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Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin


The fundamental premise of a democratic pact

“It seems that the time is coming for Brazilian society to get rid of these “savior myths” and return its military personnel to their barracks and their constitutional functions. Assume once and for all, with courage and with your own hands, the responsibility of building a new country that has your face, and that is made in your image and likeness, with its great defects, but also with its great virtues.” (José Luís Fiori, under the rubbleOn the earth is round).

At the turn of the year, José Luís Fiori published an article of great national repercussion, where he diagnoses the advanced process of physical and moral destruction of the country, in these last two years, and defends the thesis that the gigantic failure of the government of Mr. Bolsonaro is inseparable from the Brazilian Armed Forces (FFAA), which is today the last major support of a government that is, in fact, ultimately, a military government.

A government that was born out of an operation supervised by the former head of the FFAA at the time, and which was later literally occupied by a battalion of around eight thousand active and reserve soldiers who have been demonstrating absolutely inept for the exercise of government, during these two years in which they maintained in power an “aggressive, crude and despicable psychopath, surrounded by a bunch of scoundrels with no moral principles, and true ideological buffoons who together pretend to govern Brazil for two years”.

A week after Professor Fiori's article was published, Mr. Bolsonaro confirmed the professor's diagnosis, by publicly declaring that "Brazil is broke and he can't do anything", one of the most sincere confessions known from a ruler who recognizes his own failure and at the same time declares himself incapable. to face the destruction wrought by his government, during the time when – instead of governing – he was personally dedicated to attacking people and institutions and making fun of the suffering and death of his own fellow citizens.

A statement that was made on the same day, in fact, in which active-duty general and health minister Eduardo Pazuello, stunned the country to announce that it has neither a date nor a vaccination plan, even if it was only to psychologically reassure Brazilian society. all of this, Professor Fiori finally calls on Brazilian society to take the destiny of its country into its own hands, giving up on the “great saviors” and sending the military back to the barracks, due to their current resounding failure, but above all because they have no the slightest technical and intellectual preparation to lead a state and govern a society of the size and complexity of Brazil. In other words, for Professor Fiori, this government and its failure must be charged to the military and there is no possibility of rebuilding Brazilian democracy without all its political actors giving up definitively and forever to appeal to the military to make what they don't know and do very badly..

And in fact, since he was elected, Jair Bolsonaro has never made a point of hiding or omitting his debt to the Armed Forces – “you are one of those responsible for my being here”, said the president captain to the then General Eduardo Villas Boas if referring to his election.

In the last two years, this dependence has intensified, within the government, the break between Bolsonarism and legal laundering, the loss of relative strength of ideological Olavism, added to tensions with part of the mainstream press and the discomfort of part of the business community, have created an environment re-accommodation of forces that resulted in the expansion of spaces occupied by the military in the government. With each new ideological clash defeated, with each new suspicion of corruption and illicit acts involving the Bolsonaro clan and with each new public policy error by civilians, the military advanced at least one space on the board. Thus, sometimes under the effect of unrestricted adherence, sometimes under the argument of harm reduction, the military positioned themselves as guarantors and guardians of the Bolsonaro government.

This movement did not suffer any effective resistance from sectors of civil society and gradually became normalized and naturalized. While a portion of political actors on the left believed in the myth that the Brazilian military was nationalist or statist, a portion of political actors on the right reiterated the idea that the military would be politically immune to corruption and technically superior in terms of management. Big mistake. This mythology has its origins in the recognized role played by the military in the formation of the State and in the development of industrialization throughout the XNUMXth century.

But yesterday's soldiers are not the same as today's. Since the liberal-conservative victory during the dictatorship period, what prevails in terms of geopolitics is the defense of automatic alignment with the US government. This choice freed up a large part of our military personnel from committing themselves to the formulation of national strategies, freeing up time and energy so that they could focus primarily on corporate interests in the barracks. In addition to being “neoliberal” or “neodevelopmentalist”, the Brazilian military became corporatist.

It is in this spirit that a significant part of the military has advanced within the Bolsonaro government. The current Esplanada dos Ministérios has been occupied by an exorbitant number of uniforms in the first echelon of the government, they are 11 of the 23 ministers.

Let's look at some of the problems in ministries headed by military personnel. How is it possible to trust the ethical and moral superiority of a Civil House that conducts ministerial meetings as disqualified as the one that went public last year? How can one believe in the strategic competence of a GSI that does not identify drugs on FAB planes and a minister who allows himself to be recorded in a private conversation by the press? How can one believe in the republican spirit of a Government Secretariat that admits interference in the Federal Police or in a General Secretariat minister who welcomes the personal interests of the presidential family? How is it possible to sustain the national vocation of a Science and Technology portfolio that is rapidly dismantling and that is not strategically positioned on a crucial issue such as 5G technology? How to defend the innovative spirit of a Mines and Energy area impacted by dismantling and blackouts? How to bet on Transparency in a government driven by fake news? How to admit that the Infrastructure area has such refractory positions against public investments? How to accept a vice-presidency that is responsible for relations with China and for the Amazon in a period when the country has most strained its dialogue with the Asian country and has broken records of deforestation and fires?

For all these reasons, it is no longer possible to exempt the military wings from responsibility and complicity with the disaster carried out by Bolsonaro. The case of the current Minister of Health, General Eduardo Pazuello, is one of the most emblematic in demystifying the military's supposed aura of political, intellectual and administrative competence.

Pazuello handed over command of the 12th Military Region, but refuses to go to the reserve, creating an undesirable mix between the Armed Forces and the Executive Branch. The general does not even master the knowledge that should make up his military repertoire, does not understand geography (when dealing with the spread of the pandemic, he associated winter in the northern hemisphere of the globe with the Northeast region of Brazil), does not understand the State (he stated that he does not did not know the SUS), does not understand planning (no longer coordinating the actions of federal entities), does not understand distribution (left more than 6,8 million tests against COVID-19 to expire in stock) and does not understand logistics (delayed the definition of the purchase of syringes, needles and supplies for the vaccine).

The problem gets worse when we look at the other levels of government. It is estimated that there are more than 8450 reserve and 2930 active military personnel working in different areas and hierarchical levels of government, with emphasis on the planning, budget and logistics sectors of the ministries. Some sensitive areas undergo an intense process of militarization, in socio-environmental management there are more than 90 military personnel allocated in areas such as Funai, Ibama, ICMBio, Sesai, Incra, Mapa, Funasa, FCP, in addition to the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture , Livestock and Supply. At the Ministry of Health during the pandemic period alone, at least 17 military personnel were appointed.

The picture is no different in state-owned companies and municipalities, there is a plethora of military personnel appointed in most of them: Amazul, Caixa, Casa da Moeda, Chesf, Correios, CPRM, Dataprev, EBC, Ebserh, Eletrobras, Emgepron, EPL, Finep, Imbel, INB, Infraero, Nuclep, Petrobras, Serpro, Telebras, Valec. In many of these companies, the tone goes against the general line of the government's own economic policy, instead of divestments, some were awarded with capitalization, instead of privatization, it is indicated that some should only go through mergers.

Such a presence has already guaranteed the military important international defense agreements, ratifying the automatic alignment with the US, in addition to expanding the Ministry of Defense budget and strengthening projects and companies linked to it. Furthermore, there is no lack of corporate gains for arms: social security privileges, such as full retirement and without a minimum age, real wage adjustments of around 13%, which did not occur with the minimum wage, and increases in additional payments, bonuses and miscellaneous bonuses , in state-owned companies, for example, payment of jetons for military personnel rose by around 9,7% in 2020, not to mention additional and cumulative earnings with positions of trust and adjacencies. The breadth of corporate gains and personal earnings indicates that the military will not automatically or voluntarily return to the barracks, whatever the next administration.

The picture should cause concern even within the Armed Forces themselves. For the good reputation and trust that the military enjoys in public opinion rivals every day with the fingerprints printed by uniforms on government mistakes. In addition, by accepting the mismanagement of the current foreign policy, the military put themselves in a subordinate position for dialogue with the USA, China, the European Union and even with some neighboring countries.

Therefore, in times when the possibilities of building a broad or popular front are being debated, the defense of a “free, independent and autonomous” Legislative Branch and the reconstruction of a State that promotes “life, health, work and rights” we fully agree with Fiori's thesis that the consolidation of a “live and strong democracy” in Brazil requires a pact that ensures the return of the military to the barracks and to their constitutional functions. This is not just one of the terms for resuming the country's popular and national sovereignty, it is, before that, the fundamental premise of a new country that collectively assumes itself in its own hands, dispensing with the saving intervention of uniforms, cassocks or pajamas as says Fiori at the end of his article.

*William Nozaki Professor of Political Science and Economics at the São Paulo School of Sociology and Politics Foundation (FESPSP).


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