Bolsonaro – sad figure

Image: Gustavo Santana.
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By GILBERTO LOPES*

The aftermath of September 7

President Jair Bolsonaro's speeches in Brasília and São Paulo on September 7 "reveal the sad figure and distorted autocratic mind of a mediocre politician", said Celso de Mello, former president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). On Tuesday 7, in São Paulo, Bolsonaro called Judge Alexandre de Moraes, a member of the STF who investigates cases involving him and his children, a “scoundrel” for spreading false news and for apology for the dictatorship (he later recanted). . And he stated that he would not carry out any of his orders.

On Thursday the 9th, in the midst of the chaos provoked by truck drivers who support him, closing roads across the country, and the concern of his allies (including the military) with the unconstitutional course that things have taken, he said that his blunt words they were the result of “the heat of the moment”. He spoke, as columnist Moisés Mendes said, alongside three four-star generals, all from the reserve: vice-president Hamilton Mourão and ministers Braga Netto, minister of defense, and Luis Eduardo Ramos, chief minister of the general secretariat. of the presidency. “He went up on the platforms under the protection of his soldiers”, said Mendes, “and the only reason he didn't take the preparation of the coup to a new stage was because the mechanism that would trigger the chaos didn't work. If it had worked, I would not have asked for a truce.”

Without the political support he had hoped for, with the roads occupied, the stock market falling, the dollar rising and shortages threatening the population, Bolsonaro ordered the truck drivers – the spearhead of the operation –, this time in a soft voice, to leave the streets. The alternative was to take the military to the streets, but not to support their project, but to kill truck drivers, their allies, and open the roads. A task that some military in the government might, perhaps, view with sympathy, but which those on active duty – tasked with the task – probably do not. With the crisis spiraling out of control, the president decided to defuse it with a ten-point note released on Thursday.

The genie was out of the bottle

Truck drivers from different parts of the country had occupied the esplanade of the ministries in Brasília to celebrate the date of independence, on September 7th. The idea was to attack the Federal Supreme Court (STF), where Bolsonaro and his sons face investigations that could land them in prison.

Bolsonaro spoke. First, in Brasilia. Afterwards, he took a plane and went to São Paulo, where his tone rose. The following day, Wednesday the 8th, the country woke up with road blocks in at least 16 states. In the early hours of Thursday, in a video broadcast on the networks, images of groups of protesters in support of Bolsonaro appeared, installed on the esplanade of the ministries in Brasília, close to the Federal Supreme Court (STF). Bolsonaro began trying to dissuade them from continuing.

In audio, in a colloquial tone, somewhat submissive, he speaks with an emissary, who will ask them to abandon the protests: “Tell the truck drivers there, who are our allies, but these blockades hinder our economy. This causes shortages, inflation and harms everyone, especially the poorest”. “So, touch the guys there, if possible, to release them, okay? For us to follow normality. Leave it to us in Brasilia here and now. But it's not easy to negotiate and talk with authorities around here. It's not easy. But we're going to do our part here and we're going to find a solution for this, okay? And enjoy, on my behalf, give a hug to all truck drivers. Thanks,” he continued.

Truck drivers did not believe that the audio was really from Bolsonaro. It could be fake news. They demanded guarantees. Bolsonaro then asked the infrastructure minister, Tarcísio de Freitas, to confirm that he was the one asking to cancel the protest and open the roads. The minister appears in a video and says: “Hello! Today is September 8th, it's after 22:38 pm. Many truck drivers are questioning whether an audio of the president of the republic is real and if it is from today. Yes, it's real and it's from today, and it shows the president's concern with the paralysis of truck drivers. This stoppage will exacerbate the effects of inflation on the economy, it will affect the poorest…”

Thunder

Zé Trovão (Antônio Pereira Gomes), one of the leaders of the most radical truck drivers, with his beard and hat, is wanted by the police, accused of threats against Congress and the Federal Supreme Court. Once the president's audio was known, its veracity confirmed, he recorded his own video. It is not known where he speaks. The police are looking for him.

Later, it was learned that he had fled to Mexico. He says it's after 9:XNUMX am on Thursday, September XNUMXth. “You can see my tired face, we've been fighting all day and now it's circulating on social media that the president of the republic recorded an audio asking truck drivers to open the roads and get back to work. "That audio could be fake, it could be real, or whatever it is," he said. And he said, addressing Bolsonaro: “President of the republic, if you really want us to open the roads, for us to go back to work, I have two things to say: first, that my life is destroyed, because I am being persecuted politically, with an arrest warrant and the risk of not seeing my family again, because I won't go to prison, because I'm not a criminal. The other thing, President, is that we want you to speak to the Brazilian people, to record a video, to say the date, the day, and ask us to open it. Then we will ask truck drivers to open it”.

When the police started trying to clear the esplanade of the ministries, the truck drivers went crazy. They couldn't believe it. Dressed in yellow-green, they lamented: “The president did not come. I'm a Bolsonarist. I left my family to defend my country, but none of the president's children came (Bolsonaro has three sons in politics: one, Carlos, councilor in Rio de Janeiro; another, Eduardo, federal deputy; and a third, Flávio, senator); the president hasn't said a word to us so far, and the people are still here, faithful, beside the president.

The protester then addresses Bolsonaro directly: “President, we need you, say a word of encouragement to those who are here”. Another appears speaking in the same video: “Look, we don't go out into the streets to play! President!”, he says, pointing his finger at the camera, “We will not comply with this order, we will stay here, we will not leave the street”. “You, truck driver, without a shower, don't go out. Stop everything. We are going to make the people of the city understand that it is agribusiness and transport that move Brazil”.

Then Bolsonaro spoke. In a ten-point statement, released at noon on Thursday, he backs down. "I never had any intention of harming any of the powers." "My words, sometimes blunt, stemmed from the heat of the moment". After having stated in Tuesday's demonstrations that he would not comply with new decisions by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) judge, Alexandre de Moraes, he recognizes "his qualities as a jurist and professor", with whom he has normal disagreements, and ends by reiterating his respect by the “institutions of the Republic”.

to break

The long dialogue does not end. Zé Trovão speaks in a new video. It is already known that he is in Mexico. “Pay attention!”, he says, addressing his companions, “our fight – I'll say it again – is against the disasters of the STF, it's against Alexandre de Moraes, our fight is against corruption, against banditry. We are in no way defending President Bolsonaro. Neither against nor for. We are fighting for Brazil! Brazil! The demonstrations need posters with the face of Alexandre de Moraes, asking for his impeachment. Let's go! Take down the posters with Bolsonaro written on them. Take those signs down, for God's sake! We will fight for what is right!”

They had announced that they would arrest him after locating him in the Mexican capital. He would give himself up. But he changed his mind. “I have to run away again. I wanted to turn myself in, but nobody wants me to,” he says. “Why do I want to turn myself in? The Brazilian people have to know that I'm on their side. But everyone asks me not to. So help us. Let's hit the streets now! Let's stop everything! Entrepreneurs, close your companies! Let's hit the streets! Let's save our Brazil! We still have time. I'm counting on you!" Bolsonaro asks for patience. “Some want more immediate action. They're already going down the wood on me. Natural. Patience". The head of government also asked his supporters to be calm: “Give us some time, give us two, three days”. It is not clear for what.

not dead

For Tarso Genro, former minister of justice, education and institutional relations during the Lula governments, the demonstrations promoted by Bolsonaro fell far short of what he intended. "He failed to create the necessary hysteria in his base to advance beyond reasonable limits." But, he added, “I don't believe that Bolsonaro is over and is a failure. Bolsonaro has an organized vanguard, financed by pathologically unbalanced people, sociopaths or indoctrinated, who move in an orderly way through the injection of resources from sectors of the Brazilian ruling classes”.

This vanguard, he warns, “is armed”. “We must not underestimate him; he failed in his attempts, but he is not dead. Last August, Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president's son, traveled to South Dakota. He went to attend a conference on "voter fraud" organized by "two of America's biggest scammers: Steve Bannon and Mike Lindell."

Eduardo was presented as “the third son of the Trump of the tropics”, while Bannon described Lula as “the most dangerous leftist in the world” and the Brazilian elections next year as “the most important in the history of South America”. The visit did nothing to improve relations between the Brazilian government and the US, as it is part of the same policy of questioning the electoral system that Trump and his supporters continue to spread in the United States. Bolsonaro demands printed voting (not just electronic voting) in the 2022 elections, a demand that has already been rejected by Congress. “It is a settled issue,” said the mayor, Arthur Lira, a Bolsonaro ally. Eduardo Bolsonaro's visit to the stronghold of the US extreme right confirms the president's alliance with Bannon ahead of the next elections. “There will be turmoil in the 2022 elections”, estimated journalist João Filho, from the Intercept Brazil.

absolute disaster

“I'm going to be 80 years old and for 60 years, more or less, I've followed international politics closely. I have never seen Brazil the way it is, in any aspect”, said the ambassador to TV 247. Five years after the parliamentary coup that ousted President Dilma Rousseff from power in 2016, “the result is an unmitigated disaster,” he said. “The country is placed completely on the margins of the international system, on the margins of good relations with the great and small powers”, he concluded.

In the opinion of political scientist Ronaldo Tadeu de Souza, the State is being refounded, workers' rights are being devastated, privatization is advancing and the ministries of education and culture are being destroyed. The former finance minister of the Workers' Party governments, Guido Mantega, recalls that, after the Lava Jato operation – created to investigate corruption in the Brazilian oil company Petrobrás – the company invests only a third of what it invested five years ago. The operation ended up serving to put Lula in prison, remove him from the 2018 elections, in which he was clearly the favorite, and bring Bolsonaro to power, with military support. “It is a really dramatic scenario”, says economist Paulo Gala: “drop in GDP, of 0,1%, unemployment still very high, above 14%, and the IPCA-15, which shows that the Inflation runs at 9% a year”. “Our industry operates today with a production level 10% lower than in 2014”, he says.

For the German daily Reuters, in an article entitled “The Brazilian Nightmare”, Bolsonaro “not only encourages his supporters to protest against Justice. He also calls them to violence. It has become the biggest economic risk for the main economy in Latin America”, writes the newspaper. In turn, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reiterates the poor state of the economy, with rising unemployment and poverty. "It's been a while since hunger returned to Brazil, this country that a few years ago was treated as a model of ascension".

*Gilberto Lopes is a journalist, PhD in Society and Cultural Studies from the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR). author of Political crisis of the modern world (Uruk).

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves

 

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