By Antonio Proenca
To say that Brazil has been living in a fragile democracy since 1989, when we had the first elections after dictatorship, has become even more noticeable by those who maintain a mild level of media veganism.
To realize that since 2013 this fragility has increased and if during the turbulent demonstrations of June of that year there was a fear of a military coup, especially among the elders, a fear that was justified by the incapacity to govern by President Dilma, the fear was also explained by the history of coups in our country, today the tension and expectations are even greater. What we have in question is not “only” the threat of officers, like General Mourão in a speech promoted by the Masonic lodge in Brasília. This was also noticed in a recent speech by President Temer when he said: “…in 1964 the people rejoiced because again there was an absolute centralization of power…”. Such a statement was made a few days before the 54th anniversary of the coup. That can be viewed here.
The scenario is of political institutions in check because of the corruption scandals, a president with almost 1% of popularity, unemployment in record rates despite the lower interest rates and stable inflation, and increasing disparity in a population living in a moment of general disbelief. And now there is more speculation whether there will be elections this year.
And mainly, the “Lula factor”. This factor will be crucial to understanding what will happen by the October elections. The presidential polls have been showing him as a preferred candidate, in contrast to the uncertainty about his candidacy due to the conviction, the doubt about possible prison to be decided on April 4, the rallies with Lula around the country, which brings up the worst of this polarisation, with people shooting buses and attacking Lula’s sympathizers, all this shows how a single figure can divide so much.
As if all this was not enough, the executions of councilwoman and activist Marielle and driver Anderson are still very hot. Marielle’s death brought up the worst of this polarisation, apartheid Brazilian style. It was a unique action with political motivation but, because it was against a public figure, it had a worldwide repercussion – note that we are talking about a country where 58 activists are killed per year, more than one per week. Until now the culprits have not been found. It is believed that this political death will bring more moderate right to the centre, isolating the far right.
The military coup – as well as the shots that took the lives of Marielle and Anderson, does not give warning before: it explodes and when one realizes it; it is too late. A civil war, too.
Despite all the crisis scenarios, the unemployment rate is at 13m, if there have always been more chances of institutional attack than direct action, the reason is called Brazil. There is a huge separation between those in power and the rest of the population. In its massive territory, there are several “Brazils”, of different nations, different values, different classes that share a sense of individualism noticed by any European that passes by there on holidays. Furthermore, there is a great political alienation that can be illustrated in the daily incoherence of a good part of the population that has Lula (centre-left views) as its first candidate and Bolsonaro (conservative, far-right views) as the second option. These inconsistencies, contrasts, disparities, isolation, these “Brazils” inside Brazil, as well as the lack of commitment to the country, something that distinguishes Brazil even from the northern neighbour of individualist culture, all this shadows any possibility of formation of popular national mobilisation.
To think Brazil, you have to live it. If naively we use the Eurocentric views to understand a reality so different from the one we live in Europe, we will not be fair. In the Brazilian way (jeitinho brasileiro) of doing things, everything makes sense and everything can be explained and solved. However, this way has been used in a very bad and threatening way to the country. Never have the three powers been so exposed in their games of interest. Recently, Minister Barroso, from the Supreme Court, called his colleague, Minister Mendes, a very controversial figure, “…a horrible person with traces of psychopathy…Your excellency shames us…being always after some interest that is not of justice”. In the Executive, we have the president surrounded by criminals, some of his friends recently arrested, but later released. Temer, himself, despite being the target of serious accusations of obstruction of justice and criminal organization, does not “rejoice” at a resignation. On the contrary, despite very low approval, he wants to be a candidate for president. “This is Brazil,” it would sum up even the poor candy salesman. And the threats to democracy that are still up in the air, or in the lips of the president and his gang leave the future even more uncertain. Will there be elections? Will Lula be arrested or not?
We have reached a point where it becomes necessary for the Brazilians to feel part of politics, to enjoy it, to feel like citizens, to participate democratically, to respect each other, to discuss ideas, not to demonise politics as it has been done, and to overcome hate, passions and egos in favor of a debate that brings the progress for all. Since 2013, we question when we will have this society and since 2013 the shadows of the threats towards our institutions are seen in every corner of the country. And it is the alienated people who suffer most of the consequences. Our political institutions have lost credibility and our system is collapsing. Brazil is a dramatic reflection of what is happening worldwide, and no one has an idea when this scenario can improve. Turbulent times.