When then Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff suffered a parliamentary coup in 2016, the plan of the main actors involved was clear: the presidency would leave the hands of the Workers’ Party (PT), on the left and winner of the last four. elections, and fall to his knees.
The Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), on the right and the main opponent of the PT, had been defeated in the second round in the last four conflicts, but believed that in the end it would win the next election. The Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), until then from the base of the PT, would immediately take the presidency through the then deputy Michel Temer. It was the third time the party had held the office, always out of vices, as it had never had a competitive candidate.
Contrary to what these actors had predicted, the criticism of the PT and the subsequent condemnation of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, leader of the Workers’ Party, favored the coming to power of Jair Bolsonaro.
The search for the “ third way ”
After the 2016 parliamentary coup, the mainstream media partially persecuted the PT, imagining that traditional politics aligned with its business partners would revert to the usual modus operandi. To overthrow ex-president Dilma Rousseff was not enough, however, as ex-president Lula was one of the favorites to reach her third term.
Lava Jato members of the judiciary and federal prosecution also focused on this elitist and undemocratic vision.
The operation resulted in the arrest of Lula in 2018 in a trial strewn with irregularities, with a conviction without material evidence and a violation of due process. He was leading the polls with the intention of voting, which, as you might expect, came to take the lead in second place: Jair Bolsonaro.
So this hitherto irrelevant politician, known for defending torture, authoritarianism and all kinds of prejudice, has accomplished the hitherto unthinkable feat of becoming president. This would never have been possible without the consortium which had pledged to remove the PT from power.
Those who imagined that the departure of this party would reward a more “balanced” sector of market advocates were wrong. The criminalization of politics has not only affected the left. The search for those who did not represent “old politics” flowed from large establishment parties, facilitating the rise of elements linked to gun lobbyists, police repression and / or paramilitary criminals.
Even without Lula, the PT candidate in the 2018 elections, Fernando Haddad, left 6% of the voting intentions, a month before the elections, directly for the second round. This right which led the coup in 2016 tried to oppose itself as a balanced “third way”, a “democratic center”, presenting Haddad and Bolsonaro as equivalent left and right extremists.
Lula’s return as a potential candidate reinforces the PT’s tendency to be the main opponent of Bolonarianism. However, the so-called “third way” seeks to highlight the anti-petist sentiment, created and fertilized by the legal media massacre that linked the “corrupt” label to the party, by repeating the narrative that led to the current one. president in power.
The dispute for this space outside the supposed “populism and radicalism of the left and the right”, valued in the mainstream media, involves several personalities. Some of them formalized this position by joining the so-called “Manifesto for Democratic Conscience”.
These are the governors of the PSDB in the states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, João Doria and Eduardo Leite, popular TV presenter Luciano Huck, former presidential candidates Ciro Gomes and João Amoêdo, and even Luiz Henrique Mandetta, one of four Bolsonaro Health Ministers since the start of the pandemic. He became famous for not agreeing to be an accomplice in the government’s anti-scientific irresponsibility, in front of Covid-19.
Ciro Gomes is the only one of the group who did not support the 2016 coup, does not defend the radicalization of neoliberalism and did not vote for Bolsonaro, but his strategy is to attack the PT, neglecting that the antetism is the father of Bolonarianism.
Luciano Huck, a celebrity outside of institutional politics whose fame comes from his sensational television assistance show, said he had never voted or would vote for the PT, and that Bolsonaro was “in luck. or to resign from politics in Brazil ”. In fact, he reinterpreted …
The armed forces and the consolidation of a fourth way
While the “democratic center” claims to be opposed to the Bolsonarist authoritarianism that it has helped to make possible, a fourth path is consolidating: since the coup d’état, there has been a militarization of Brazilian politics, which s ‘is accelerated with Bolsonaro.
In the demonstrations against Dilma Rousseff, there were always posters calling for the return of the military. When he took office, Michel Temer recreated the Institutional Security Office, under the command of a general opponent of the National Truth Commission. He also appointed a general minister of defense, which had not been the case for over 15 years. And he authorized federal military intervention in Rio de Janeiro’s security policy, with powers over the governor himself.
Bolsonaro, himself a retired captain, has chosen General Hamilton Mourão as his deputy. Elected, he appointed military personnel to a record number of posts holding a large chunk of the federal budget, including ministers. Even in the Health portfolio, after sacking doctors who thought his policy of denial of the fight against the pandemic went too far, he placed a general as minister: Eduardo Pazuello would resign when the daily death toll per Covid-19 in Brazil is approaching. 2500 (today they exceed 3000).
Under pressure from the ruling party in Congress, Bolsonaro had to reluctantly fire Chancellor Ernesto Araújo. The minister burned out after repeatedly offending China, deceiving Donald Trump and making it difficult to buy vaccines, just as Bolsonaro wanted.
Soon after, Bolsonaro made further changes in the ministries, seeking unconditional loyalty. He appointed a delegate of the federal police as the new Minister of Justice, in order to guarantee the support of the police. He put a first-term MP to be his political articulator, with the intention of facilitating deals with patronage sectors of Congress.
The dismissal of the general who occupied the Ministry of Defense is however the most complex case. He had said that the armed forces were institutions of the state and not of the government and did not support the state of siege envisaged by Bolsonaro. Shortly after his resignation, the commanders of the three armed forces also surrendered their positions, en bloc, which is unprecedented in the country. The army was already trembling with the president. If Bolsonaro intended to demonstrate that he was in charge, the result was the opposite.
However, there are still generals loyal to him, such as Augusto Heleno, current head of the Institutional Security Office, and his special adviser Eduardo Villas-Bôas, both with recent histories of threats against the Supreme Court. Another is Walter Braga Netto, who ordered a federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro. In the ministerial reform of the government, he left the Civil House to occupy the Ministry of Defense.
With the armed forces acting without transparency, it is difficult to foresee the consequences. They are unlikely to stray from politics again, as their constitutional attributions recommend. Even though they are rooted in government structures, their movement is calculated to break away from the worn image of Bolsonaro as an international outcast, called “genocide” by his compatriots for having actively contributed to an unprecedented death toll. in this pandemic.
Perhaps this is the means for the armed forces to return to the presidency, without a clumsy intermediary. The last time they did so, they stayed for 21 years, violating human rights.
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