Jair Bolsonaro in Paulista

Image: Vinicius Nascimento


In the event yesterday in São Paulo, the former president tries to transform his crimes into a political dispute, and in addition to cohesion and unify allies nationally with a view to the October elections

What is the impact on the situation of the public demonstration called by Jair Bolsonaro this Sunday (February 25) on Avenida Paulista?

I was there and walked along its entire length, back and forth, twice. I was impressed. There were four blocks packed with people. There were points, in the block where the sound truck was located, where the compaction made passage almost impossible. In an impressionistic assessment, I would venture to say that just over two thirds of the mass was made up of middle-middle class, white people.

The remainder appeared to be lower middle class (poor), with a significant presence of black and brown people. It wasn't a protest by high-class people from Jardins. There were four governors and a few dozen parliamentarians on the stage. Tarcísio de Freitas has reinforced policing and there are reports that caravans have arrived from the interior and other states. There seems to be no shortage of money.

What is the metric to evaluate the event? There are at least three essentials: (i) Knowing if there was a significant audience; (ii) What Jair Bolsonaro intended with the initiative and (iii) Compare it with the organizational possibilities of the left.

Let's look at the first variable. Even if he didn't put the 700 on the asphalt that some of his supporters boasted – it's possible that just under 200 showed up – the sum isn't negligible. Above all, the aerial photo of Paulista full of people is worth it.

Everything indicates that Jair Bolsonaro wanted to show strength and remove the accusations he faces from the legal field – which is unfavorable to him – and move them to the political field, in which he can obtain a good result. Surrounded by lawsuits, the former president is absolutely correct in taking to the streets. A possible arrest, like Lula's, depends on the creation of a political environment that weakens his legitimacy and makes him vulnerable to the courts. The PT member was only imprisoned after years of merciless media campaign, unfounded accusations by Lava Jato, disastrous PT choices in government and the 2016 coup.

Dona Michelle's husband grew stronger on the sunny São Paulo afternoon. It sends the message that it is not a card outside the deck, even if it is ineligible. More than anything, it shows that the political weight of the Brazilian extreme right is not small.

If the goal of showing crowd support has been achieved, the second objective has little chance of coming to fruition. As Valter Pomar points out, Jair Bolsonaro proposes an agreement that frees his face and this was explicit in his speech. Before going into the merits of what the former president said to the microphone, it is necessary to briefly focus on the direction of the show, or the stage choreography.

The main speakers were three, in addition to Jair Bolsonaro. Leading the line was Michelle, demonstrating fidelity to her husband – she canceled a trip to the USA – and preaching an emotional, supposedly religious song. Next, we had Tarcísio de Freitas, host and possible heir to the chief's political estate, guaranteeing his rectitude of character. And lastly and most importantly, Silas Malafaia, a mix of smart guy and spiritual guru, for whom Jair Bolsonaro outsourced the barrage of attacks on the Supreme Court, the TSE, Lula, the PT, Alexandre de Moraes and whoever else was in front of him. . In the middle of his sentence, he highlighted in an almost apocalyptic tone: “Jair Messias Bolsonaro is the greatest political persecutor in our history”.

Once the ground was cleared, the nominee was free to try a path without aggression and insults, almost a “Jairzinho peace and love”. And he came across as tremendously defensive and vulnerable. In 22 minutes of surprisingly articulate speech by the former captain's standards, he spoke about his childhood, life in the Army, his parliamentary experience, his achievements in the presidency, he attacked communism, gender ideology, abortion and he listed a list of commonplaces of national fascism that make his electorate happy. He also highlighted the importance of the municipal election and denied having plotted a coup. While wandering around, he took the opportunity to insist on his victimhood: “I’ve been hit since before the 2018 elections.”

After the corniness, let's get to what matters: seeking what you call conciliation and pacification. “It’s erasing the past. It's looking for ways for us to live in peace. It’s about not continuing to be startled.”

The harangue goes on: “Now, we ask all 513 deputies and 81 senators for an amnesty project so that justice can be done in our Brazil.” And he mentions the possible beneficiaries, “These poor things who were there on January 8, 2023”. But the altruism of the ace of the moticiatas soon reveals the true objective: “I also want to say that we cannot agree that a power can remove anyone from the political stage. Unless it’s for an extremely fair reason.”

Here the former president takes care of the subtleties. His goal is finally revealed in full: to get rid of almost twenty judicial charges – together with the high command of the coup –, transforming the case into a political dispute, appealing to Congress – which has the constitutional prerogatives to do so – and not to the STF. The project of the act thus has a beginning, middle and end. In this attempt to show strength, it is possible that it will seek to hold similar demonstrations in other capitals.

The media's behavior throughout the day was cautious. Even Fantástico, the main Sunday attraction of Globo, framed the news in a three-minute report, almost at the end of the program, in which there was no shortage of mention of the accusations against Jair Bolsonaro. As communication corporations have been met in almost all of their demands from the federal government – ​​fiscal framework, advertising funds, predominance of private foundations in education, non-reversal of privatizations and reforms by Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro – their directors may possibly assess no This is the time to break with the current management.

Finally, from the point of view of the left, it is important not to underestimate the strength of the extreme right. Since Lula III took office, what is generally understood as progressivism has not placed an equivalent contingent in the public square. Despite his defensiveness, Jair Bolsonaro acts competently in seeking to change the terrain of his confrontation from Justice to Congress. It is difficult for him to win amnesty, but it is also unlikely that he will be arrested in the short term. There is a secondary objective in this whole plot: the most illustrious resident of the Vivendas da Barra condominium tries to cohere and unify allies nationally with a view to the October elections.

There is one last piece missing from this puzzle. So far there has not been a vigorous campaign from the left against the extreme right. On the contrary: Bolsonarism is in the government and in Congress, negotiating positions and prebends. There is plenty of arrogance, carelessness and lack of direction in progressive fields. The celebration of January 8th at the Planalto Palace was limited to a party intended to raise awareness of the coup upstairs. We continue to place all our expectations on Xandão.

The left ends up making a lawfare with a changed signal when knocking on court doors in the face of any controversy. Although Lula has raised the tone in foreign policy, his behavior is not followed by the majority of his party or allied groups. With rare exceptions, PT ministers, senators and deputies avoid taking a stance on this issue.

It is not enough to complain, curse, make jokes, disqualify, offend and direct vituperation at fascism Made in brazil. It is necessary to confront him politically, remove him from the government, assume real command of the armed forces and better define who his allies and enemies are. I know it's easy to say, but there's no other way.

*Gilberto Maringoni is a journalist and professor of International Relations at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC).

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