Tue Apr 23, 2024
April 23, 2024

January 8 in Brazil: Confronting the Coup Plotters and the Far-Right with a Politics of Class Independence

Monday, January 8, marked exactly one year since the coup attempt orchestrated by the Bolsonarists. After 12 months, with the series of facts that have come to light, the objective behind that move has become quite clear. Contrary to what Bolsonaro and Bolsonarismo claim, it was not a “spontaneous” movement, the result of an alleged indignation over their defeat in the elections. On the contrary, it was the result of a project and process of attacks and threats to democratic freedoms, with the aim of reversing the electoral result, returning the far right to power, and imposing an authoritarian regime.

By: Editorial Board of Opinión Socialista

The acts of looting, as well as the series of roadblocks set up in recent months, the attack on the Federal Police headquarters in December, and the thwarted terrorist attack on the Brasilia airport, were aimed at creating a reactionary climate and social conflict in favor of a dictatorship. The declared objective was to push for the decree of a GLO (Guarantee of Law and Order), creating the conditions for the Armed Forces Command to be able to impose what was the main demand of the movement: federal intervention, or a military coup, with Bolsonaro as president.

However, the signs that Bolsonarism, defeated in the elections, could lead to something like what happened on Capitol Hill in the United States had appeared long before. It is enough to recall the incident in front of the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) in March 2020, when the president and his entourage denounced the investigations against him and his family and, ironically, attacked the Centrão. They continued in the following years, throughout his mandate, and started stoking social conflict during the electoral period, as in the fake meeting with ambassadors in which Bolsonaro, at a disadvantage in the polls, warned of possible electoral fraud in case of defeat.

The blatant coup action of the Federal Highway Police during the voting and the “coup plan” found in the home of Anderson Torres, left no doubt about what this gang in power was planning. It was unlikely that the coup would succeed. At that time however, unlike in 1964, most of U.S. and European imperialism was opposed to such a thing, as was most of the Brazilian ruling class. But a coup was likely because it had the support of a section of the bourgeoisie, Trump himself, and not inconsiderable sections of the armed forces.

Impunity Again

If, after a year, the coup attempt of January 8, 2023 and its long preparation are obvious, it is also obvious that there was coordination from above, a leadership and intellectual authors, starting with Bolsonaro and countless members of the cupula and the command of the Armed Forces. But if the small fish attracted by the coup were arrested and received high and exemplary sentences handed down from the Supreme Federal Court, those who really led the movement have remained free. Starting with Bolsonaro himself.

Other bigwigs who participated and were part of the coup are still at large, such as the Governor of the Federal District, Ibaneis Rocha (MDB), who was suspended for 90 days, but returned to office. The participation of his prime minister in January 8 was clear, but only Anderson Torres, Bolsonaro’s former Minister of Justice and then Secretary of Security in the Federal District, was arrested on January 14, but is now also free.

Gonçalves Dias, retired general and then head of the Cabinet of Institutional Security of the Presidency of the Republic (GSI), has also remained unpunished. Images from the Internal Security Circuit of the Planalto Palace even showed the minister on the scene while agents collaborated with the Bolsonaristas.

As for the financiers, in September the Federal Police executed 53 search and seizure warrants. The main targets were the people who financed the buses that brought the coup supporters to Brasilia. So far, only one businessman, accused by the MPF of chartering four buses, has been formally charged. And these are still the small fish. The owners of the large sums of money that supported the roadblocks and the months-long encampments in the barracks, which gathered tens of thousands of people, have not even been named.

The January 8 Event Does Not Fight Against Coupism

On January 8, 2024, the Lula government and the leadership of the PT, CUT and other leftist parties called for a rally against last year’s coup attempt. However, far from signifying a true rejection and the orientation of a contrary policy and a consistent confrontation with the coup plotters, the act called “democracy” bets on conciliation with the military command and the coup sectors, who themselves are betting on the end of the regime. And there is no doubt that they will return to this path as soon as they have the opportunity.

The PSTU, which quickly called for an action against the coup of 2023, in unity of action with the PT and all those who want to defeat it, placing itself in the front line against the far-right, has not been present in these actions led by the Lula government, the STF, and the National Congress. This is due to the fact that these acts do not confront the coup plotters in a consistent way, but on the contrary, they go in the direction of reconciliation and amnesty for the coup plotters.

This retreaded discourse of reconciliation was the one that set the tone during the transitional period of the military dictatorship, and the cowardice in confronting the coup perpetrators inherited the excesses including Article 142, which leaves room for the military to act as a “moderating power.” In addition, we may well remember the absolute impunity of the murderers and torturers of that period, and the very structure and daily practices of the military police, which reproduces torture and summary executions in the peripheries against poor and black youth.

In order to really fight the perpetrators of the coup d’état, it is necessary to confront, investigate, and punish the perpetrators, starting from the high command of the armed forces. And not, as Lula is doing, to put his representative at the head of the Ministry of Defense. Minister José Múcio himself has repeated to anyone who will listen that he is and acts as the representative of the military in the government. In the same sense, it is necessary to bury Article 142 once and for all. It is necessary to act to demilitarize the Military Police, not to reinforce its military character, which has included the reproduction of organs of the dictatorship, such as the recent Organic Law of the Military Police approved by Lula.

This year’s January 8 event, in the name of “democracy,” that is, this democracy of the rich, on the contrary, bets on conciliation with the military and coup sectors, including Centrão itself, with Arthur Lira as its maximum representative. In addition to being sectors that have been at Bolsonaro’s side, supporting and sustaining his dictatorship project, they are representatives of the far right, which in the last month has led real attacks against the workers, voting for the Temporary Framework against indigenous peoples, granting billions of dollars in exemptions to big business, and supporting the fiscal framework that takes money away from public services to give it to the bankers.

In other words, this policy of governing with and for the bourgeoisie, agribusiness, big business, and bankers, together with the Centrão, in addition to sharing power with the pro-coup sectors, is deepening the same conditions that promoted Bolsonarismo back then and created the conditions for them to reach the presidency, take over a large part of the National Congress, and take command in several states, including the most important one, São Paulo.

The anniversary of January 8 thus reinforces the need for a left opposition that can be a real alternative to the system in the eyes of the working class, the poor majority of the population, and its most oppressed sectors, such as black people, indigenous people, LGBTI people, and women.

Article published in www.opiniaosocialista.com.br, 8/1/2024.

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