Crime of responsibility and presidential conduct

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By JOÃO CARLOS BRUM TORRES*

The flagrant violation of the solemn duty assumed by the president when, upon taking office, he swore to “promote the general good of the Brazilian people”

Nine months ago, the video of the ministerial meeting on April 22, 2020 burst onto the political scene as the 62 million m3 of tailings from the Fundão dam. Certainly, the toxic effect of publicized words and images did not flow over Brazil in the same way, it did not have the enormous physical mass of Samarco's mud. But its destructive impact on the trust, values ​​and ideals that underpin democratic institutions has been no less. Beliefs, commitments, standards of civility, respect for the law, divergent opinions and ideas, health and peace are not measured in cubic meters. But this ideal dimension of life together has its own way of being dense.

The restoration of democracy cost us more and was slower than iron mining. It took us a quarter of a century to re-establish it and more than 30 years in which, amid setbacks and sad disappointments, we have been maintaining the course of our somewhat disjointed, but resilient democracy.

Already there, the flurry of profanity from the president to attack governors and mayors violated the “dignity, honor and decorum of office”, to use expressions from the law of crimes of responsibility (Law 1079/1950). But at that meeting there was something much more serious, the president's announcement that he would arm the people, which it has been doing continuously with the release of the purchase of weapons in parallel with a constant effort of political and emotional seduction of the Military Police and the incorporation of an unprecedented contingent of military personnel in the civil administration. How to understand it?

Is Brazil being invaded by a foreign power? Are democratic institutions being subverted by terrorist or insurrectionary movements? Are there separatist initiatives putting national unity at risk? Are our Armed Forces disunited?

The obvious impossibility of answering yes to any of these questions makes us think that the intention revealed in the government's intimacy had another logic: either it was a threat “to change the Republic's form of government through violence” or a case of structured paranoid delirium. Fortunately, so far these subversive intentions have not materialized, as the Judiciary, Congress, the major opinion-forming bodies, despite veiled or explicit threats, such as the recent declaration that it is the Armed Forces that decide whether or not to maintain the democracy, have managed to uphold our constitutional commitment to the institutions of representative democracy, preventing the action of right-wing assault groups, as seen recently in the US.

However, as if that were not enough, since then, although no longer has access to what is happening in the councils of power, Bolsonaro’s disservice to the country’s permanent interests has not been less ostensive or less serious. In fact, since then, without regrets, he has worked tirelessly and astutely to adapt the government and the civic culture of the country to his reactionary and authoritarian convictions. To disfigure them, if possible from the inside, but ready to put them down if that way is blocked. The ways of doing so and the fronts of action were many and there is no way to review them here. But it is necessary to highlight at least three of these lines of continued folly.

The first is the hyperideologized and erratic foreign policy, whose misdeeds range from the downgrading of the dignity of the Presidency of the Republic of Brazil contained in the subservient and ridiculous declaration of love for Trump, at a UN meeting, to the pathetic turn-arounds of the declarations, unofficial and officials, about China, Brazil's biggest trading partner.

The second, the manifest incompetence in dealing with the complex and slippery issues of environmental policy, whose damage to the environment and to Brazil's international image are extremely serious.

But the most serious of these damages lies in the flagrant violation of the solemn duty undertaken by the President when, upon taking office, he swore promote the general good of the Brazilian people. Or does the contempt with which Bolsonaro treats the pandemic not violate that oath disgracefully?

The indifference to the sick, to those who are not sick fear the disease, to those who do not fear it, but adopt the painful behaviors of social isolation in solidarity with others, the effects of his countless examples of sanitary and humanist lack of education are not proof that the president mistreat the Brazilian people? Firing two serious health ministers amid the very serious public health crisis, saying that the protection of the vulnerable is the responsibility of families, not the state, having had the most incompetent and dangerous of negotiations on vaccines, this is not admitting that everything What have the health services done in our defense or was it in their absence? When covid-19 has already killed more than 220 thousand people and in Amazonas euthanasia becomes a resource to avoid atrocious deaths by suffocation, isn't declaring that death awaits everyone a mockery of the suffering of Brazilians in this time of misfortune? Holding such positions against world public opinion does not seem to express an opinion only sustainable by the cold bronze of eugenics convictions?

Will it not end? Is that why you elect and keep a president?

*Joao Carlos Brum Torres is a retired professor of philosophy at UFRGS. He was Secretary of Planning for the government of Rio Grande do Sul (1995-1998 and 2003-2006). Author, among other books, of Transcendentalism and Dialectics (L&PM).

 

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