Brazilian Democracy Hangs by a Thread

It’s hard to admit how far off Brazil has strayed. Less than forty years ago, the country was coming out of a military dictatorship, and for more than three decades stood on a steady, and shiny, path to development. Now again, there’s a military president ruling the country, with a military as his Vice, several militaries on his cabinet, and hundreds of other military personnel on the lower ‘ranks’ of the government. And this military president comes in public and simply states that the Armed Forces of the country will not accept a supreme court rule if it comes out against him.

When Bolsonaro claims he won’t accept any disfavorable outcome of what he calls a “political trial”, one cannot fail to see his words under the light of what was perpetrated against former president Dilma Rouseff, because what he is really saying is that they won’t do that to him. He is saying “not to me, you won’t”, because of course, he was there when Dilma was ‘politically impeached’. In fact, he voted in favor of it.

The pivotal moment for the crisis the country is now facing was indeed the wrongful removal of president Dilma Rouseff. That event marked the beginning of a series of grave and systematic violations of the Brazilian constitution, that culminated in the completely unfair and absurd imprisonment of former president Lula and finally in the election of the worst president in Brazilian history.

Now, Bolsonaro implies that the same unfairness is being architected against him, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Since he was elected and especially during the pandemic, he has committed dozens of impeachable crimes, including crimes against humanity. But he is saying he won’t go down because the Armed Forces won’t allow it.

Under this perspective, which is completely faithful to reality, it becomes very hard to believe that Brazil is not already under a military regime. Maybe the country is not just formally there yet. It’s also difficult to imagine a way out of this situation. Without a doubt, all is in the hands of the supreme courts.

The proof against Bolsonaro must be quickly made public, his infamous fake news scheme, highly organized and funded, must be completely exposed so that his support among the population can drop to insignificant figures. With the electoral crime proven and exposed, the election fraud will become plain and along with the health disaster he has been actively promoting, the country may see the favorable political conditions for his lawful removal. But no conscious Brazilian citizen can risk the outcome of the political war the country is waging.

One particularly frightening fact is the clear signs of support and insubordination among the military police, that in Brazil exerts the role of normal police, yet with a military hierarchy.

One thing was made crystal clear though, by the president himself: He won’t go down quietly. If removed from power, Bolsonaro will call on his followers to resist. How many will answer and where they will come from are the million-dollar questions. But the fear that lingers in the air of Brazil is that democracy is hanging by a thread.

L.A. Pontes is a Brazilian writer living with his wife and six dogs on the bushy outskirts near the city of Belo Horizonte. His writing has appeared, or is forthcoming, in LITRO UK, Eunoia Review and The New Verse News. Read other articles by L.A..