Brazil is going through a difficult political moment that combines political-electoral violence with the risk of an institutional breakdown. President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) bears the main, but not the only, responsibility for the situation. Many hands have contributed to the erosion of Brazilian representative institutions, including much of the national political spectrum that has failed to respond to the challenges it has faced since 2015.
This is the diagnosis of Mara Telles, political scientist, professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) and president of the Brazilian Association of Election Researchers (Abrapel), presented in an interview Brazil de facto.
As for the current Bolsonaro, Telles is categorical: “If we were in a democracy, Bolsonaro would no longer be president.”
“The proof of dishonesty he closed with praise. He committed not only crimes of administrative dishonesty, but also crimes of corruption, inciting hatred, provoking violence, attacks on all institutions, from universities to TSE, STF, ”he lists.
“His government is a product of violence,” says Mara Telles of Bolsonaro/UFMG.
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“It seems strange to me that we are here today in a situation of normality, as if reality is suspended. I find it dystopian: while the president says he is going to make a coup, he is preparing a coup, he is presenting the coup to the world in the presence of about 70 diplomats. Here we are checking whether there will be not a revolution, but the production of a revolutionary discourse.”
The current violence goes beyond Brazilian standards
The analysis of the political scientist, one of the first analysts to point to the possibility of Jair Bolsonaro winning the 2018 elections, begins with the assassination of PT candidate Marcelo Arruda in Foz do Iguacu by Bolsonarist Jorge Guaragno, which, for Telles, is different from the violence that already exists in the country. “Violence in Brazil is structural, and political violence has existed in Brazil for many years. The number of mayors and councilors killed in Brazil is simply amazing,” he muses.
However, the current violence is different in that it is “built on an ideology” organized around the figure and speech of the president. “We see a president who, long before becoming a candidate, was already promoting a speech about attacking institutions, where instead of institutions we would have the production and reproduction of hatred. Although he says it’s a metaphor, his supporters take it as truth and action. It does not act, but encourages action,” he says.
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She believes that this militant discourse, which dehumanizes opponents, has led to an increase in violence in general. “You have an incentive to violence from the president. When we think of the violence in Brazil, we think of femicide, the execution of people in the mountains, as happened recently in Complexo do Alemão, in Jacarezinho. , the invasion of communities is not an invasion, it is an execution,” he analyzes.
“Usually in such cases, even in cases of femicide, the one who executes the woman is a significant part of the police. As happened in Foz do Iguaçu, where the victim was a municipal guard and the other weapon belonged to the police. Officer”.
This violent discourse has several branches, whether it is the glorification of police massacres or measures to facilitate and encourage the purchase of firearms by the public. The number of people with firearms licenses rose from 117,400 in 2018 to 673,800 in June this year, a 473% increase during Bolsonaro’s tenure, according to the Brazilian Public Safety Yearbook. According to data from the National Armaments System (Sinarm), linked to the Federal Police, the number of registered weapons in Brazil has skyrocketed from 637,000 in 2017 to almost 1.5 million in 2021.
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“His government is a production of violence. And especially now that he is in a not very favorable situation for the 2022 elections, he has radicalized attacks on institutions, on the TSE and encouraged violence not from his side, but from his followers. Telles accuses. “There’s a saying that everyone knows: I’m not afraid of the boss, I’m afraid of the security guard on the corner. It’s the one with the gun who will carry out this speech promoted by the president.”
Democracy x destruction of institutions
Returning to the death of Marcelo Arruda, the political scientist refutes the version that what happened was the result of political polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro, which would increase the anger of both sides. “It was quite clear that this death did not come from polarization. Polarization is when both sides are armed and killing. In this case, there is someone who kills and there is someone who dies,” he says.
The professor believes that since 1994 there has indeed been a polarization – in fact, almost bipartisanship – between the PT and the PSDB, but the situation is different from what is happening now. “Polarization is not happening with the LP, the Liberal Party. On the one hand, there are people who are trying to protect democracy, institutional functioning, and on the other hand, an ultra-right group that is divided into several parties and wants to destroy institutional structures… This is a process of polarization not in a democratic environment, but between democracy and authoritarianism,” he concludes.
Building this risk scenario for an institutional gap, according to the political scientist, was not a simple and quick process. She sees the roots of the current turmoil in the PSDB, and more specifically in the figure of Esio Neves, the acronym candidate for the presidency of the republic, who was defeated by Dilma Rousseff (PT) in 2014.
“This process of institutional disruption begins when the elite does not adhere to democratic norms. When the losing candidate Esio refuses to recognize the results, demands a recount, goes to court to prevent Dilma from graduating, we open a Pandora’s box there. ” evaluates.
At this point, the PSDB teamed up with more radical groups to take down the PT outside of the rules of the game. However, these same groups are rebelling against the Toucans and other right-wing forces, which led to the election of Jair Bolsonaro.
Lava Jato intensifies anti-politics
Another chapter of this process was Operation Lava Jato, widely supported by the corporate media, which, even in the face of evidence of abuse, treated figures such as Sergio Moro and Deltan Dalagnol with full respect.
“There was a strengthening of all non-representative institutions. During the Love Jato, the discourse was anti-political, anti-system, all democratic and representative parties and institutions were attacked, thus leading to the elections in 2016, in which the left lost a significant part of its voters in city halls and municipal councils. Precisely because outsiders have succeeded with this anti-systemic discourse in electing countless councillors, mayors, etc.”
According to Telles, the media themselves realized that the outcome of this process was not positive, as “journalists are being attacked for their own freedom of expression” by the president during interviews.
“I see them [as mídias] frightened by this situation, but without self-criticism. So, just as the PT has to self-critique because of many mistakes and even condoning some mistakes, the media has much more to do because they gave the knife and fork so Operation Love Jato could empower the police and therefore empower non-representative institutions. ‘, he analyzes.
Left the wrong reading
Leftists, the main targets of Lava Jato, who opened the space for a coup against Dilma Rousseff (PT), also have a share of responsibility in this process, Telles says. For her, this group did not know how to respond to the attacks on the democratic system. This applies both to the lawlessness committed by Lava Jato and the protected media, which should have been suppressed, as well as to direct attacks promoted by far-right militants, which have intensified in the impeachment demonstrations.
“I remember, because I study this topic, that the first demonstration in 2015, in March, President Dilma went on television to tell us that we have democratic demonstrations here, when several scenes of posters, postcards with signs were already shown. [com pedidos] military intervention,” he recalls.
“That’s where the power of the president is, which should have been stopped by the ministers of justice, not demonstrations, because not everyone who walked showed these intervention posters, and those who did should be punished immediately. I think that the government did not know how to read, did not know how to interpret the political situation and did not act with due constitutional and legal rigor in relation to what was being distributed in the country.”
This framework created the conditions for the election of Bolsonaro, who already in 2018 gave a lot of space in his campaign to value the army and militarism. “As a result, today we have more soldiers in the first and second level positions than we had during the military dictatorship,” he emphasizes.
Editing: Talita Pires