Between paeans to the military dictatorship, praise to torturers, plagiarism of Goebbels, veiled threats of a coup and hints at a new AI-5—the Institutional Act that kicked off the most brutal phase of the dictatorship in 1968—the Bolsonaro government has truly gone all out.
However, speaking on Sunday to a large group of supporters who, gathered in front of the general command of the army in Brasilia, called for military intervention and the shutdown of Congress, the president went further than he had ever been before. “He has crossed the Rubicon,” commented Felipe Santa Cruz, President of the Bar Association.
Violating yet again the quarantine measures and the ban on mass gatherings, Bolsonaro, not wearing a mask, delighted those who are nostalgic for the dictatorship with a speech full of veiled threats: “We do not want to negotiate anything. What is old is past. We have a new Brazil in front of us,” he began while standing on the bed of a pickup truck, between fits of coughing (dry, to wit).
And then: “You can count on your president to do everything necessary to maintain our democracy and guarantee what is most sacred to you, our freedom.”
And finally: “Everyone in Brazil must understand that they are subject to the will of the people. I am sure that one day, we will all do everything possible to change the destiny of Brazil. Enough with the old politics.”
As part of the usual wave of disapproving reactions that followed his words, even Luis Roberto Barroso—the Supreme Court judge among the closest to Lava Jato and the most ferociously anti-Lula— was willing to speak up, saying he was frightened by the invocation of the prospect a coup d’état and the praise of the dictatorship, with a long quote from Martin Luther King on the terrible consequences of “good men do[ing] nothing”—although he himself preferred to remain silent about Bolsonaro’s words.
The new Health Minister, Nelson Teich, had nothing to say about the gathering in front of the general command of the army during quarantine, nor about the fact that the president took part in it, at a time when the country has over 39,000 infections and 2,400 deaths.
The President of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, spoke up and stressed that in the midst of a pandemic, Brazil is struggling not only against COVID-19 but also “against the virus of authoritarianism.”
However, his actions are still not showing much concern about the repeated attacks on the Constitution by the president, since he has sent no signal at all so far that he would be willing to countenance one of the many motions for impeachment (at least 17 of them)—all based on very solid arguments—that keep piling up at the office of the presidency of the Chamber.
And this despite the fact that, with Bolsonaro’s anti-democratic outbursts sinking to new depths and the rips and tears against the fabric of democracy being perpetrated without any consequences, it is increasingly obvious that verbal expressions of indignation are no longer enough, however unsparing and in unison the words of the “good men” might be.
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