Balance and prospects

Image: Ali Yılmaz


The opposition will have to leave the virtual clashes to occupy the streets and squares

During the nearly 30 days that I directed, at the Chemistry School of the University of Brazil (today UFRJ), the biggest student strike of the 1960s, I wrote the title sentence on the blackboard in the room where we held our frequent general meetings. It's time to repeat the exercise, after the spectacular day of August 11, 2022.

To begin with, it is necessary to remember that the proposal was not to take the great masses to the streets, but to take a qualitatively broad public from the political point of view to demonstrate, isolating the energetic in their muxoxos against the Letters for Democracy. For those who criticized the “elitist” language of the Letters, it is good to remember who wrote them and to whom they are addressed. It was not meant to be a demonstration by or for the people, but above all by and for the “upstairs”. With these considerations in mind, the result could not be better, a shamanism by the elites with the support of organized sectors of civil society to exorcise the threats of a coup.

Second, the acts were completely peaceful and without disputes between the actors present, representing a wide range of political and social positions. The organizers, conservative in most of the most important events, were open and plural, calling for representatives from the entire political spectrum to speak and only excluding those openly identified with political parties, guaranteeing the non-electoral character of the events.

There was no feared identity dispute via flags, banners, shirts and slogans. There wasn't an invasion of red, drowning out white and green and yellow. The left behaved appropriately, although the vast majority of those present certainly fell on that end of the political spectrum. On only two occasions, in Rio and São Paulo, did the public chant slogans that evaded the plurality of political identities, singing Lula Lá. It was quick and didn't cause any embarrassment. The most powerful chorus of Fora Bolsonaro was not out of tune, as it only explained to whom the Letters for Democracy were addressed and this undoubtedly corresponded to the unanimous opinion of the participants in the acts.

The speakers not only referred to the threats to democracy, but also to the social problems that afflict each of the represented segments and whose confrontation requires the existence of the rule of law in order to reach a solution. It was an important qualification of the meaning of democracy for each and everyone. It couldn't be better even in comparison with the 1977 Charter, which was much more restricted in its content.

Jair Bolsonaro continued to attack the Letters and pass on the receipt that the threat to democracy is himself. Although the Bolsominions' critical mentions on social media were more numerous than the favorable ones, experts in this area comment that they were restricted to the extreme right "bubble" and that in a broader and more widespread public, outside any "bubble" , support for the Letters dominated widely.

The 11th ended, without any doubt, with a resounding defeat for the president, whose only response was to indicate that Petrobras had once again lowered the price of diesel. There were 0,20 cents less in the price at refineries, taking advantage of the drop in international prices. This should mean a minuscule decrease for users, maybe not even that, as resellers are desperate to rebuild their profits and may not pass it on.

Taking stock, let's look to the future.

I don't think that the journey of the 11th stopped the blow. It just made it more difficult. I say this because the agents of this coup (let's stop comparing with 1964, please) are the FFAA, the military police, the fascist-like bands armed and organized in the Shooting Clubs and what has already become conventionally called "cattle", the bases Bolsonarism fanatics, agitated by a minority but very active portion of the Protestant churches and, even smaller, of the Catholic Church. It is clear that the more isolated Bolsonaro is, the more difficult it will be for the military and police to cross the Rubicon of the breakdown of legality. Without them, Bolsominions, armed or not, are powerless to strike.

We can expect threats and grins from the general public (including in this expression the superior officers of all forces) to postpone the elections or annul them in the case of the prospect of defeat or the defeat of Jair Bolsonaro in the elections, but if they are not able to coerce or buy the Congress, the fatal step of closing the House and Senate is much more difficult to take. It is clear that the 6 to 7 thousand officials employed by the government, some of them with millionaire salaries, will act on their peers in active duty, even for the promise that they can one day achieve this mouth. But this is not the same as the situation in the FFAA in Venezuela, where active-duty officers are embedded in direct administration and the economy itself.

As I have already written several times in other articles, all this pressure on Congress will not work “dry”, in a normal situation. But in a situation of political and/or social chaos, pressure can work, especially if the continuity of a legislature that only looks after its individual interests is ensured.

The electoral campaign will provide numerous opportunities for provocation, from attacks on activists and voters of Lula and opposition candidates in the streets and squares of the country's cities to attacks against rallies and electoral committees on a higher scale of violence. Provoking confrontations in the streets that favor the intervention of police in favor of the energetic, with a lot of tear gas, rubber bullets, beatings and arrests is a tactic to be expected in the coming weeks, until the 2nd of October.

How will the conservatives, the “upstairs”, who manifested themselves in the Letters, act? They are good at preparing manifestos, but they lack convening power and are likely unwilling to take to the streets to face these risks. We can expect other declarations, broader and more vehement, from this sector, but those who will be in the streets taking risks will be the militancy of the opposition. We can count on the active role of the conventional media to denounce violence and abuse and this helps to isolate Bolsonarism. This contributes to creating a political climate against the coup, but it is not decisive.

All of this can be overcome if Jair Bolsonaro regains competitiveness in the electoral polls, as a result of the outpouring of money for the mass of desperate people who make up the majority of the electorate. If Jair Bolsonaro approaches or surpasses Lula in the polls, he may start to follow the banditry line of the Centrão, willing to win with the force of money and not with the violence of weapons. Jair Bolsonaro could guide his cattle to avoid clashes with the opposition, but being who he is, it seems unlikely that this will happen.

The opposition cannot be intimidated and hand over the streets and squares to the Bolsominions and will have to take the risks of remaining present and, at the same time, not buying the provocations. It won't be an easy thing, as the tendency is to “go to hell”. Being beaten without reacting and continuing on the streets will be the biggest challenge for the opposition, but it is the aggressors and violent people who are condemned by public opinion, whether they are black blocks or bolsominions. The maintenance of the more aggressive tactics of Jair Bolsonaro and his associates could turn against the energetic, when voters put their votes in the ballot boxes.

In any case, the opposition will have to leave the virtual clashes to occupy the streets and squares. You're going to have to go hand-to-hand, talking a lot with voters and trying to convince and not hostile. I defend that the militancy of social movements and parties dedicate themselves to this conviction, which André Janones called “sitting on the factory floor”. This does not prevent holding large rallies, which have their place in the campaign, but melee seems more effective.

Finally, Lula will have to offer very concrete solutions to the despair in which the people live. Define very concrete social policies that can be perceived as hope for better days. A well-defined and easy-to-defend Zero Hunger program will be the linchpin of this campaign.

Lula will also have to denounce all the mishaps of the Jair Bolsonaro government, with emphasis on the horrors of the Covid pandemic crisis, the denunciations of the torn corruption of the family and his government and, above all, the food crisis, better said, the calamity of hunger which is the most evident effect of his mismanagement.

We will have to have cool heads and burning hearts.

*Jean Marc von der Weid is a former president of the UNE (1969-71). Founder of the non-governmental organization Family Agriculture and Agroecology (ASTA).


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