Brazil – Crises and Deadlocks

  Walter Sorrentino
Brazil is involved in serious events. The fundamental trend is President Bolsonaro’s strategy to promote institutional ruptures and change the political, economic and social regime included in the Constitution.

The central platform for this is to attack the democratic rule of law, promote political polarization and social chaos, align Brazil with the US strategy of isolating us from a multilateral relation with nations, including Latin America and China. Today, under siege, he is going through a new dictatorship, a neo-fascist authoritarianism, as in the shadow of the current constitution, to concentrate power aiming prevent the abolition of his mandate and his re-election in 2022.

The situation is very dynamic and unstable, facts and contradictions are being accumulated. First, there is a context of a rapid and deep change around the world. One of the most decisive changes is the transition from hegemony underway at the international level. The world no longer lives under the sign of unipolarity and the current crisis of the pandemic and the capitalist economy, has put another nail in that coffin. The United States’ ability to lead the world is not so big anymore, its hegemony is no longer indisputable, despite all its power; China is growing economically and technologically, increasing its role in the international scenario and its global moral influence for a shared destiny of humanity. Multilateralism reaches stronger bases. This is the tendency to be highlighted: presided over by Bolsonaro, Brazil was fully captured in this unhealthy dynamic of the US strategy.


A second trend in Brazilian situation is the confluence and worsening of three major crises. In the pandemic, the country leads, behind only the United States, the development of COVID-19 with more than 800,000 infected and over 40,000 human lives losses. It is more than the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean added, although we have just over a third of the total population. We have not reached the top of disease yet, estimated for July-August. Health indicators shows that it will exceed 100 thousand dead.

Among the several factors that spread this insidious infection, one of them is that, in Brazil, the federal government was clearly promoted a sabotage against social isolation, through the generalized prescription of chloroquine, inciting the false contradiction between saving the economy and not lives. Bolsonaro has already fired two health ministers and now the Ministry is a military one without a titular yet. It has introduced a new methodology to (dis) inform the number of cases and deaths by COVID-19, aiming to reduce the impact of the disease and promote the end of social confinement. Like Trump, Bolsonaro conspires to take the country out of WHO. Other huge crisis is that of the economy and its deep social consequences. The pandemic brought about an abrupt supply and demand shock, overcoming a pre-existing economic depression, with three years of recession and stagnation. There are 8.6 million new unemployed people who accounted for more than 40% of the workforce in unemployment or precarious situations. GDP fell 1.5% in the quarter, with an estimated – 5.7% to 9% in the year.

In addition, another critical situation is added, at the political and institutional level. It is caused by Bolsonaro’s permanent political conflagration movements against the other powers of the Republic and Federation, against the left and against the national interest, in the direction of openly preaching institutional ruptures. His acolytes argue that the Constitution supposedly covers the role of the Moderating Power of the Armed Forces, which is an obvious and explicit legal absurdity.

In this political and institutional sphere, we can speak of a third trend that is strengthening in the country. Bolsonaro suffers increasing political isolation, going to the corner of the ring, while increasing his aggressive reaction typical of those who are cornered, with his political technique of never retreating, always fleeing forward, doubling the threat bets.

The general alienation of government in relation to the pandemic, the ruinous management of the State, the complete lack of decorum in office, without having a solid political base in Congress (now without a Party), cornered him. The participation of his children in the hate offices that promoted the machines for spreading fake news (even during the electoral campaign) with illicit funding, the attacks on the Judiciary and the dismissal of Minister Sergio Moro, make him the target of growing rejection and restraint by the political system and various legal investigations. The impeachment of the president, or even the impeachment of the ticket, including the vice-president, is on the horizon.

However, Bolsonaro, his clan and members of the government cannot be underestimated in the real intention of causing an institutional rupture. The police State is almost an evidence. The fascist snake egg is already present in militia activities, in preaching to arm the population and release weapons and ammunition belonging to the Armed Forces; also in the mobilization of the low and middle echelons of the Military Police, as well as in a parallel information system provided by members of the Federal Police. This cannot be considered mere swagger.


Based on this, the fourth trend in the current situation is established. It is an important change in the conjuncture: the broad union of democratic, progressive and popular forces was definitively established to give an “Enough!” to the Bolsonaro government.

This movement involves majority of civil society, as well as popular organizations and political parties.

Manifestos and manifestations, articulations of all kinds, composed by forces each with their vision of the future to the country, come together in the same tuning fork, an effective front that is not notary, for democracy and the democratic rule of law, for life and for social rights.

This also includes an evident division of the political system and the interests of the ruling classes, which want to get rid of the president and put their forces on the field. It is an organic movement in these sectors, from the democratic right to the right centre. It is better equipped with its institutional powers, such as the mainstream media (almost unanimous against Bolsonaro), sacred institutions like the Federal Supreme Court and even in portions of economic power groups, whose thinking is explicitly divided over the prescription of austerity policies and fiscal state to grow by attracting foreign capital – which is still the lunatic orientation of the Minister of Economy.

The four trends pointed out are currently leading to an impasse. Bolsonaro fails to impose the desired institutional ruptures, rejected by majority of society, by the Federal Supreme Court and much of the National Congress. For that, it would be necessary to drag the Armed Forces as institutions, which is not a way out, because they would be demoralized by a situation without glory before the whole of society. However, they take care, because it is vital, for their hierarchy and discipline (against partisanship of their troops) and, above all, to guarantee the monopoly of arms, against weapons to population to form militias.

The other impasse pole is that the democratic movement still needs to accumulate greater political, economic and social forces for an impeachment process or the impeachment of the elected slate in 2018. Clearly, they did not gather the forces necessary to definitively isolate and defeat Bolsonaro – today we were unable to reach 172 signatories in the Chamber of Deputies to request a Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry; we have something like 130 members, but need more than 300 for an impeachment.

We should take in account that we are still studying the appropriate ways to affirm the weight of the streets and give the political struggle a mass dimension, our genetic heritage. Anti-racist and anti-fascist movements are growing, women and young people are super active, as are social fronts and union centrals. The question is how to preserve the discourse of social isolation to save lives and the economic recovery itself, in the face of a pandemic that is still intensifying and far from the peak of the curve.

Faced with these elements, a debate involves our forces of left and left centre, progressive in general, of popular organizations in particular – what is the core of political action at this moment? A unified and coherent response is still being constructed. We think it is decisive to struggle centrally for life and democracy, for the broad union of forces to save the nation from the abyss. It is necessary to bring together in political action all those who are ready at this moment to fight against the main enemy, Bolsonarism, to defend democracy, whatever their past position, ideology and future political project. This reflects that we do not underestimate the enemy’s strategy in any way, and that we do not consider Bolsonarism without Bolsonaro.

Democratic forces cannot be divided by interests in the future presidential election of 2022. Clearly, those who make up the broad union of these forces have different perspectives for the post-pandemic project and for a nation project. Thus, at the same time, it is evident that the most advanced forces need to build a popular unity with a new project to remove the country from its current situation and development, in accordance with national, democratic and popular interests. The two tasks – a broad democratic front and popular unity – operate in two complementary and combined, but distinct bands, with different political times and rhythms.