Dora Longo Bahia, Revoluções (calendar project), 2016 Acrylic, water-based pen and watercolor on paper (12 pieces) - 23 x 30.5 cm each


We need to move from indignation to action if we really want things to change.

In 2010, a 92-year-old French diplomat, Stéphane Hessel, then the only living drafter of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published a small book entitled be indignant. With more than two million copies soon sold in his country and editions in many others, this text inspired movements such as the “indignados” in Spain, in 2011, which filled the squares of that country shouting to the parties, deputies and senators, “you do not represent us”, which led to a new conformation of its political spectrum.

But we have been hearing and repeating for a long time in Brazil that it is not enough to be indignant at what we consider unacceptable – which is what we do not lack here today. And that it is necessary to move from indignation to action if we really want things to change.

However, taking action requires much more of us. It demands that we put aside some of life's pleasures. It requires being willing to change the routine of life, giving up tranquility - those who managed to have this privilege - and taking up a practice of militancy for a cause. It requires us to unite with other “indignants” to overcome the limitations of isolated actions and increase our strength. It requires accepting the demands of collective actions and being willing to face the consequences of the action – which in certain cases can be very harsh.

However, meeting such requirements is not that easy. And we end up letting ourselves be dominated by another behavior, even so that we can survive emotionally, that of “naturalizing” the unacceptable. We “get used” to it, that is, to “life as it is”, and we move the boat forward. And we begin to live with what provoked our indignation, until it fades and disappears, while no other reason to be indignant arises.

And that's how we seem to have fallen into a trap in Brazil. Even in the face of situations in which the unbearable has become extremely heavy, we are not being able to sit down together – at least those who are not obliged to fight for pure physical survival – to define some objectives, measures and actions on which to focus our joint civic strength , while continuing our specific struggles.

Not now, given the immediate challenge of preventing the turmoil that is being prepared for the elections not to take place, combined with attacks of all kinds on the Superior Electoral Court, in its mission to guarantee free and transparent elections. With that, the hopes of so many who saw them as a way out of getting rid of a president that the country did not deserve, with everyone who constituted, around him, a veritable bunch of opportunists and evildoers, could be frustrated.

Wouldn't we, too, be in need of an appeal like that of Stephan Hessel, urging us to be indignant – perhaps with even more force – but above all not to let the naturalization of the intolerable dampen our indignation? The old fighters of the long struggle against the dictatorship of 1964, who are still among us, could they not unite in a unison cry that would make this message penetrate deep into our hearts?

One of the hallmarks of the current president's election campaign was the gesture he made with his hands, imitating a gun. During his almost four years in office, he transformed that symbol into real weapons and ammunition, imported and smuggled in large quantities and distributed to those he deceived with lies spread through social networks that penetrated the homes of the unsuspecting.

This makes this appeal even more urgent, in the face of something worse that could happen, and which is certainly being gestated in the sick minds of the President of the Republic and his associates, if they fail to prevent the elections: in the face of results that will be unfavorable to them, will have scruples about causing chaos. And they will push the country towards a tragedy it has never experienced: that of violent confrontation between brothers. And as only one of the sides will be armed, this confrontation could turn into a massacre of those who oppose those in power today and of everyone they hate – like the ones that are already happening in some places in Brazil.

Even more, if this nightmare were to occur, we would have to prepare ourselves for what would crown these evil plans: a military intervention to re-establish social peace, and the realization of the “nation project” of the military that intend to be its tutors, which has until the well-defined final date of 2035, made public in a prestigious act by the general who now occupies the vice-presidency of the Republic. For the satisfaction of “Casa Grande” and those who, from inside and outside the country, dominate our economy and currently our political life, thinking only about profits. And leaving us, after all this is done, the herculean task of rebuilding what we had slowly conquered in the democratic interregnum that we are still living, since we got rid of the military dictatorship imposed in 1964.

Do we still have time to escape all this, or is it already too late? These are the harrowing questions that remain for us to ask. To answer them, it is perhaps worth remembering what we did and did not do during the term of a President who was the most unprepared and least reliable candidate in 2018, and who had been rejected by 61% of voters, considered the abstentions, blank and null votes and those given to his opponent. A president who, almost immediately after taking office, clearly defined, in an event at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, the main objective of his administration: “To destroy”.

The previous president – ​​who had taken power through an authentic parliamentary-media coup – had already started dismantling rights. By following it up and deepening it, he soon began to provoke our indignation, and the crimes of responsibility he committed justified calls for his impeachment. But we let these requests sleep on the table of the mayor. The image of the growing pile of papers ceased to move us little by little, until the requests reached more than one hundred and a half, to be kept in the archives of the Chamber.

As if the authors of each request had considered that they had done what they could do and that, once the requests were filed, they could return to their struggles and tasks, neither they nor we, who supported them, thought that perhaps it was necessary to put pressure on the deputies , although its majority had been elected in the same electoral wave as the President of the Republic (can we say, like the Spaniards, that they do not represent us?). That majority then elected, to prevent impeachment, one of the president's most faithful allies, with the task of also hastening the legislative dismantling of the country, as it still does today. And this one, to guarantee the votes of his venal colleagues, opens the doors of the treasury to them, with spurious operations such as “parliamentary amendments”, and even inventing a “secret budget”.

But we got used to all this (with “politics as it is”) and, accepting the impeachment of impeachment, many civil society organizations launched together a campaign with the cry “Fora” – which arrived on a banner to the summit of Everest – targeting the President of the Republic. But when they relied on large street demonstrations, their results were limited by the immobility resulting from the “naturalization” of what was happening, by the fear of contagion of Covid-19 in the agglomerations, and by the difficulties created by unemployment.

In the face of this, another path emerged to remove the president: prosecuting him for common crimes. Important civil society organizations then listed these crimes in representations to the Attorney General of the Republic, constitutionally charged with defending the interests of society. And the Senate also sent him a long report indicating the crimes of the President, after six months of work by a CPI that revealed, for the whole country, both corruption in the fight against Covid-19 and the president’s morbid association with the pandemic. , with actions and omissions that caused many more deaths than the disease alone would cause.

But the Attorney General, who was supposed to denounce the common crimes of the head of the nation to the Federal Supreme Court, seeing himself in a minority in the institution he heads, used his functional independence to not give continuity to any of these representations. It was thus clearly characterized that it had been placed there to be a second barrier of protection for the President of the Republic, complementary to that ensured by the President of the Chamber.

With that, he tarnished the history and image of the entire Public Ministry, but this one was also unable to react, not even in the face of the risk of becoming his boss's accomplice in the crime of prevarication that he committed. And an unfortunate preliminary decision by a minister of the Supreme Court in one of the processes being processed therein – a decision still to be validated by the plenary of the Court – guaranteed the functional independence of the Attorney General, as if it were not limited, at least by ethics. In turn, the Senate itself did not react accordingly, given the total disrespect for it with the shelving of its report. And he did nothing, despite being authorized by the Constitution to prosecute and remove the Attorney General.

Then, another proposal emerged in civil society: to pressure the Senate to fulfill its obligation to remove this Attorney General. But at this point, the silence of the Senate is also at risk of becoming “naturalized” (can we say that its members do not represent us either?), although the moral stature of the Attorney General – as low as that of the president, but both already “ naturalized” – is becoming known even outside the country.

Thus, among the powers of the Republic, the only one that still seems to refuse to self-destruct – if it succeeds in not validating the injunction that protected those who protect the president – ​​is the Federal Supreme Court. But his slowness to act is accepted by all, as is that of the entire judicial system. What gets worse with the entry into the Court of new justices viscerally linked to the president, who already use internal rules to immobilize it even more, when it comes to questioning the head of the nation. And while society in general does not dare to pressure it, nothing emerges within it that effectively confronts the real disaster that Brazil is experiencing, not even in the discussions in the rooms of its beautiful glass palace, built when barbarism was more distant. We can only hope that this palace does not collapse, if the President of the Republic, who often attacks its members even with words inappropriate to the decorum of his office, decides to repeat on September 7th the threats to the Federal Supreme Court that he already made on that date in the last year.

Meanwhile, from within society, many other resistance actions emerged – so many were the “herds” that the government tried to pass, continually surprising us. The problem is that each action was closed in its particular objectives, without being articulated. And many asked people to participate only through a “yes” of support, on the cell phone. We discussed all this very little among ourselves, isolated as we were because of the pandemic, despite the new possibilities created for distance intercommunication. For their part, the media, including the alternative ones, distracted us with analyzes by journalists and specialists of what was happening and with speeches by political leaders. And after the need for information and guidance on the pandemic was exhausted, they began to compete with each other in presenting information and interviews with personalities, taking up time that we could at least use for reflection.

More recently, the spectacle to entertain us has become that of politicians' cleverness and alliances to win the next elections. But little is said, in the declarations of candidates and in their programs, of what they will do to secure the most urgent civilizing pact in Brazil today, so that we do not experience the chaos of anomie: that criminals, from those who ordered the crimes to their executioners, do not remain unpunished.

In the midst of all this, we are outraged and moved – throughout Brazil and abroad – by the brutal murder of yet another FUNAI agent and an English journalist, by the predators of the Amazon that the President of the Republic protects and encourages. Bruno Pereira, the Funai agent, with deep knowledge of the region and persistent in his mission to defend the indigenous people, was brave enough to disturb the gangs that killed him and, barbarously, dismembered him and the journalist. Beloved by his work colleagues and by the indigenous people, whose languages ​​he spoke, he was only “disliked”, as the president dared to say, by the president himself and his supporters in his aim of destruction. Dom Philips, the journalist, experienced and serene in his love for the Amazon, did with determination what all his well-intentioned colleagues wished they could do: inform his readers of what really goes on behind the criminal silences that protect those who take benefit from the destruction of nature and the extermination of indigenous peoples.

May the cruelty of the murder of these new martyrs of the Amazon increase the intensity of our indignation – and the strength of our action – to the extent required by the gravity of what we are experiencing in Brazil today.

*Chico Whitaker is an architect and social activist. He was councilor in São Paulo. He is currently a consultant to the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace.


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