the terror of Dilma Rousseff”, Bolsonaro admitted, even if he later denied, the deceased colonel’s past as a torturer. And he was not impeached for praising torture, as he should have been. The process, then opened at the Council of Ethics of the Chamber, was filed on November 9, 2016, under the allegation that “the deputy only expressed his free political opinion, supported by parliamentary inviolability”.

It was accepted that Jair Bolsonaro attacked fellow parliamentarians. It was accepted that he defended a torturer, recognized as such by the Judiciary. It was accepted that a notorious defender of the military dictatorship would keep his parliamentary mandate.

Institutions failed to defend democracy. They allowed an heir from the basements of the military dictatorship to reach the most important position in the Republic, with the vote of more than 57 million Brazilian men and women, aware or ignorant of their past — and present — immersed in the horror of dictatorship, torture and militias.

That the institutions finally work, approving the removal of Jair Bolsonaro from the Presidency of the Republic, for proven crimes of responsibility.

* Katia Gerab Baggio Professor of History of the Americas at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

 

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