Fears of coup shake Brazil elections, build on Bolsonaro threat

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“Brazil has had tough times and good times: 65, 64, 16, 18, now 22. History can repeat itself.Good always triumphs over evilThese words came from Bolsonaro, who addressed his followers on September 7, Brazil’s Independence Day, and of the dates he highlighted, one of them was key: 1964, the date of the military coup, the origin of the dictatorship Ruled the country for more than 20 years.

The phrase sounds like a threat from the far right: “History can repeat itself.” And, more importantly, when his followers They demanded military intervention, shut down parliament and dismissed Supreme Court justicesand, instead of criticizing the statements and blocking escalation, Bolsonaro defended them with free speech.

In addition, the President of the Republic spent several months Fueling fears of electronic voting and talking about electoral fraud, There are no tests. The farther he trails in the polls, the tougher his rhetoric against the electoral system. “Despite being monitored by the armed forces, We can’t let the chance of fraud be zero‘ he said this week.

[Brasil, a las urnas: un duelo entre Lula y Bolsonaro con la democracia en juego]

After the candidates expressed doubts, the party submitted a report to the High Electoral Court that questioned “the source code of electronic ballot boxes controlled by a restricted group of officials and collaborators”, decrying the “lack of minimal security conditions”, think so “creates vulnerability” to “external and internal intrusions”.

For the court, the conclusion of the above-mentioned report was crossed out. “Fakes and liars, in reality there is no protection whatsoevermade of fraudulent information that threatens the rule of law, the judiciary, and electoral justice in an attempt to disrupt the natural progression of the electoral process.

“When Bolsonaro said he would only accept clean election results and attacked electronic ballot boxes, he had is creating pre-election turmoil”, analyzes Marco Teixeira, a political scientist and researcher at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation. However, the good news for Teixeira is that “now, Bolsonaro is talking to himself. “Even his São Paulo government candidate, Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas, repeatedly defended electronic voting,” he recalls.

The same thing happened on September 7, despite the president’s controversial speech. “That date proves Bolsonaro’s isolation. It’s not just any date, it’s celebrating the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence The President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Supreme Court were not present at the ceremony. This is very important because it is clear that Bolsonaro cannot add support to consider a strike,” Teixeira said.

In the opinion of a political scientist, Bolsonaro “can make noise, he can bring people into the streets, confrontation can take place, but it will only be his own speech and will not affect society as a whole.” 1964 was very different, when With the persistence of the armed forces and society itself, It’s more conservative and not as diverse as it is now,” she insisted.

The role of the armed forces

During the four-year legislative process, former army captain Bolsonaro has worked hard to win the sympathy of the armed forces, even placing some soldiers inside the government. According to a study published in May by the Institute of Applied Economics (Ipea), the number of civilian soldiers has increased by 70 percent. Yes The number of troops at the top of the administration will increase from 680 in 2018 to 1,085 in 2021.

Bolsonaro at Brazil’s Independence Day celebrations.

Reuters

First up are reserve generals Augusto Heleno Ribeiro Pereira, Carlos Alberto dos Santos Cruz, Maynard Marquez Santa Rosa and Fernando Azevedo Schie Elva, they were chosen as Agency Security Cabinetthe Government Secretary, the Secretary for Strategic Services, and Ministry of Defenserespectively.

They were followed by others, even active-duty military personnel, such as communications adviser Otávio Rêgo Barros or Eduardo Pazuello, who were appointed as health ministers when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.None of them lasted very long in the office, and Many ended up being fired in humiliating fashion.

Santos Cruz left in June 2019, disappointed with a government that didn’t look like he envisioned. Today, he is one of Bolsonaro’s critics, who accuse Bolsonaro of wanting to drag the armed forces into his personal plans, suggesting he will get military support to stage a coup. “Whoever wins has to come in. Whether it’s Lula or Bolsonaro. There are two bad options. But the agency I’ve worked for for so many years wouldn’t engage in this stupidity“, He said in an interview with Brazilian media public institution.

In a report released this week, the outlet cited various military sources and concluded that despite the armed forces’ ideological ties to Bolsonaro’s assumptions — such as fears of communism , the defense of traditional families, the carrying of arms through “good citizens” or the fight against corruption – there is a huge divide in how and how to behave They don’t want their name to be associated with the president.

“Armed Forces They have suffered a lot from the actions of the generals who make up the government They end up passing on a negative image to society, and I don’t think the military is going to get into such a thing,” Teixeira said.

What about the police?

So do the police. During his tenure, Bolsonaro worked hard to strengthen his ties with his agent.One of Bolsonaro’s main tributes to military police, firefighters and the military is pension reformfull wage guarantee at retirement, and no mandatory minimum age to stop working.

No environment can create enough street adhesion to jeopardize the outcome

But letting yourself be loved by the president doesn’t mean being willing to do anything for him. According to a survey by the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety (FBSP) last August, 84.5% of the nation’s police defend democracy as the best form of government When confronted with the statement that “in some circumstances it is reasonable for the military to support or to seize power through a coup”, 55.6 percent said they disagreed. In addition, 80 percent assured that whoever is declared the winner of the election by the electoral judge must become president.

Conservative does not mean supporting a coup. And it never happened when Bolsonaro called a demonstration that we even thought the police could provide some support for. I don’t understand how the police could be involved in something like this,” Teixeira clarified.

dangerous words

Listening to Bolsonaro’s words, it is inevitable to think of Trump and his post-election speech, attacking the American democratic system and electoral system. One wonders if the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol will take place in Brazil.

“It’s a repetition of what Trump has done, that’s pretty obvious,” Teixeira said. “We all know that Steve Bannon had a great influence not only on Bolsonaro, but on the whole family, his children, his family … it’s no surprise. But no environment can generate enough support on the street to jeopardize the outcome“.

Over 670,000 Brazilians have weapons, more than 10 times as many as five years ago

However, it was a speech that permeated among his followers. According to a survey conducted in July this year, 32% of Brazilians “somewhat” trust voting machines 20% don’t trust them at all. If we add to the fact that many of the president’s supporters have weapons in addition to the belief that the outcome could be manipulated, it could create a dangerous breeding ground.

During his tenure, Bolsonaro facilitated the purchase of weapons by civilians, at this time, More than 670,000 Brazilians have weapons, more than 10 times as many as five years ago. “My biggest concern is not just the coup, my biggest concern is how many people can take to the streets with weapons, where there will be confrontation and what might happen,” the political scientist warned.

Even so, Teixeira believed in the power of authority to stop any kind of unrest. “This is nothing new, it’s happening across the legislature, but the election is really going to be at the center, but I’m sure the intelligence services and the federal police are monitoring this to minimize the risk,” he said.

Moreover, other containment hurdles have been raised in recent months, which could help Bolsonaro have no choice but to admit a possible defeat and pass the baton effortlessly. In August, at an event attended by almost all major Brazilian politicians, Alexandre de MorasA federal Supreme Court member and president of the Supreme Electoral Court (TSE) has warned that he will punish attacks on the electoral process. “Freedom of speech is not freedom that destroys democracy, destroys institutions”, Say. He added that his response “will be swift, firm and relentless.”

A man holds two paper guns during a demonstration in support of Bolsonaro.

A man holds two paper guns during a demonstration in support of Bolsonaro.

In June, Moraes had already issued a verdict in which he forced Bolsonaro supporters to Delete dozens of fake news about Lula posted on social networksAnd, as a final blow, it brought the military into the electoral process as another tool to guarantee its transparency.

Brazilian society is increasingly aware of the dangers that can come from legitimizing democratic entities and is taking action to defend them. In August, more than a million Brazilians, including former presidents, academics, lawyers, singers and athletes, signed a Manifesto to Defend the National Voting System. Brazil’s major business groups have issued similar letters.

“September 7th this year is very different from last year. 2021 is very dangerous because you have a civil society fan who keeps silent and leaves the president free to act. Not this year. Public events were held, industrialists made manifestos, bankers, unions They captured Bolsonaro’s lonelinessTeixeira recalled.

Those four years of the legislature have damaged Bolsonaro’s ties with Brazilians, as evidenced by the poll’s rejection rate: 52 percent of voters would never vote for the far right. “There is a sense of danger. Most market participants in Brazil have realized that there is no future without a good economy with democracy,” concluded Teixeira. “They understand A country is not just about GDP or economic growth…it is also about democracy.”

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