Arms crossed?

Image: Chait Goli
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By JEAN MARC VON DER WEID*

The millions of sane unarmedand úonly barrier against the thousands of armed

The terrorist demonstration in Brasilia points to an intensification of the coup tactics. It's been 47 days since the polls closed in the second round and not a day has gone by without anti-democratic attacks occurring, to a greater or lesser extent. First there were more than a thousand total or partial roadblocks. Democrats watched, complaining on social media and rooting for action by superhero Alexandre de Morais.

This first wave passed in ten days, without anyone being arrested. The state police looked to the side, the PRF said they had no money for gasoline for their cars and Xandão snored loudly, threatening the Bolsominions. Only the Corinthians and Atlético Mineiro fans had the courage to disperse the blockades. The brand of impunity set the tone for the sequence of acts.

Concentrations of demonstrators outside barracks in almost all state capitals (with the exception of tiny Macapá) and in several other cities became permanent camps. Democrats reacted on social networks, publicizing the madness of the Bolsominions and enjoying the aberrations, such as the national anthem sung in honor of a tire, the heaps of devotees praying to God on their knees in the rain and asking for salvation from the communist threat, banging their hands and heads against the walls of the barracks, shouting for the soldiers to save the Brazilian family. We laughed a lot and watched the delirium, believing that it was just a mimimi, a loser's cry.

Protesters were reduced on weekdays, but there were thousands on Saturdays and Sundays. The military forgot about the security perimeter surrounding the barracks and, first discreetly and then openly, began to support the acts, with the right to speeches and threats to anyone who wanted to interfere in the “rights of the people”, including direct threats to the judiciary. Bolsominions, encouraged by the inertia of the institutional reaction, began to attack anyone who wore a red shirt or who made fun of the crazy people. Moral attacks against members of the Federal Supreme Court, including directly in restaurants or other public places, were successive.

The big newspapers and TVs started to ignore the acts, thinking that without repercussions they would naturally diminish. Did not work. The commanders of the FFAA gave statements, defending the demonstrations, the vice-president and now senator, General Hamilton Mourão, did the same. The Bolsominions' social networks began to denounce four generals from the army's high command, whom they identified as the pole of military resistance to the coup. Xandão tightened the investigations of the instigators and financiers of the coup plotters, but the acts continued without rest.

And the Democrats? Lula sent envoys to negotiate with the Generalade. Immediately afterwards, he received the indication of a “trustworthy” name for Minister of Defense, José Múcio. Lula accepted the name as if it were his choice. Also negotiated were the names of the next commanders of the FFAA and Lula benefited from an unwritten rule among the military, appointing the most “senior”. He was lucky, because the Army was one of those accused of being “watermelon” (red inside). Democratic deputies and senators denounced the coup in Congress and filed requests for investigations at the STF. The magazine Fórum denounced General Heleno and the Institutional Security Secretariat of being the articulators of the movements. And nothing happened.

On the day of Lula's inauguration, Xandão gave a very tough speech, threatening the coup leaders with the "force of law", while the troublemakers marched from their headquarters, to the doors of the army headquarters, to the vicinity of the TSE. Ignoring the threats made, the coup plotters set buses and cars on fire, tried to launch a bus from the top of the viaduct, burned a police station and tried to invade the headquarters of the Federal Police. All this with the Federal District police sending one or two gas bombs and containing the group at a distance, “so as not to stir up tempers”, according to the commander. No one was arrested except for a renegade Indian, a cross between a shepherd and a drug dealer.

Brasília's act openly showed that Xandão does not have the power to carry out his threats. The Judiciary has no police power, no armed troops to carry out its mandates. Without the police and, at a higher level of confrontation, without the FFAA, the “force of law” is … zero. It can be said that the persistent Xandão was not intimidated and exacted his revenge a day later, ordering the Federal Police to arrest a hundred coup plotters in seven states. The PF fulfilled its function as a republican. It is a rare case at the present time and of the utmost importance. It shows that the institution, harassed and manipulated by Jair Bolsonaro throughout his government, did not fall into coup d'état, at least not completely.

There are those who estimate that the arrests did not include suspects from states like Rio de Janeiro, as there was no security regarding the behavior of the PF delegates stationed there. In any case, the prompt action ordered by the STF after the Brasília mini-insurrection could have an intimidating effect. It seems that the democrats are rooting for this to be true and, if it works and the coup impetus is broken, we will have to erect a statue for Xandão and give his name to avenues in all cities, as he will undoubtedly be , the savior, if not of the homeland, of the Republic.

The coup threat is being minimized by the pusillanimous behavior of the central character of the movement, Jair Bolsonaro. The president fell silent and disappeared, leaving his followers, literally, in the sun and rain. The Bolsominions felt the blow and the movement of cattle on social networks fell sharply. But none of that had any effect on the radicalized wing operating in these weeks of fighting. In a way, this sector anticipated the fall of Jair Bolsonaro's leadership, changing the demand for annulment of the vote for a direct military intervention, with the classic closures of Congress, the STF, and others.

The inertia of the energúmen left the coup without a national leadership, although there is an articulating power, probably General Augusto Heleno himself and the cabinet of hatred. But Augusto Heleno is not a leader, neither among the active duty military nor among the mass of orphaned Bolsominions of his inert myth. The general from the Institutional Security Office (what an irony!) apparently dropped the ball and sent a message to Lula with demands (!!!). Speaking on behalf of the FFAA, Augusto Heleno threatened Lula with the continuation of the military opposition. His demands do not matter, the same ones presented to Lula by the highest authorities in negotiations with the president's envoys. Augusto Heleno has no mandate from anyone to do what he did and his gesture indicates that the coup group at the doors of the barracks is isolating itself.

Without a centralized leadership, the coup depends on random factors. If the high command of the army were in favor of the coup, Jair Bolsonaro would already be sealing the doors of the STF and the STE, or would send “a corporal and a soldier” to do it, as he threatened his son Zero Anything even before the inauguration of the your father. With or without democratic convictions, the Army's High Command refused to carry out the coup. However, there is a strange situation since the elections. With Jair Bolsonaro out of the game, and the Minister of Defense and the three commanders of the FFAA flirting with the coup, who would have the power to order the barracks to comply with security regulations and disperse the camps and protesters outside the legal perimeter?

In the military hierarchy, the next level of command is that of generals at the head of military regions. But in order for the Army not to break apart, they would have to act together across the country, in agreement between all commanders in the regions. Decisions of this type involve meetings of the 16 generals of the High Command, coordinated by the Chief of Staff or by the Commander-in-Chief of the army. This is completely unlikely and this paralysis is giving strength to the indiscipline of the colonels at the head of the barracks. And the key question remains: would this order be obeyed?

It's not just a hypothetical question. If this mess persists until Lula takes office, we will have a frenzy of demonstrations, the scope of which we cannot assess, on the 1st. of January. And will the protesters cool down after the inauguration? Assuming that everything ends within “the four lines” and that the Bolsominions retreat defeated by the reality of “going up the ramp”, will they persist in the encampments and appeals to the soldiers? Lula has already said that he will order the cleaning of the surroundings of the barracks as soon as he takes office. Will it be obeyed?

What worries me about this painting is our passivity. We laugh and cry, we are indignant and amazed, we clap our hands for the super-Xandão, but we are not acting politically to support President Lula, both to ensure his inauguration and to stop future coup outbursts.

The only force within Lula's reach is that of the people who supported him in the elections, in particular the organized vanguard that campaigned for him. It is time to think politically and act. Lula's inauguration is the key moment, not only for the immediate confrontation with the coup leaders (who seem to be emptying and isolating themselves), but also for inhibiting future attempts. We have to mobilize as many protesters as possible across the country and the best way to do this is to call on the people to watch the inauguration on big screens in the squares of all cities and villages.

This could be the motto to summon all democrats to defend freedom and the institutions of the republic. It cannot be an act by the PT, but an act in defense of democracy, as was the case on August 11th. Time is very short, but it is not too late. The initiative must come from Lula himself or from the democratic front that elected him. A firm and well-publicized call in the mainstream media and social networks will have an immediate effect and the militants in each location will move to mark locations, rent big screens and publicize the acts. The unarmed millions are the only barrier against the armed thousands.

*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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