The economic core of the coup

Image: Lissaa Spiridonova


In charge of draining resources from the public budget to ensure Bolsonaro's re-election, Paulo Guedes and others contributed to the coup

The video of the meeting of the coup high command released to the public by the STF shows the advanced stage of the organization of the coup against democracy and suggests that the plot had an additional nucleus to the six already identified and investigated by the Federal Police: an economic nucleus, in charge of draining public budget resources to ensure the re-election of Jair Bolsonaro.

This is what we can deduce from Jair Bolsonaro's speech during the meeting about the vote by the Chamber of the “PEC das Bondades” and the expected electoral advantage “it is necessary. Even though it wasn’t made for the election, there’s no way we won’t win the population’s sympathy.” A statement that highlights its relevance to the coup conspiracy and explains the presence of Paulo Guedes in the conspiracy.

It is worth remembering that this PEC expanded some social programs and instituted new emergency aid, using more than R$41 billion of public resources for actions valid only in the period between August 1 and December 2022. In other words, they were scheduled to begin shortly before the elections and end shortly after them, without there being any budgetary forecast that would make it possible to continue these benefits in the next government.

The recognition that this PEC was conceived as a purely electoral action and not as a social protection policy, is something that Jair Bolsonaro himself recognizes when he stated at the meeting that “there is no way. After this Kindness PEC – we are not thinking about that – we will have 70% of the votes, but we will have 49% of the votes”, making a direct reference to the objective of using public resources to influence the reversal of the majority preference for Lula, as the electoral polls indicated at that time.

Paulo Guedes remained silent at the meeting that discussed details of the preparation of the coup and treated as fundamental to its success an action in which he and his team had acted decisively to make it possible. The most important government minister and representative of the interests of large financial groups, did not hesitate and maintained a noisy complicit silence, even when, loudly and clearly, Jair Bolsonaro called on everyone to take a stand: “Does anyone want to speak? It’s an obligation to speak up if you’re wrong.” He was confident that his contribution was recognized by all and did not require any further comment.

So that there is no doubt about the plot, when this Constitutional Amendment began to be processed, Paulo Guedes and his team called the proposal “PEC Kamikaze”. At that time, the text predicted that the measures should be in force for two years, and not just until the end of 2022, which could bring the proposal closer to a true social protection policy. During the discussions led by the Minister of Finance and his team with the Bolsonarist parliamentarians, they agreed that the proposal would be limited to just five installments, with no provision for its continuation. Once this agreement was reached, the proposal was no longer considered “Kamikaze” and was transformed into “PEC das Bondades”, one of the pillars of Jair Bolsonaro’s strategy for continuing in power.

Every citizen holding public office is obliged to fulfill their functional and constitutional obligations with responsibility and honor, which makes silence in the face of a flagrant violation of legality a crime. Paulo Guedes' involvement, however, goes far beyond complicit silence, as his conduct throughout the government, especially in the election year, supports the hypothesis that he led one of the fundamental groups for the success of the coup attempt, the nucleus economic, and did everything in his power to make it successful.

Paulo Guedes and none of the others present at that meeting had the honor required of public servants placed in the face of conspiracies and illegal acts, as was the emblematic stance of the FAB officer, Sérgio Macaco, who was part of the Para-Sar parachute rescue squad and refused in 1968, following orders from Brigadier João Paulo Moreira Burnier to dynamite a dam and blow up Rio de Janeiro's gas meter during rush hour, which could kill thousands of people. The terrorist plan envisaged blaming the communists and legitimizing an intensification of repression against opponents of the military dictatorship.

When asked by his superior, Burnier, if he agreed with the plan, Sérgio Macaco responded in a haughty manner and respecting his functional and constitutional obligations: “No. I do not agree. And as long as I'm alive that won't happen. (…). I will not remain silent and I will inform the minister of these facts.” He chose to honor his obligations, even though this stance cost him the loss of his officer rank and until his death in 1994, he was unable to reestablish his rights, something that only occurred in 1997.

Faced with a similar situation, 55 years later, those present at that meeting remained silent and agreed to actively participate, or as accomplices, in a coup plot against Brazilian democracy and chose to betray their constitutional responsibilities and commitment to defend democracy, through which they were granted the right of access to state power. Crimes against which democracy cannot fail to defend itself.

*Gerson Almeida, sociologist, former councilor and former secretary of the environment of Porto Alegre, he was national secretary of social articulation in the Lula 2 government.

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