Fascist autocratic rulers cannot tolerate loss of power


Brazil is in turmoil. On October 30 last year, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated Jair Bolsonaro in the Presidential elections ending the latter’s four years dictatorial rule. Bolsonaro, a retired army captain, with the backing of the US President Donald Trump assumed power on 1 January 2019. From day one, Bolsonaro went on trampling on the rights of indigenous communities, casting aside environmental laws and tinkering with the education system in order to ‘‘free’’ Brazil from the clutches of left-wing thoughts. On the campaign trail, he advocated giving the police and the army unfettered rights and railed against members of the coloured community, feminists and the indigenous people. Bolsonaro has been openly saying that he is a proud ‘‘homophobe’’ Bolsonaro also did not give a damn about Brazil’s rainforest, which is called the lungs of the world. He had promised to cast aside the strict environmental laws that have managed to protect a sizeable part of the Amazon from depredation by agriculturists, ranchers, and miners. He had compared indigenous communities living in the Amazon to animals living in the zoo. Bolsonaro was also an unabashed supporter of the brutal military regime that ran Brazil for two decades since the mid -1960s.
In a speech delivered after he was sworn in, Bolsonaro was at his incendiary best. He said that his election signalled the freeing of Brazilians ‘‘from socialism’’. Like his role model Donald Trump, Bolsonaro was known for shooting from the hip and cares little for facts or truth. Brazil had never had a socialist economy despite being under the rule of the left-wing Workers’ Party for much of the last decade and a half. It was corruption on a grand scale under a capitalist system that laid the groundwork for the emergence of a racist demagogue like Bolsonaro. A significant number of the top officials he had appointed were from the military. Bolsonaro’s Government threatened to severe diplomatic relations with Cuba and Bolsonaro himself made derogatory comments about Cuban medical professionals working among the poor and downtrodden in remote areas of Brazil. Incidentally, Cuba started deploying doctors in Brazil in 2013 following a request from the then Brazilian government.
Bolsonaro’s Government curtailed the budget for research in science and technology and withdrew two scientists from the list of the awardees who protested wrong policy of his government during the period of Covid pandemic. 21 eminent scientists of Brazil rejected their medals in protest of this decision. They said, ‘‘This act of protest, which saddens us, expresses our indignation at the destruction of Brazil’s university system and of science and technology in general.’’ From the beginning of his tenure, Bolsonaro moved decisively to undermine Brazil’s democratic institutions and state capacity on the grounds that he was saving the country from communism. By pitting his supporters against imaginary enemies, he could successfully dodge accusations of incompetence, corruption and even crimes against public health during the COVID pandemic which killed nearly 700,000 Brazilians. But gradually people started opposing his heinous policies and this brought Bolsonaro’s defeat. But in the two months between election and next president’s inauguration, Bolsonaro and his party sowed suspicion over the voting machines and questioning the integrity of the electoral process. It culminated to rally his supporters, who blocked roads, threatened political opponents, and built camps in front of army barracks, all the while calling for military intervention.
Hence, grievances were mounting against him and his defeat in the Presidential election despite every possible attempt to manipulate the verdict, vouches for that. But Bolsonaro was not ready to give up so easily. He began weaving ploys to regain power by pressing his supporters into action. Just a week after the inauguration of Brazil’s newly elected President Luis Ignacio ‘‘Lula’’ da Silva, a pro-fascist mob attempted to engineer a military coup against his government, by attacking key government buildings in Brasilia, the capital. As of the morning of 9 January 2023, this attempt was foiled. Democratically elected leaders in Latin America, especially those who are known to be anti-imperialist specially anti-US imperialists-in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia, Venezuela and Cuba—immediately condemned the coup attempt. There is no doubt that his rejection of the electoral mandate had led to the frenzy. The chaos was a new low for democracy in South America, a continent notorious for its dictatorships and autocracies.
The storming of Brazil’s National Congress, the Planalto presidential residence and the Supreme Court building, the three centres of Brazil’s capitalist democracy, mimicked in astounding detail the 6 January 2021 attack on the US Congress by a vandalizing mob stated to be supporters of defeated US President Trump who lost to Joe Biden. What happened in the US two years ago had its genesis in the ‘baseless’ allegations made by Trump regarding the conduct of the 2020 presidential election. It was evident that Bolsonaro took a leaf out of Trump’s book to whip up trouble. The Brazilian authorities, as seen by all, did not derive necessary lesson from the US Capitol invasion nor pre-empted possibility of a similar incident in their own country. One would recall that Indira Gandhi, in order to stem her possible ouster from power, amended law to extend the life of her government which was shaking in mass-movements; she demolished many elected provincial governments by imposing out and out anti-democratic law Article 356 declaring presidential rule in those states which were governed by the opposition parties. Now the BJP government of India is also following the same path of curbing hard earned democratic and civil rights of the people by enacting black laws, subverting relative autonomy of the democratic institutions and bodies, turned election into a farce by making it subservient to money-muscle-media-administrative power, flouting one after another democratic codes and norms. In case it faces defeat in any state elections, the BJP leadership is engineering defections from other parties with the help of its enormous money power and forming its government. This we saw in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and some of the North-eastern states. It is shamelessly abusing political power and using administrative machinery to win in the hustings by hook or by crook. Even some regional bourgeois parties as well as social democratic parties in India are also adopting the same tactics to snatch electoral victory. The goons of the ruling party create a state of terror to rig the election. Crossing the boundary of India if we look at the neighbouring countries, we will meet the ‘same boat brothers’ of Bolsonaro. They may be General Parvez Musharraf, Begum Khaleda Jiya or Sheikh Hasina, Rajapakse or the Military dictators of the Myanmar. They are all fascist rulers who had no respect for democracy, no commitment left for the common multitude. They are the puppets in the hands of the corporate giants. They are not satisfied with lumpsum profit; they are hungry for super-profits. To earn that they would wipe away all obstacles. Same attitude is manifested through the political parties they are backing. They are also hankering for super-stability. The promise for democracy, free and impartial election, dignity of people’s opinion has been consigned to oblivion. This is the murky face of power-mongering fascist autocrats, whether in Brazil, US, or India.

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