Aug 09, 2022
More than 800,000 Brazilians have signed a pro-democracy manifesto ahead of nationwide demonstrations this Thursday and amid growing fears that right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro--who is trailing by double-digits in recent polling--may attempt a coup if he is not reelected in October.
"There is nothing more important than defending democracy and elections."
The proclamation, published by the University of Sao Paulo School of Law, asserts that "the solution to the immense challenges facing Brazilian society necessarily involves respect for the results of the elections. In civic vigil against attempts at ruptures, we cry out in unison: Democratic rule of law, always!"
The letter, which never mentions Bolsonaro by name, is set to be read on Thursday--National Student's Day--at what's being billed as a national mobilization across Brazil in defense of democracy and free elections and against cuts in education spending.
Groups including Unified Workers' Central (CUT), the country's main national trade union center, plan to hit the streets in at least 21 of Brazil's 26 state capitals, as well as in the national capital Brasilia.
"There is nothing more important than defending democracy and elections," CUT president Sergio Nobre toldReconta Ai. "CUT will support all initiatives, manifestos, and actions taken in defense of democracy, the electoral system, and electronic voting machines."
\u201cO povo organizado nas ruas vai dar o seu recado em defesa da democracia, pelas elei\u00e7\u00f5es livres e contra os cortes na educa\u00e7\u00e3o!\n\n11 de agosto vai ser o dia Nacional de Mobiliza\u00e7\u00e3o Fora Bolsonaro e a concentra\u00e7\u00e3o no Rio vai acontecer a partir das 16h, na Candel\u00e1ria. Bora! \u270a\ud83c\udfff\u201d— Tal\u00edria Petrone (@Tal\u00edria Petrone) 1659632430
Bolsonaro has often cast baseless aspersions upon Brazil's electronic voting system, which has been in use since 1996 without evidence of irregularities.
Former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva--a member of the leftist Workers' Party--leads Bolsonaro by 10 points in aggregate polling for the first round contest, which will take place on October 2. Da Silva's aggregate lead rises to a formidable 17 points in runoff round surveys.
Democracy defenders fear that Bolsonaro and his running mate, former Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, will be true to their threats to reject the results of the election if they lose under the current electronic voting system.
"We are going through a moment of immense danger to democratic normality, of risk to the institutions of the republic, and of insinuations of contempt for the results of the elections," the new manifesto warns.
The publication continues:
Groundless attacks unaccompanied by evidence question the fairness of the electoral process and the democratic rule of law so hard won by Brazilian society. Threats to other powers and sectors of civil society and the incitement to violence and the breakdown of the constitutional order are intolerable.
We have recently witnessed authoritarian rants that have jeopardized secular American democracy. There, attempts to destabilize democracy and the people's confidence in the fairness of the elections were unsuccessful. Here, they won't be either.
"Imbued with the civic spirit that underpinned the 1977 Letter to Brazilians... we call on Brazilians to be alert in the defense of democracy and respect for the election result," the document's authors implore. "In today's Brazil there is no more room for authoritarian setbacks. Dictatorship and torture belong to the past."
"We have recently witnessed authoritarian rants that have jeopardized secular American democracy."
Brazilian lawyer and former Justice Minister Jose Carlos Dias helped write both the new manifesto and the 1977 Letter to Brazilians, a denunciation of the U.S.-backed military dictatorship that had ruled the country since seizing power in a 1964 coup supported by the CIA and the administration of then-President Lyndon B. Johnson, who ordered a naval task force to Brazil for possible intervention.
The dictatorship--during which Bolsonaro, an army paratrooper, rose through the ranks--ruled through state terror and torture, which was taught by U.S. agents using political prisoners as test subjects. Victims included future leftist President Dilma Rousseff, whose torturer, as well as the dictatorship itself, have been praised by Bolsonaro.
Just as the 1977 letter added fuel to the flames of resistance that eventually brought down the dictatorship and ushered in a transition to democracy, Dias believes the new manifesto can make a difference today.
\u201cEm 8 de agosto de 1977, Goffredo da Silva Telles J\u00fanior leu na Faculdade de Direito da USP, Largo S\u00e3o Francisco, a "Carta aos Brasileiros". Foto do @heliocamposmello. Nesta quinta-feira, dia 11 de agosto de 2022, a sociedade civil vai se reunir de novo para defender a democracia.\u201d— Patricia Campos Mello (@Patricia Campos Mello) 1659969684
"I lived under one dictatorship and I do not want to live under another," the 83-year-old toldThe Guardian. "Brazil is in intensive care. We have an utterly deranged president who... pays homage to torturers and dictators. We face the risk of having to live through a dictatorship once again--and this is inconceivable."
"The polls show [Bolsonaro] will be defeated. But there's no doubt that he's laying the groundwork for a coup," Dias asserted.
"It's my belief that he wants to repeat what happened in the Capitol in the United States," he added, a reference to the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection spurred by then-U.S. President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by Democrats.
The new Brazilian proclamation follows a July 26 manifesto signed by more than 3,000 business leaders including some of the nation's wealthiest people defending the country's electronic voting system.
Earlier in July, a group of Brazilian Jewish academics, jurists, and politicians published a proclamation calling on voters to "defeat Nazi sympathizers" by voting for da Silva in the first round, for "if there is a second round, [Bolsonaro] points to the possibility of a military coup."
"I won't use other adjectives," he said during a speech to bankers on Monday, "because I'm a very polite person."
We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.
We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.
Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!
Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.