A suicide pact?

Image: Michelle Guimaraes
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By CHICO WHITAKER*

Bolsonaro should have already fallen in the face of the crimes he committed, but the opposite is happening and they are normalizing everything unacceptable with general attention focused only on the electoral process

We Brazilians seem to have a strong tendency to get used to the unacceptable, to normalize the absurd. As for example with corruption in the political world, almost as old as the nation. The Legislature, in particular, has always been a fertile ground for the action of profiteers and opportunists, capable of blackmailing with their power, although there are always brilliant minds thinking about the country.

Many try, within it, but unfortunately minorities, to direct it towards the ends for which parliaments exist, and not for the enrichment of its members – even though the “smart ones” may consider them muggles or naive. But their parliamentary effectiveness, which implies dialoguing with political opponents and with whom they may not have any affinity, requires that they not be critical to the point of isolating themselves.

Meanwhile, outside, many dream of the possibility of also entering this tempting world, to guarantee their share of the loot. And every four years swarms of candidates surround us, so that we award them with our voting power. But it is not easy to distinguish those who, mixed in the swarm, effectively aim to work for the Common Good...

And life goes on, because most people find it very difficult to change this framework, which already seems to constitute a culture. “That's politics”, many say, almost resigned.

With that also many admit, without the general repudiation they deserve, corrupt practices that have been emerging. Like “ghost employees” in offices, to protect relatives and friends, or “cracks” in legislatures at all levels, which is much talked about today, but which is an old trick. It makes it possible for a number of well-paid advisers (which is growing ever larger) to shamefully transfer part or all of the public money they earn into the pockets of those who use such systems. A lot of people don't even bother with such ethical deviations anymore, so commonplace they have become.

We also learned of tricks invented by skillful articulators, without managing to abolish them as necessary, such as “parliamentary amendments”. It's a pompous but misleading title. They are additions to the government budget. Although there are those who manage to use these “amendments” for nobler ends, and those who defend them because they allow the fulfillment of real needs that parliamentarians know more closely, for the most part they aim to guarantee re-elections, by allocating public resources to works, equipment and services in parliamentary constituencies.

As well as to provide them with “leftovers” and “commissions” that go into their coffers. Let us remember the “budget dwarfs” and the “ambulance scandal”. On the other hand, its negotiation also serves the Executives, as one of the main instruments they have for the formation of majorities that approve laws of their interest, which can be quite contrary to that of society - as is happening now. It suffices for them to administer, according to this purpose, the release of the amounts thus consigned.

For this reason, one of the lines of action of the Resistance and National Reconstruction Front, proposed at the end of January, is to enter this year's electoral process for the Legislative – beyond the much greater attention that is traditionally given to the Executive. It is essential to reduce the number of “hacks” – “about 300”, as someone said many years ago – that return to Congress to continue undermining its important function.

But if corruption thus privatizes resources needed to meet urgent social needs, other equally accepted absurdities have more tragic effects. Such is the case of the dismantling of all types of social control that is leading to the destruction of the Amazon and the genocide of indigenous peoples, or impunity in cases of murder due to some type of phobia or pure racism. And crowning it all, the intentionally necrophilic actions of mismanagement in the face of Covid 19, which caused a very high number of preventable deaths. All of this happening and getting worse right under our noses.

In fact, the sharp growth in the number of victims of the pandemic scared everyone, but it seems that it also anesthetized us, prevented by itself – and we still are – from being more numerous in protest demonstrations. While Bolsonaro himself, personally, with the means of communication available to a President, induced the unwary – and his government still does – to seek a cure with innocuous drugs and even with lethal effects. Just as it confused and still confuses people about how to protect themselves from the disease and creates doubts about the effectiveness of vaccines, it also makes it difficult and delays their purchase for a quick general application and for each age group that enters the queue.

But if the institutions of the Brazilian State allowed all of this to happen, now all of us, citizens and civil society organizations alike, are getting used to the most unacceptable of the unacceptable: the permanence in his position, until this year's elections, of the main responsible for everything, as if we were living in normal times of alternation in power, with the aggravating factor that he already enjoys total impunity for a large series of common crimes.

These have already been formally listed in substantiated representations of civil society organizations and the CPI of the Senate to the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), who is, according to the Constitution, who must denounce him to the STF. The opening of a criminal case, after this denunciation, would lead to the immediate removal of the President from his position.

But the PGR also prefers to prevaricate – one of the many crimes committed by Bolsonaro – using the power that the Constitution itself gave him to not make any accusations and thus shield his friend. A Justice of the STF would have already sent him a message: his function is not to observe, but to act. But even so, the Senate CPI report has just completed 100 days in its drawers. Little concerned with his own history, he possibly hopes to be awarded with a nomination for the STF: didn't a former parliamentarian say that it's giving that you get? This evangelical phrase perversely interpreted for politics can cover up many types of corruption...

Meanwhile, another type of accusation made against Bolsonaro, of crimes of responsibility that would require his impeachment, already denounced in almost 200 processes, sleeps peacefully towards eternity in other drawers, those of the President of the Chamber. This, also a faithful ally of the accused, in turn shamelessly uses instruments that are also unacceptable, such as the recently invented “secret budgets”, to prevent a majority of parliamentarians from approving the opening of an impeachment process.

Now, the impunity enjoyed by the President, for common crimes and crimes of responsibility, only authorizes and even encourages him to persist in his criminal career.

And it is in order to mobilize and organize ourselves to react to all this that many people who are outraged by what is happening have written the Open Letter to the Brazilian people, with the aforementioned Front proposal.

She is addressed to those who still hope that Brazil will manage to get out of this hellish crater in which it is sinking more and more, and repeats something that has been said by many: instead of just shouting “Bolsonaro out!” we have to shout “Bolsonaro out now!”. Immediately, as soon as possible! Before it's too late! Especially given the fact that there is already an instrument that would allow achieving this objective - the President's criminal process, currently blocked by the Attorney General of the Republic - and that we can demand that the Senate remove this PGR for prevarication, a possibility that seems to be still little known.

Instead, everything unacceptable is being normalized with general attention turned solely to the electoral process, as if it were the only way out. Not even when 2022 started, political leaders started to only deal with the choice of vice-presidents and the formation of alliances and electoral platforms, while TV commentators amuse us, as in entertainment programs, themselves a little dazzled, with the cleverness – the foxes are sniffing each other out, someone has written it – from the members of the great political club. And while in newspapers and lists on social networks, analysts spread dozens of articles about the paths and detours of candidates and “third ways”, obviously few are concerned with the thousands of candidacies for the legislature, which emerge like hungry ants, and even less with what could happen between now and the elections.

Elections are evidently essential in a democracy. They are the instrument that society has at its disposal so that citizens are the ones who, in a moment of renewal of hopes, choose who should govern and legislate. The campaigns that preceded them are also a golden opportunity, albeit little used, for raising the level of political awareness in society; as well as its ability to protect itself from manipulations, such as those currently made through social networks by the now famous fake news, that prevent voters from voting really well informed.

But at this moment, the absolute need to prevent Bolsonaro from remaining in power until the end of his term stands out: each day that he continues there, maintaining his impunity and the lies he strives for, the number of its victims and even more will be destroyed, of everything we managed to build since the end of the military regime.

But we will also face other risks. The elections themselves may not happen if something for that is already being conceived, in the sick minds of Bolsonaro and those around him, when they realize that he can be defeated, despite the support of his gang and the interests of unhealthy sectors of society.

Or, more tragically, his necrophilia could even lead him to the absurdity of fomenting a civil war – something necessary according to one of his “cracked” parliamentary sons, as he himself probably was, who influence him – supported by the enormous amount of of arms whose entry into the country facilitated and even encouraged. So that then police forces and militias, with the help of misfits and brutal repressed, do what he said the dictatorship we got rid of should have done: physically eliminate those who dream of other political and economic regimes - for which many people in the world yearns to end inequality and ensure social peace and the very conditions of human life on the planet.

Could it be that, less painfully than that, this scabrous figure that misgoverns us does not simply prepare social and economic chaos so that the Armed Forces are forced to intervene, to first impose order and then start another authoritarian cycle of government in the country?

How long will personal plans, saving plans, alliances to build or the unique vision of their own navels continue to prevent our political leaders from seeing these risks, so that they do not come to fruition and so that we never face them again?

Could it be that a suicidal pact is being prepared, in protected offices across the country, that only the political leaders and social organizations that are signing it are aware of, and that very few suspect, normalizing everything unacceptable at once?

After all, who's afraid of Fora Já?

*Chico Whitaker is an architect and social activist. He was councilor in São Paulo. He is currently a consultant to the Brazilian Commission for Justice and Peace.

 

 

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