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Political chaos shaking Brazil

By Lucas Leiroz | January 10, 2023

The Brazilian political scene is increasingly tense. Anti-Lula protests grow day by day, with thousands of people taking to the streets in several cities to demand the revocation of the 2022 electoral process. Recently, in an act of vandalism and disdain for the most basic civic values, pro-Bolsonaro militants invaded Brasília, damaging public buildings and the facilities of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. As a result, the Lula government began a tough response to those involved, punishing protesters, and intervening in Brasilia’s regional politics.

The Federal District of Brasilia was the target of scenes of depredation on January 8th. Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters – commonly referred to as “Bolsonarists” – attacked the Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Planalto Palace – the headquarters of the Three Branches of the Republic. Historical pieces of art that were kept on site were also destroyed, creating a true scene of barbarism.

The majority of the militants wore shirts from the Brazilian soccer team and held flags of Brazil, the US and Israel – which has already become commonplace in Bolsonarist demonstrations. As in other protests across the country, Bolsonarists in Brasília demanded the end of the Lula government and called for new elections. Some more radical militants called for military intervention – which is also a common agenda among Brazilian rightists. The invasion lasted a few hours, but the authorities regained control of the situation before the end of the day.

In fact, if the Bolsonarists’ intention was to weaken the Lula government, the plan failed. The president of Brazil, with broad support from the national media and international authorities, took control of the situation with tough measures to guarantee law and order. Not only were the protesters repelled, but hundreds of them were identified and arrested.

Lula signed a decree imposing federal intervention in Brasília’s public security, taking exceptional measures to guarantee order and end the vandalism. Measures to break telephone secrecy and in-depth intelligence investigations are also being operated in order to point out all the culprits for the invasion, including its possible sponsors.

Indeed, mass protests in Brasilia are not common. The Brazilian capital has an urban structure that does not allow for large popular mobilizations to pressure the authorities who work there. The isolation of politicians and government’s facilities was precisely the central objective of the architectural project of Brasilia in the 1960s.

Before, when the capital was in Rio de Janeiro, federal facilities were easily accessible to the population, allowing mass protests and social chaos. Brasilia is built differently, with access routes that are very restricted and easily blocked by the authorities, so that large mobilizations there can only occur in case of negligence or connivance on the part of the police.

This led the Brazilian government to identify the heads of public administration in Brasília as Bolsonarists colluding with the demonstrations, dismissing them from their offices and reformulating the administrative structure of the city with some new allies of the government. The Brazilian media adopted this speech as official and referred to the former police chiefs of Brasilia as Bolsonarists, strengthening the coalition in support of Lula’s measures.

On the other hand, leaders of right-wing parties in Brazil claim that there was some kind of “false flag operation”, where the authorities would have deliberately permitted the vandalism of the angry mass precisely to boost a radicalization of the Lula government. The war of narratives does not seem to end anytime soon.

What is really important, however, is not the political position of the former police chiefs of Brasilia, but what comes next. The Brazilian government and the media formally classified the protesters as “terrorists”, which raises a series of questions. While there has undoubtedly been vandalism and a number of deplorable acts, classifying these acts as “terrorism” is questionable and justifies all sorts of exceptional measures. To combat terrorism, extraordinary actions are valid, thus justifying the breach of the legal-constitutional norms to restore order.

Some critics of Lula fear that the new government will commit abuses and make the January 8 decree a kind of Brazilian “Patriot Act”. This criticism is valid, and the actions must be monitored so that they do not become abuses, but the most important thing, instead of criticizing Lula’s measures, is to find the necessary mechanisms to pacify the country.

Brazil is absolutely divided, polarized and tense. On the one hand, radical Bolsonarists who do not accept the former president’s defeat; on the other, similarly radical pro-Lula militants – who are now even calling for popular mobilization to “stop” the rightist protesters. As a result, Brazil remains inflamed by political partisanship, with no real concern for a project for the Brazilian State that overcomes ideological and partisan antagonisms.

Lula is trying to find those responsible for the protests in the capital. He accuses Bolsonaro of being the instigator of the actions and has even received support from key members of the American Democratic Party, who are now asking Washington to “extradite” the former Brazilian president who is in the US since December. However, there is still no legal action that legitimizes such “extradition” and continuing to try to find “culprits” is perhaps just a way to further deepen polarization.

Lula’s great challenge will not be to punish the members of the former government, nor even to put an end to radical rightism in the country. His great task is to overcome social hostility and find a way to pacify Brazil. Perhaps, calling thousands of Brazilian citizens “terrorists” is not the best way to do this. Undoubtedly, vandalism must be punished, but the ultimate goal must be national reconciliation.

Lucas Leiroz is a researcher in Social Sciences at the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro; geopolitical consultant.

You can follow Lucas on Twitter and Telegram.

January 10, 2023 - Posted by | Civil Liberties |

5 Comments »

  1. An excellent, fair/balanced report. Kudos to LL and to AN for presenting his analysis.

    “…Israel – which has already become commonplace in Bolsonarist demonstrations.” Hmmm. I smell a rat, er, a Zionist. They’re everywhere….

    Like

    Comment by roberthstiver | January 10, 2023 | Reply

  2. Brazil’s future can overcome these divisions by working with China and other nations of the BRICS. Cooperation among nations to bring the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative to Brazil. There is a saying going around that the new name for Peace is Development. Helga Zepp-LaRouche is the Chairman of the Schiller Institute and spokeswoman for the new paradigm of Peace thru Development. She made it clear that the underdeveloped nations in the Global South want nothing to do with war or the economic backwardness dished out to them by the IMF. The nations of the Global South have turned their backs on the City of London and New York financial interests. And they arn’t too happy about it. They probably had something to do with the events in Brasilia.

    London and NY financial interests have everything to lose if Brazil adopts the principles of a new international architecture she called on nations to join. Zepp-LaRouche has laid down a Ten Point Program to unite all nations behind a new architecture that guarantees sovereignty, security, and economic development. For way too long, underdeveloped nations in the global south have been looted and their economies destroyed by IMF policies that have kept them backward and heavily indebted to bankers in the north. But that paradigm has ended. A New Paradigm of win-win cross-border trade and development has been erected. Collaboration between China, Russia, and India has made it possible. It has reawakened the Spirit of Bandung Non-Aligned movement. Nations of the global south look for a better future working with China than with London and Wall St.

    So wake up everyone! A new day is dawning for the majority of the human race. We can rejoice in the collapse of the transAtlantic system of usury and deprivation as we watch the Sun finally set on the British Imperial System. We first have to figure out a way to prevent London and Washington from starting WW3.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | January 10, 2023 | Reply

    • Excellent, readable comment! Thanks.

      “…underdeveloped nations in the global south have been looted and their economies destroyed….” Just another manifestation of Western colonialism, no?

      Like

      Comment by roberthstiver | January 10, 2023 | Reply

      • Yes! After the Congo’s Patrice Lumumba and American President John F Kennedy were assassinated by Anglo-American intelligence communities, the financial oligarchy has run wild looting natural resources and instigating colonial wars in Africa. African nations have had enough and have turned to China and Russia. The weak are getting stronger while the strong have become weaker and have to rely on military muscle to keep nations in line. But they made a huge mistake starting a war with Russia. Putin isn’t backing down. It’s a war the West can’t win, NATO or no NATO.
        The question is then, will wiser heads pull back NATO and end the war in Ukraine? Or, seeing that everything they have done up to this point has failed, will they opt for a preemptive nuclear strike on Russia, risking global thermonuclear WW3? Frankly speaking, nuclear war is almost certain. We need a miracle to prevent it.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Thomas Lee Simpson | January 10, 2023 | Reply

        • Wow — “nuclear war is almost certain”…Apocalypse Now. I don’t/won’t/can’t argue the point.

          (Meant to note that I *like* the above “the new name for Peace is Development.” Hear, hear!–and high time for it.)

          Like

          Comment by roberthstiver | January 10, 2023 | Reply


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