the confrontation

Clara Figueiredo, Mercato Domenicale Porta Portese, Balilla_ one for 15,00, three for 30,00 euros, Rome, 2019


It is necessary to process and arrest the large fish from the 8th of January

It is very good that the federal government promotes this Monday the solemn act in defense of “Unshakable Democracy”. It will take place in the Senate to mark the first anniversary of the January 8 coup attempt and will be attended by the presidents of the three Powers, governors, mayors, parliamentarians and other authorities. But, given the carriage's pace, it risks being an event that is strident in form and pasteurized in content. On the other hand, the extreme right makes noise to assert its view of the facts.

Let's start with the act. The expectation is that in the halls of the Legislature, praise will be made for an abstract democracy and that accusations will be made against those most clearly responsible for the coup action. They are the lumpesinato that set it to pieces – and that threatened to blow up a truck at the entrance to Brasília airport – and shady mid-level figures, such as the governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis Rocha, his former Secretary of Security, Anderson Torres, and the commander of the local Military Police. Jair Bolsonaro, of course, will be on the tip of the tongue of some of the speakers, among whom Lula himself, representatives of the Chamber, the Senate and the STF will stand out.

It is possible that the line adopted is that the attempted coup was the work of medium-sized agricultural businessmen and gas station owners, together with the gang camped outside the barracks since the end of 2022. These would be the ones who intended to hang Minister Alexandre de Moraes, close the STF, overthrow the newly elected government and establish a dictatorship, shouting “Myth!”.

If we look at the experiences of violent exchange of power in Brazil and in the neighborhood, it quickly becomes obvious that a real coup cannot be improvised. It's a big dog's game, not a troublemaker's game. In Brazil in 1964, in Chile in 1973, in Argentina in 1976 and in Venezuela in 2002, very similar social groups, with local variations, came together to block societies, take power, change regimes and repress discontent. These sectors were always the armed forces, the US embassy, ​​big business, the leadership of the Catholic Church and the corporate media.

Spreading the idea that slippery feet fueled by steak and free beer, even if led by a genocidal killer, would put an end to such an undertaking means making light of other people's intelligence. There seems to be a smokescreen operation to save the face of more qualified people. Assuming, for example, that the military prevented a coup on January 8, 2023 due to its deep-rooted democratic faith, as several authorities repeat, implies traveling first class in mayonnaise.

Interestingly, this has been the unifying feature of the speeches of different characters, such as minister Alexandre de Moraes and the head of Defense, José Múcio Monteiro. They don't seem to remember that former Defense Minister Paulo Sérgio Nogueira joined the then president Jair Bolsonaro, shortly before the presidential elections, in raising the issue that there would be a “relevant risk” in electronic voting machines, suggesting a “technical investigation” into the equipment . Or that the cover-up of the vandals at the barracks doors was the responsibility of several military commanders. Let's face it: what made the Bolsonarist coup unfeasible was the lack of external support – the Joe Biden government made its opposition clear – and the division of big capital, the largest fraction of which had embarked on the Lula candidacy shortly before the October elections.

It is true that Moraes highlighted, in a recent interview, that it is not “possible to have leniency with an attempted coup”. And he continues: “It is not possible to forget who tried to subvert democracy in Brazil. (…) All civilians or military personnel, reserve or active, political or not, will all be held responsible.” It is hoped that the minister will not back down.

It is always worth remembering and verifying that the uniformed group has no tradition in defending constitutional legality among us. In all – all! – the attacks on democracy undertaken since the republican coup of 1889, the stamping of combat boots was heard. Conspiring, placing troops on the streets, setting up dictatorships, repressive apparatuses and always subordinating themselves to the dominant power, members of this sector have a strong responsibility in the construction of our unequal and unjust society.

It is unlikely that Lula, in his speech on the 8th, will point the finger at members of a State institution that suffered immense wear and tear during the Jair Bolsonaro years, whether due to accusations of corruption, the irresponsible direction he imposed on the Ministry of Health, or the incessant search for government mouths. Furthermore, it is unlikely that she will mention the political parties linked to the genocide, now registered in her ministries (PP, Republicans, PSD and União Brasil). The PT leader built the administration with these people, for several reasons, and cannot invest against them hotly. “We are one people”, states a slogan prepared by the official communications department.

Despite the clear change of atmosphere in the country, in this first year, the government staged countless setbacks. The commonplace says: “there is no vacuum in politics”. Taking advantage of the opportunity, the far-right opposition once again puts its foot in the door. On Friday (5/01), thirty senators, including Rogério Marinho (PL), Ciro Nogueira (PP), Flávio Bolsonaro (PL), Tereza Cristina (PP), Damares Alves (Republicans), Esperidião Amin (PP), Hamilton Mourão (Republicans) and Sérgio Moro (Union) launched the “Public demonstration regarding the Unshakable Democracy act, called by the heads of the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary Powers”.

In harsh words, they denounce “failures on the part of the federal government” in containing the depredation of a year ago. The attack is direct on the STF, which allegedly committed “abusive practices” in the investigation of fake news and in the prisons of the small stingray of coup plotters. They denounce “blatant omissions by authorities in President Lula’s government” during the riots last January. And they continue: “Contrary to what President Lula stated, democracy, for us, is not relative”. They conclude loudly: “We appeal (…) to the heads of the Powers of the Republic to return to acting within constitutional dictates with the consequent return to democratic normality”.

The deliberate absence of opposition governors at the Senate event – ​​with emphasis on those from the South-Southeast and DF – will complete the chalk stripe with which the extreme right intends to delimit the fields in Brazil. In other words, if Lula, as is his style, does everything to reconcile opposites and avoid split balls, conservatism puts politics in the command post and calls the government into a fight. He certainly acts like this because he feels strengthened in the face of the already mentioned official retreats, such as those carried out against Faria Lima (with the adoption of the new fiscal framework), the center, the military, neo-Pentecostal churches, foreign policy actions in relation to Israel etc. Worrisome.

To finish, a little story. Between 2002-13, during the Hugo Chávez governments, I was in Venezuela around 15 times. I wrote two books and countless articles and reports about the country. Hugo Chávez suffered an attempted coup between April 11 and 13, 2002, as I mentioned at the beginning. Strong popular resistance and a split in the armed forces defeated the mazorca. From then on, at every opportunity, especially on the anniversaries of the attempt, he made a point of denouncing the attack on democracy and loudly proclaiming who was responsible. He acted like this at solemn events, in formidable mass demonstrations and on international trips. He made the memory of the fight against the coup something alive, making it a source of legitimacy for his administration. There were other threats. But the politicized demarcation of disputed fields has become a kind of vaccine against disruptive adventures.

Several analysts complain about the intense polarization in Brazil. The Lula government does everything to avoid clashing with ultraconservatism. Among the reasons is the fact that Bolsonaro supporters hold important federal positions, as well as the fact that several neoliberal projects are part of the current range of public policies, such as fiscal austerity.

Polarization is part of democracy. There is no escaping it. Its opposite is single thinking. Even if the Lula government tries at all costs to avoid confrontations, as it will probably do on Monday, they are inherent to social life. The extreme right, on the contrary, makes polarization its vital force. It works to ensure that its guidelines are clear to the public. With this, they politicize the confrontation.

Despite directly disagreeing with the merit of their proposals, it is necessary to recognize that in the method of action the extreme right can further consolidate its social base, aiming to accentuate the government's defensiveness.

In the case of the military, Lula made a great deal to calm his relations with them, appointing a politician from the ultra-conservative elite of Pernambuco, trained during the dictatorship, to head the Defense, offering them more political autonomy – his actions are often dissonant with politics external, for example – and once again increasing the portion of the public budget allocated to them. To these advantages is added the prospect of impunity. Apparently, the Act of January 8 aims to once again enshrine this pact from above, passing the curtain on the actions of commanders in recent years.

Depoliticizing government action and always giving in to armed bodies are initiatives that have historically not had positive outcomes for democracy. Which is never abstract, by the way.

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

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