What will the coup in Brazil be like?

Alex Katz, Night Branch, 1994.


The coup has already been announced by the president of the republic. It is he or someone on his behalf who will strike the blow

Who will carry out the coup in Brazil? With that title Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos published his book in 1962[I] just two years before the April 1964st 2022 coup. In XNUMX the question is not who, but how. Of course, one can ask about support: police, militia, “popular” or military. But the coup has already been announced by the president of the republic. It is he or someone on his behalf who will deliver the blow.

The Defense Minister's statement on June 10, 2022, confronting the TSE reinforced the army's total alignment with the Bolsonaro government. After 25 years of electronic voting, now the military has become suspicious of the electoral process. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the politicization of the army, as it never ceased to act politically in favor of its corporate privileges and the interests of the United States. The only novelty in recent years was the discovery of its low cultural level and technical unpreparedness.[ii]

Unlike 1964, no coup force has the project or willingness to exercise a dictatorship and the coup could very well take place in what Maringoni called “the xepa mode” that “has no plan, project or script”.[iii]



So there is no parallel to what happened in 1964. Perhaps the most similar to the shape of the new Rebellion be it the 1938 integralist revolt because Bolsonarism, like Plinio Salgado's Green Chickens, is a mass phenomenon and a bizarre set of incoherent ideas of a fascist nature.

The attempt to seize power on May 10, 1938 had the support of the liberal opposition to the Vargas government, such as some former leaders of the 1932 São Paulo uprising (Júlio de Mesquita Filho, for example). The most serious thing, however, was the fact that Severo Furnier's troops[iv] surrounded the Guanabara Palace without resistance from the police or the armed forces. Only the president's personal garrison led by Benjamin Vargas and Gregório Fortunato (former combatants against the 1932 São Paulo revolt) resisted.

That night, the Army did nothing and only intervened in defense of the government after hours of passivity, waiting for an outcome that could have meant the death of Getúlio Vargas. Finally, Eurico Gaspar Dutra quelled the integralist intent. Until today we are not sure what was behind the military inaction, but the attack on Vargas can be seen as an opportune instrument for a coup by the army itself, which was already in power, but could get rid of the dictator and the Integralists; or even sign a commitment with Plinio Salgado, who had many sympathies among the military.


Bang to Capitol

The blow to be struck in Brazil lacks a strategy, but paradoxically has an objective: to deepen the destruction of the Brazilian state. An alternative, therefore, would be a chaotic coup like the one attempted by Donald Trump in the United States.

On January 6, 2021, hours before the US Congress met to ratify the results of the previous year's elections, President Donald Trump held a political act with his supporters a few blocks away. With the theme “Save the USA”, the event was the culmination of a long campaign to discredit the US electoral process – by the way, much less organized than the Brazilian process. On stage, leading figures of Trumpism, such as the former mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani – until the 2000s, a model of “manager” preferred among Brazilian liberals – urged the crowd to intervene in the session that would be presided over by the vice president Mike Pence. “Fight like the devil,” then President Donald Trump said.

Before he even finished his speech, a group of costumed protesters began heading towards the Capitol building. At the same time, Mike Pence opened the session by reading a letter in which he made it clear that he would not embark on Donald Trump's adventure. Over the next hour, without encountering resistance, the demonstrators began to gather and advance towards the interior of the building. It is noteworthy that the security officers most resistant to the fascist horde were black, as can be seen in the scenes of the documentary Four hours at the capitol, by director Jamie Roberts. It is impossible not to think how, in addition to the ideological commitment between the security forces and fascism, there was not also a racial alliance there. Just compare the repression of the police forces to the black movement with the events in the Capitol.

With deputies, senators and advisors running around in despair, being pushed back and forth by security guards in suits and with communication points in their ears, just like in the movie Don't look up when the meteor approaches, the session has been interrupted. One of the most protected buildings in the world has been taken over by a veritable Brancaleone army. In the aforementioned documentary, just as impressive as the revelry made by the demonstrators – a mixture of teenage delinquency and a tour of middle-class tourists – was the cowardice of the US political class.

The scenes that starred during the invasion, but mainly the testimonies given by senators, deputies and advisors later for the documentary are extremely demoralizing and embarrassing. Nothing different from the outcome of the adventure. After hours of occupation, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and elected candidate Joe Biden went on national television to plead with Trump to back down. The president went online and, after celebrating the invasion, asked the protesters to go home.

However, not always the most spectacular is the most important. Of course, the failure of Donald Trump on January 6th has other reasons, such as the lack of support among his own party members and resistance from the top of the US Armed Forces.[v]

Jair Bolsonaro, unlike Donald Trump, seems to have much more backers for his coup. If Bolsonaristas decide to do something similar, whether in the Federal Supreme Court, in the Superior Electoral Court or in the Chamber of Deputies, unlike the fascists of 1938, they will not be confronted by any repressive force, even if belatedly. Perhaps the complicity of the security forces is even more striking here than in the US. Bolsonaro can restrict himself to threats, riots, street protests and followers provoke ridiculous skirmishes. Even so, and bearing in mind the degree of commitment of the Brazilian security forces to the president and his secular genocidal vocation, this staging could cause many more deaths and injuries than the Trumpist adventure. On the periphery, violence always tends to extremes.



Whatever the form, a march, riot, invasion or even the most effective military parade with troops surrounding the three powers, an attempted coup, even the most ridiculous one, is serious. It further erodes the institutional legitimacy of power and constrains the next president to live with an explicitly opposing armed force.

The march on Rome in 1922 was also a comic march by a poorly armed resentful mass that could have been easily routed by the Italian army, but the Fascists already had cronies in the state and the ruling classes were paralyzed. And as in Brazil, there was no revolutionary threat, since the red biennium had been defeated and the communist party was very small. They feared more the electoral growth of reformist socialism, a force disinterested in any revolution and unable to resist fascism.

Four hours at the Capitol ends with a series of images of FBI agents serving arrest warrants against January 6 leadership. If the idea was, as in much of American fictional cinema, to show that liberal institutions are capable of correcting any deviation, threat and injustice, the truth is that these scenes bring a strong remembrance of the final sequence of the serpent's egg, by Ingmar Bergman. The police operation to disrupt Professor Hans Vergérus' experiments is nothing more than pyrotechnics, incapable of stopping forces that have already been set in motion. In Brazil, there are doubts whether even the simulacrum of repression and imprisonment will happen.

* Lincoln Secco He is a professor in the Department of History at USP. Author, among other books, of History of PT (Atelier).

*Fernando Sarti Ferreira he holds a doctorate in economic history from USP.

Originally published at www.holofotenoticias.com.br/.



[I] Out by the collection notebooks of the Brazilian people of Civilização Brasileira publishing house. The collection was directed by Álvaro Vieira Pinto and Ênio Silveira and the cover design of the original edition was by Eugênio Hirsch.

[ii] In this regard, see the article by José Luís Fiori and William Nozaki, in https://aterraeredonda.com.br/o-facasso-dos-militares/

[iii] https://www.diariodocentrodomundo.com.br/xepa-fase-superior-do-bolsonarismo-por-gilberto-maringoni/

[iv] Caron, E. the new state. São Paulo: Difel, 1977, p. 270.

[v] Journalists Carol Leonning and Philip Rucker, in a book called I Alone Can Fix It, report the dealings made by Mark Miley, head of the US Armed Forces High Command, during the January 2021 journeys. The book was widely publicized in the Brazilian press, but remains unpublished in our country.

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