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Don’t Call It A Coup: Brazil’s Institutions Are Working Just Fine

By: Hana Fischer - @hana_fischer - Apr 4, 2016, 12:17 pm
coup in Brazil
For leftist governments, the “people” exist only when they are needed for something (Wikimedia)

EspañolOn his Facebook, Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for a march in Brasilia, which he was supposed to lead but ultimately did not.

The march was intended to pressure the Parliamentarians, who are considering the impeachment of Lulu’s successor President Dilma Rousseff — a strategy meant to present the situation as an “attempted coup.”

Using Orwellian language, participants in the march called their efforts a “defense of democracy.” Additional appeals to emotion made claims that if the Workers Party (PT) were to be displaced from power, it would be disastrous for labor rights at stake. This approach to the issue is now being deemed “Lava Jato.”

Most of the leftist leaders who have been ruling the region in recent decades are not Republicans. The democratic system has been a means to gaining power, but once this target is reached, democracy is set aside.

For example, Rousseff swore in Lula as Minister as a way to “shield him” against prosecution. During this ceremony, she harshly criticized the judges investigating Lula for alleged corruption — cataloging Parliament members as “coup plotters” actively seeking her dismissal. Her words reveal contempt for the separation of powers and the “checks and balances” role of government. The precise purpose of this constitutional principle is to prevent a government from becoming despotic.

So it is clear there is a lot of ignorance about the foundations of a democratic republic.

None of the powers is more important than the other two. But members of Unasur have conveyed the idea that only a Republic’s president has democratic legitimacy. Consequently, any attempt to limit his power or to investigate him journalistically or judicially is now seen as a “coup.”

Uruguayan President and current president of Unsaur Tabare Vazquez released a statement saying “the institutional order is respected in Brazil,” describing the crisis as a “clash of Justice against the Executive Branch.”

Immediately, Bolivia’s Evo Morales requested the convening of a UNASUR summit to collectively denounce the “judicial and media Coup.” Uruguay’s Jose “Pepe” Mujica joined in on distorting the facts by stating that judicial corruption against Lula.

The Uruguayan government initiative did not prosper due to Argentina’s and Paraguay’s opposition. Basing its refusal to sign the declaration, the Paraguayan Deputy Foreign Minister Oscar Cabello claimed respect for the country’s sovereignty. He noted “any statement either for or against anyone” is necessary.

As for Mujica, experience indicates he should not be taken very seriously, he himself claiming once that “As I tell you one thing, I tell you the other.”

Lula’s dubious intellectual honesty was evident during the mensalão case. At that time, he emphatically denied any knowledge about the scheme implemented in the PT to buy votes from legislators. In 2005, when this web of corruption came to public light, the outraged Lula said he felt “betrayed by unacceptable practices unknown to him.”

[adrotate group=”7″]Mujica, president from 2010 to 2015, supported Lula, saying, “he is not corrupt, as Collor de Mello and other Brazilian presidents were.”

But in the interviews conducted by journalists Andrés Dance and Ernesto Tulbovitz when writing the play “A Black Sheep to Power,” Mujica said that in Brasilia in early 2010, Lula had told him “bribing deputies was the only way to govern this country.”

However, in the book presentation in Montevideo, following the scandal that erupted in Brazil after this publication, Mujica said Lula “was not aware of mensalão” and he had never spoken to any Brazilian about that topic.

The mentioned Unasur move intended to convey the idea that the institutional order of Brazil is not being threatened when in fact just the opposite is happening. It is admirable that the same yardstick is used to judge the poor offender and the powerful white collar ones. Finally “equality before the law” is a reality and not a mere rhetoric test.

Besides, these rulers’ concept of “people” shows their great hypocrisy: they use popular discontent to achieve their own goals. These people use and skillfully channel popular discontent in certain areas, to achieve interests and objectives. In the past, Lula was a leading social agitator. When impeachment against former president Fernando Collor de Mello was promoted, Lula said at a rally:

“For the first time in Latin America, the Brazilian people gave a demonstration that it is possible that the same people who elected a politician, dismiss him (…) We defend the thesis that, from the moment the people vote one candidate, whether a Representative or a Mayor, and if after a certain time that candidate is not fulfilling his campaign program, those same voters who elected the person may remove him. If we achieve that, it would be the salvation of this country.”

What is happening in Brazil is far from being an attempted coup. That accusation conforms to Rousseff’s anti-Republican and anti-democratic intention to transfer the command to Lula.

On the contrary, what we are witnessing is the proper functioning of republican institutions: A free press that informs, a public opinion expressed peacefully, a judiciary that rigorously and independently investigates, respecting the guarantees of due process and a Parliament which counterbalances the Executive, acting in accordance with constitutional rules.

Hana Fischer Hana Fischer

Hana Fischer was born in and resides in Uruguay. She serves as a writer, researcher, and international affairs columnist in different media outlets. A specialist in philosophy, politics, and economics, she has written several books and received honorable mentions. Follow her @hana_fischer.