In Brazil, there are those who are talking about Bolsonaro’s “blitzkrieg.” During the first two days of his government, decisive attacks were carried out against the “enemies of the fatherland, order and freedom” mentioned in his speech to Congress. Just a few hours after the grotesque spectacle of his inauguration, he made it very clear who these enemies were, by cutting the minimum wage already approved by the National Congress from 1006 to 998 reals, thus targeting the poorest and most vulnerable.
He also dealt a deadly blow to the indigenous peoples, who will be fed directly to the capitalist lions. With a provisional decree on the reorganization of ministries, Bolsonaro took away from the FUNAI (the National Indian Foundation) the responsibility for identifying and specifying the borders of indigenous areas, and entrusted it to the Ministry of Agriculture, de facto giving it over to the powerful agribusiness lobby.
It will be Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina, the former head of the far-right Rural Bench in Congress and nicknamed “the muse of pesticides,” who will be in charge of managing the lands of the indigenous and quilombolas—the policies she will pursue go without saying—and who will also command the Brazilian Forest Service, which manages natural reservations and forests. A death knell for the native peoples and those of African descent, as well as for and the environment.
“The fact that the attack started with the indigenous peoples has a symbolic meaning,” said sociologist and indigenous leader Avelin Buniaca of the Kambiwá people, “because we are everything that they do not want in our country.”
This assault had been widely expected, given the statements made by Bolsonaro not only during the election campaign—“Not even a square inch more to the Indians!”—but also a few days before the start of his term, when the former army captain took aim at none other than the mother of all indigenous reservations, the Raposa Serra do Sol indigenous area (approved in 2005 by President Lula after a struggle of more than 30 years), ominously calling for it being put to “rational use.” The Ministry of Labor was also dissolved, whose functions have been divided between the Ministry of Justice and Public Safety—as if labor was a police matter—and the Ministry of Economics and Citizenship, while the Ministry of Culture—something towards which the new regime has a clear hostility—was simply eliminated altogether.
The National Council of Food and Nutritional Security was also dissolved, whose task had been to fight for food that is healthy, non-industrialized and free of chemical poisons, something clearly incompatible with the agricultural policies that will be pursued by “the muse of pesticides.” With the Ministry of Human Rights merged with that of Women and Family Affairs, under the leadership of Evangelical pastor Damares Alves (the one who said she saw Jesus at the foot of a guava tree), LGBT people entirely disappeared from policies aimed at the promotion of human rights, in a country that already “kills the most LGBT in the world,” as the leader of PCdoB, Manuela D’Avila, recalled.
Within the Ministry of Education, the Secretariat of Continuing Education, Literacy, Diversity and Inclusion was also eliminated, and, with that move, the themes of human rights, of intercultural education and of the very concept of diversity will disappear from the educational agenda. This was announced by Minister Ricardo Velez Rodriguez, a champion of the “traditional values of society,” handpicked by Olavo de Carvalho, Bolsonaro’s ideological guru, who is on a personal crusade against the so-called “priesthood of darkness”: Marxism, psychoanalysis, existentialism, liberation theology, and moral, cultural and ethical relativism. “Training citizens for the labor market,” commented Bolsonaro on Twitter, “the opposite perspective to that of previous governments, which knowingly aimed at forming minds who would be slaves to the ideas of socialist domination.”
While the new president admitted he won the presidency with the help of the army commander, General Eduardo Villas Boas, not without a disturbing allusion to some secret agreement between the two (“General, what we talked about will stay between us”), the neo-fascist regime now in power is poised to start off its own witch hunt, beginning with the precarious workers in public administration suspected of PT sympathies: according to a column by Ascânio Seleme, editor-in-chief of O Globo, those who have posted on social media anything to do with “Ele não” (“Not him”), “Fora Temer” (“Temer out”) and even “Marielle vive” (“Marielle lives,” referring to Marielle Franco, the head of the Socialism and Liberty Party who was assassinated in 2018) will risk losing their job.