Great coup plotter. Jair Bolsonaro, escorted by the chiefs of the armed forces, attended the parade of war vehicles held in the center of Brasilia. After months leading motorcycle caravans, perhaps inspired by Benito Mussolini’s motorized choreography, now the retired captain has climbed one more notch in his destabilizing march. He blessed a procession of tanks and tanks that paraded in front of the legislative palace.
What was seen on Tuesday was “pathetic” declared the former president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Favorite for next year’s elections in the face of a Bolsonaro worn out by public opinion but apparently solidly backed by generals, admirals and brigadiers. And considered as a leader, or “myth”, by the members of the paramilitary militias.
Units arrived in Brasilia this Tuesday will participate in military exercises next week in Formosa, a city in the neighboring state of Goias.. These are maneuvers carried out every year since 1988, but this was the first time that there was such a trip to the Planalto Palace just to deliver an invitation to the ruler. It is obvious that the invitation was a pretext for the olive green uniforms to be displayed, for a few hours, in the capital of the Republic.
At 8.30 in the morning, a military man in heavy combat clothes climbed the Planalto ramp until he squared off in front of Bolsonaro. The soulless, forced steps of the military personnel and a black smoke emitted by an armored vehicle due to the apparent bad combustion gave the scene an air of caricature. This was seen by some media, including the Globo group, the empire now regretful of its Bolsonarist past. In social networks, the smoke screen fueled mockery and comparisons with the cartoon strip Los Autos Locos. The international press immediately echoed the facts. The English newspaper The Guardian tituló “Bolsonaro´s Banana Republic”.
With this event Bolsonaro tried to pressure the deputies hours before the start of a session called to discuss the reform of the voting system with electronic ballot boxes which the government wants to replace with printed votes, claiming that the current model lends itself to fraud.
Jokes about the occupant of the Planalto are a thing of every day. The former captain is as much or more pathetic than the former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori or the Philippine tyrant, Rodrigo Duterte, all three who came to power through elections. However, these personality traits of the Brazilian are far from making him harmless. It is frivolous to underestimate their competence – and their obsession – to implant a totalitarian regime, be it a dictatorship or something similar. Beyond satires, the political situation in this gigantic country is dramatic: its republican system has been corroded little by little with the daily onslaught, and this Tuesday was one of the most treacherous.
After this military walk this Tuesday there is less democracy than there was on Monday. Because whether or not the legislators want to vote on the reform of the electoral system, they will take into account the opinion of the military chiefs and the retired captain to whom they respond. A month ago, military commanders and Defense Minister Walter Souza Braga Netto warned the Senate that corruption investigations into the military would not be tolerated, after which the senators appeared to be tame.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also did not shy away from using ironies in his comment about the spectacular convoy displaced to the government house. He defined as “pathetic the scene” in which Bolsonaro “received an invitation” to attend the combat simulations to be carried out in Goias. He recalled that former presidents José Sarney, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer They never did a similar ceremony to receive the troops before the maneuvers.
The head of the Workers’ Party denied versions of his intention to write a public letter addressed to the military with a conciliatory spirit. “There is no letter for the military, if there were any letter it would be for the Brazilian people and within them are the military.” And he concluded by deploring the overpopulation of generals in government, “If a military man wants to do politics that resigns his post, takes off his uniform and campaigns, there is no problem there.”
The ramp of the Planalto symbolizes with its rather steep incline the strenuous path that leads to the peak of republican power. Up there they were located this Tuesday the heads of the Army, Navy and Aeronautics: General Paulo Sergio Oliveira, Admiral Almir Garnier Santos and Brigadier Carlos Almeida Baptista. Along with them was the retired General Minister of Defense, Walter Souza Braga Netto. The four are the leaders of a non-existent group in the electoral justice system, the military party.
One of the possible readings of this Tuesday’s tancazo is to consider that party as the main support of a president who does not even have party affiliation after having broken with the Social Liberal Party and failing in his project to create the Alliance for Brazil, which never gathered the number of signatures required to be recognized.
The party of generals, admirals and brigadiers met this Tuesday in the Planalto – where the main ministries occupy – to intimidate the deputies who were preparing to discuss the restoration of the paper vote, a whim of Bolsonaro that it does not have great support in Congress.
On the night of this Tuesday or throughout the week, when the voting concludes, it will be known whether the official project in favor of the old-fashioned suffrage triumphed or the electronic ballot boxes remain standing, which is the hypothesis with the most chances of victory by the moment.
If the government project fails, it will be a defeat for the military party but not a coup de grace. Its existence tends to last either to pressure the elections (the military made it known that they are vetoing Lula’s return) or to continue with the attacks such as the one that occurred this Tuesday, which are a kind of micro-blows that are ending the political regime.