Political instability in Brazil may give way to a military coup, the New York Times reported Wednesday, as the Latin American nation weathers an increasing death toll due to the coronavirus outbreak and President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the crisis.
"It's no longer an opinion about if, but when this will happen," Bolsonaro's son Eduardo said recently.
Today's New York Times headline aptly captures the grim situation in Brazil:
"Coup Threats Rattle Brazil as Virus Deaths Surge" https://t.co/PozrfGdkU3
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 10, 2020
Fears of a coup have heightened in Latin America's largest democracy as the country's government has proven incapable of handling the pandemic and the challenges of governing the federal state.
As the Times reported:
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The threats are swirling around the president: Deaths from the virus in Brazil each day are now the highest in the world. Investors are fleeing the country. The president, his sons and his allies are under investigation. His election could even be overturned.
But, the paper continued, rather than fearing these threats, Bolsonaro is leaning into them and welcoming the possibility of a return to the military dictatorship he was a part of in the early 1980s during his time as a captain in the army.
It's unclear whether or not the military will step in, but Bolsonaro's leadership of Brazil has led to protests and uprisings around the nation and spiraling unrest.
And it's not only a fear of the military. Bolsonaro could push to expand his power and ignore the curbs on the executive branch from the courts and the legislature, effectively arriving at the same end result of dictatorship.
Note for people watching Brazil - a coup would not involve Bolsonaro saying "I'm doing a coup!! Are you with me, fellow golpistas??" - the President could claim simply an independent source of power (Supreme Court, or Congress) overstepped, and ignore a decision they have made.
— Vincent Bevins (@Vinncent) June 10, 2020
"How do democracies die? You don't need a military coup," former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso told reporters. "The president himself can seek extraordinary powers, and he can take them."