Lula – the return of ostracism

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By ANDRÉ SINGER*

The twists and turns of the Brazilian political tragedy.

“I don't break, no, because I'm soft” (Chico Buarque)

First act: Fachin rearranges the board

The hot and cloudy afternoon of Saturday, April 7, 2018, when Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, then 72 years old, was arrested at the ABC Metallurgists Union, in São Bernardo do Campo, marked a fatal moment in his former career. -worker converted into President of the Republic. No one, not even Obama's “guy”, goes unpunished for 580 days imprisoned under the shadow of grimy accusations. There ended a cycle.

It was in the period that opened, post-prison, that we saw the emergence of the current president Jair Bolsonaro, occupying the vacuum of popular leadership imprisoned in Curitiba. Behold, after three years, in which the emptiness of a politically effective opposition to the retired former soldier had been making the national air unbreathable, the miracle of resurrection happens. For that, it was not enough for Lula to be free. He had to be able to run in the presidential elections, which has always been his infallible weapon to be heard in Brazil.

Years ago, at the beginning of this endless crisis, a friend mentioned, with regard to Dilma Rousseff, the play Philoctetes, by Sophocles, whom I didn't know, about a victim of ostracism. Watching what happened in the 72 hours from Lula being rehabilitated to the end of his “epic” speech, the memory came back.

Without warning anyone, on Monday, March 08, with the death toll from Covid-19 growing non-stop, Edson Fachin, the enigmatic STF minister who supports Moro and Lula at the same time, played the role of Ulysses , not Guimarães, but the Greek, and took the exiled character from the desert island.

Perhaps, with the rehabilitation of Lulism, the Achaeans will conquer Troy, did the judge think? In the case of the Brazilian tragedy, whether you like Lula's past or not, on the left or on the right, the role now assigned to him is that of saving democracy. The democratic regime is the only way to return to having not the resolution of all problems, something that, we know, only occurs in fairy tales (and playwrights do not believe in them), but a minimum of rationality in the conduct of the State.

It should be noted that Fachin's reservation was such that even Lula, scheduled from one hour to the next, was taken by surprise. What gave him some space for the indispensable warm-up was the arrival on the scene of another member of the STF, whose long streak against Lava Jato explains, in part, the spectacular move of the colleague who made a career in Paraná.

Yes, because the day after Fachin's decision, when Lula was already announcing the press conference that he was forced to postpone, Gilmar Mendes, fencing the judgment of Moro's suspicion, forcibly took center stage to tell, on national television, how the former self-appointed head of Lava Jato, a kind of guardian of the Tower of London – in the famous expression of another Sérgio (Machado) –, had plotted with prosecutors and police to incriminate and condemn Lula and, who knows, in step, proclaim, in shudder of laws, an independent Republic in Paraná.

Anyway, backed by Ricardo Lewandowski, Mendes ended up morally undermining the decision taken by Fachin in the previous “take”. (If this piece weren't so short, it would be interesting to explore the dispute for protagonism between its excellencies. That's for another opportunity).

But, despite the interest provoked by Mendes' oratory, which spared no reference even to his own scandalous decision to prevent Lula from taking over as head of the Civil House in March 2016, Fachin stole the spotlight, as the main thing was resolved: until Monday order, Lula is a candidate. Perhaps this explains, in part, Fachin's sudden democratic access. Anticipating Gilmar, Fachin tried to save Moro from suspicion.

After all, Kassio Nunes Marques, debuting as the first nominee by Bolsonarism to the STF, asked for a review of the process, with which he postponed the probable conviction of “constant” curitibano, which would avenge all those who have a luster denounce in vain the flagrant illegalities committed in the local version of the London tower.

From a political point of view, the procedural step determined by Nunes Marques is secondary. Much water will flow under the legal bridge until the 2022 campaign, and no one can know for sure what will happen, not even if Lula will actually be a candidate. The important thing is that Lula is back as a candidate now and, of course, was recognized by Mendes and Lewandowski (but Cármen Lúcia also pronounced a resounding “very serious” during Gilmar's speech), the condition of victim of a macabre frame.

Before moving on to the second and final episode of this summary work, it is worth noting that Fachin carefully prepared the “Ippon” from the 8th of March. A month earlier, he gave an interview to Folha full of strong messages, the scope of which is only now understood.

On the occasion, Fachin criticized the “remilitarization of the civilian government” promoted by Bolsonaro; he warned of “intimidation of closure by the other Powers”; he recalled the attack on the US Congress, which took place on January 6, to say: “There was no adhesion of political leaders to the attempted coup and there was no illegitimate action by the Armed Forces”.

Finally, he declared, so that there were no doubts left: “As vice president of the TSE and as a future president who will prepare the 2022 elections, I am extremely concerned about the threats that democracy is suffering in Brazil and with what it can result of the 2022 elections”.

Second act: Lula sees an avenue and goes for the goal

As the general scenario was one of the worst, the atmospheric conditions for the lulist re-entry were excellent. The denialist management of the pandemic turned Brazil into a possible global greenhouse for coronavirus variants. With more than 2.000 deaths per day, a record since Covid-19 began to spread, patients die waiting for a place in ICUs, doctors are forced to choose between those who have the best chance of surviving, and corpses are packed in containers .

With the government delay in purchasing vaccines, only 5,8% of citizens received the first dose. In the United States, another nation run by a denialist until last January 20, almost 20% of the population was vaccinated. Here, the responsibility of the Minister of Health, nicknamed General Nightmare in Congress, according to a TV commentator, is investigated in the STF.

Bolsonaro's refusal to promote social isolation, with the economy as a flag, did not work either. While China, which opted for tough confinement measures, managed to grow 2,3% in 2020, Brazil lost 4,1% of GDP. As a result, unemployment rose from 11,9% to 13,5%.

The picture described would be enough to brighten the “return” of any exile. It was enough to show some empathy with the people and list a minimum program – vaccine, employment and school – to do well.

But Lula, in the speech he delivered on Wednesday (March 10), between the end of the morning and the long lunch, did much more. In addition to appearing in the shoes of the anti-Bolsonaro, with the explicit use of a mask, making a point of asking for medical advice before taking it off to speak, and listing international contacts to contrast the green-yellow isolation, he disarmed the spirits, speaking of the suffering he went through. There, Lula acted like a Churchill, stirring the emotions of those who saw him, from the offices of Faria Lima to the corners of this endless nation.

He began by telling a true parable that, according to the magazine Time, consists of The Autobiography of the Slave-Poet”, by Juan Francisco Manzano, published in 1840, the only material of its kind written by a Latino (Cuban). After receiving 98 lashes, the slave is faced with the alternative of saving the last two if he thanks the master. He prefers to take the missing ones rather than give in to the dominant ones. Message: my tormentors made me suffer a lot, but they couldn't break me; I kept my dignity.

Then, aware that he had shown himself to be in one piece, that is, fit to govern, the candidate stated the unexpected: I have no grudges against anyone. Life goes on. Re-elected, he will literally talk to everyone: businessmen, financiers, military, trade unionists, the landless, the homeless, journalists, identity leaders. He opened up a curious exception for media owners, from whom he said he preferred to keep some distance, refusing private lunches.

The reactions to the pronouncement show that Lula, in football language, received the ball from Fachin and saw an open avenue, taking it straight to the goal. In a matter of minutes, the media began to report that Bolsonaro, affected by the return of the former head of state, had started to wear a mask in public ceremonies.

Hamilton Mourão, who in 2018 spoke of self-coup, became a democrat by stating that "if the people want Lula's return, patience". João Doria recognized that Lula (and Bolsonaro) have “a strong political and electoral density”. Rodrigo Maia, even criticized by Lula for not having put the impeachment to a vote, made a point of emphasizing that the PT leader has a vision of the country and “respects and defends democracy”.

What happened? Did the Brazilian Joe Biden emerge? Not yet. It turns out that the precise lineup of Fachin, followed by the demonstration that the player was in shape, erected a temporary containment dam for Bolsonaro and his postmodern far-right follies.

Faced with the possibility of an alternation of power in 2022, the Planalto occupants realized that they cannot do anything. They are limited, which is the essence of modern democracy. Today's ruler will be on the plain tomorrow. Therefore, he needs to be afraid.

Of course, in practice, nothing will be as simple as the passes from above seem to promise between the second (8) and fourth (10). On the ground of reality, the sociopolitical fabric has been occupied by increasingly aggressive and predatory groups.

The Clube Militar note in repudiation of Lula's return shows that the military, completely out of politics between 2003 and 2010, entered the arena (pass the pun) for real. Now that the paste is out of the tube, who is going to put it back in?

It is clear that Bolsonaro, like Trump, will threaten a coup if he loses the 2022 election. The day after Fachin's decision, the president declared: “No problem. I would like to face anyone, if I come as a candidate, with an electoral system that can be audited”. Despite the strange presidential syntax, when Fachin gave the interview to Folha in February, he warned that this would happen. With Lula on the stand, Bolsonaro, if he loses, will say there was fraud. How will the military react?

Fachin knows what he's talking about. In April 2018, followed by Cármen Lúcia, Luiz Fux, Luís Roberto Barroso, Alexandre de Moraes and Rosa Weber, he led the refusal of habeas corpus that could have opened the door for Lula to appear in the polls already that year, perhaps saving us , of this agonizing crossing.

The case's rapporteur, argued "absence of illegality, abusiveness or teratology" in the decision to arrest Lula, even after the Army commander threatened the court the day before (or "warned", as he preferred to reaffirm in the book General Villas Bôas: conversation with the commander (FGV Editor).

final chorus

"Last but not least”, so that people don’t say I didn’t talk about flowers (space is over). In the midst of military tension, the “market” will use all kinds of blackmail so that Lula, if he is a candidate, assumes a commitment to a fiscal balance that will prevent him from generating the jobs, steak and beer that he promised the “sleepwalking populace” in his speech. from Wednesday.

If present conditions are maintained, the seventh life of Lulism will imply that Brazil will celebrate 200 years as an independent nation, and eternally half-built, in the midst of a campaign, this one indeed, epic.

* André Singer is a professor of political science at USP. Author, among other books, of The meanings of Lulism (Companhia das Letras).

Originally published in the newspaper Folha de S. Paul.

 

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