Brazil has a long history of right-wing dictatorships – especially with the involvement of the army. They overthrew the elected government in 1964 and ruled continuously until 1985. It was a very brutal rule that saw thousands killed, tortured, and ‘disappeared”. And yes…that era exactly matches the dictatorship established here under Burnham – which was only different in scale, not substance!! Several of our GDF officers received training in Brazil…and used that training to help Burnham subvert democracy here. They helped give the region the reputation of being derisively dubbed “banana republics”- where the rule of law degenerated into the law of the jungle!!
Slowly Brazil clawed it’s way back into the democratic fold after its economy – like Guyana’s – tanked and inflation became a runaway train in the 80s – leaving the countries on the rails!! But the right-wing politicians and their supporters in the military remained potent forces. And the reformers there and here had to drink the bitter neo-liberal brew!! When the leftist-leaning Lula was elected in the new millennium many felt that Brazil had shed its unsavory flirtation with fascism. Especially when he repaired Brazil’s economy and stood on the world stage. The man became a star!! Sadly, he faltered – showing that democracy has its own challenges of corruption. And up stepped Bolsanaro as the man on horseback to “save” Brazil.
The former Army officer saw himself as a Latin American Trump and not surprisingly, he was slavishly racist, misogynic, homophobic, climate change denier, and neo-liberal. Like Trump, he fell victim to the COVID pandemic where the US suffered the highest number of deaths and Brazil came in second on that sweepstakes!! Like Trump, he was voted out – but by a mere whisker and he and his supporters insisted they were “cheated not defeated”!! Then last Sunday came the supreme imitation that flattered Trump – Bolsanaro’s supporters invaded the country’s Congress, the presidential palace, and the Supreme Court, in a grim echo of the U.S. Capitol invasion two years ago by Trump’s supporters.
All of these institutions are in the Capital Brasilia – which is run by a supporter of Bolsanaro!! The Bolsanaroans exhorted the army to repeat their 1964 coup d’etat –- and this remains a strong possibility! While Bolsanaro himself didn’t scream that he was cheated, he never conceded defeat and filed a case to nullify millions of votes. This was swiftly thrown out!! In the meantime. Two days before Lula’s Jan. 1 inauguration, he flew to the U.S. and took up temporary residence in Orlando. While he didn’t meet Trump at Mar a Lago, his former security advisor did that chore.
In the meantime, Brazilian Federal troops restored order and Lula promised retribution. Your Eyewitness hopes the Guyanese opposition doesn’t get ideas!!
There’s a school of thought that evil is something lurking outside of us – always ready to pounce on folks and make them do bad things. “The Devil made me do it” summarizes that perspective. Well, your Eyewitness doesn’t know about that. After meditating on the Germans who killed six million Jews – mostly German citizens – the philosopher Hannah Arendt concluded that it’s very ordinary folks who can be moved to do the most gruesome acts to their “fellow” man.
And the reasons they do so don’t have to be earth-shaking…sometimes just not wanting to make waves. As we have folks running all over the place screaming slogans like “emerging apartheid state” and yanking incidents bereft of their contexts to express outrage over “genocide”, your Eyewitness reminds our very ordinary citizens of our own history in the 1960s.
We’d lived peacefully among each other and yet in a mere split second, we were hacking away at each other.
Let’s all take a deep breath.
All of the players who were charged criminally for the 2020 rigging attempt have chosen to remain silent in front of the COI into the affaire.
What about the power of truth to set us free??