A plot to murder former President Lula da Silva [Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva], summarizing the Brazilian scenario that may lead to it, as follows, says Noam Chomsky
“More extreme measures might include killing Lula,” exclusively adds the most renowned analyst of our generation
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro (no party), a retired captain who is dramatically militarizing the politics of longtime fragile Brazilian democracy, is increasing baseless accusations to the electoral system, and threatening democracy as a whole on a daily basis. Including a military coup – nothing news when Bolsonaro, a former lawmaker who delivered just two bills across almost three decades (1989-2018), is involved. Though lately, due to the quantity and the way, those threats have gotten frightening level. As much as the Congress’, the Justice system’s, and Bolsonaro’s opponents’ passivity before all this.
“One of the features of contemporary authoritarianism, is the discourse that if I lose there was a fraud, rejecting others, rejecting that someone other than me can win elections,” said in early August Luís Roberto Barroso, Minister of the Supreme Federal Court, and President of the Superior Electoral Court.
As Brazil is in the midst of an agonizing economy and a devastating health crisis due to the pandemic of coronavirus disease, President Bolsonaro is free-falling in popularity. To get things worse to him, his main opponent, Workers’ Party’s (PT) former President Lula da Silva (2003-2011), is growingly leading opinion polling regarding the 2022 presidential elections.
Bolsonaro’s Meeting with CIA Director
In early July, becoming the Brazilian scenario even more puzzling, a secret meeting between Bolsonaro and CIA Director William Burns, took Brazil by surprise. The meeting was not on the presidential official agenda, the public came to be aware of it through the press when Burns was already in the South American country, and there hasn’t been any account by the Brasilia government about the real purpose of the meeting. It has generated several protests and requirements for accountability in the country, including by Brazilian lawyers’ groups: nothing has happened – once again, when it is about serious assaults on Brazil’s democracy in recent history.
Taking the Brazilian context into account, the meeting has been “suggestive” to Noam Chomsky, from his residence in Tucson, Arizona in a conversation with this author, especially for Weekly Blitz.
In an interview with this journalist especially for Weekly Blitz whistleblower John Kiriakou, a former CIA officer, agrees with Chomsky that the meeting was not quite normal: “a little strange,” Kiriakou says, even though he observes that it is not unusual for a CIA chief to meet with any chief of State. “Especially when that country and the United States have close diplomatic relations, and when the two intelligence services have close operational relations.”
At the current historic moment, considering, too, the dark relations between the CIA and Brazilian military in the past, unpopular issues may be behind this: Brasilia’s close operational relations with nothing less than the CIA
Kiriakou points out that in the United States, Bolsonaro is seen as a friend of Donald Trump, not as a friend of Joe Biden. “It is a surprise to me, then, that Biden’s CIA director would meet with Bolsonaro so early in the administration,” tells the first American intelligence agent to denounce U.S. intelligence torture techniques.
“I believe that this sends a dangerous message that the United States is willing to work with autocratic leaders no matter who is president and that a leader does not have to respect the rule of law to maintain close ties to the U.S.”, speaks out Kiriakou from his house, in Virginia, to the current Weekly Blitz report.
Militarization of Brazilian Politics
It is no surprise that there are currently 6,157 military officials serving the Bolsonaro regime, and several ministers.
Actually, since the beginning of his mandate in 2019, the retired captain is filling his regime with military officers, which went unnoticed by the public opinion in the first of Bolsonaro’s months in power. This reversal against democracy just gets worse through his two years and a half in office.
The current Brazilian head of State, who campaigned in 2018 openly praising the crimes against humanity committed by the military dictatorship (1964-1985), speaking out even in favor of torture against those who oppose his far-right views, was elected with massive support from the military.
These days, high-ranking military officers are crossing lines far beyond theirs: from collecting regional information about the coronavirus pandemic, to publicly criticizing justice decisions, even state governors’ policies (especially those related to containing the new coronavirus, just parroting Bolsonaro in his negationist stance), to take to the streets allegedly to solve conflicts especially related to public security, Brazil’s old, serious problem. In most cases challenging the rule of law, threatening it openly with a military coup.
The militarization of Brazil’s public security is not a method exclusively strengthened by Bolsonaro in the South American country’s contemporary history. Since Brazil’s 1985 “re-democratization” it has had critical moments particularly during the Dilma Rousseff administration (2011-2016), from Lula’s PT. However, it increased dramatically under the Michel Temer administration (2016-2018), Rousseff’s successor through a “soft coup”, now in the Bolsonaro regime reaching an alarming level.
The so-called “re-democratization” has never been accepted by the military, by some of the largest national media outlets, nor by a large part of Brazilian society especially the upper classes – including the “democratic” institutions as the justice system, deeply rooted in dictatorial methods. An elitist mind is strongly felt in every segment of Brazilian society, in big and small ways.
Lula-Dilma governments, more than 13 years in power, did nothing to change the “culture of force,” the worst legacy of the 21-year military dictatorship to the country, nor to get the State rid of the military influence, based on verticality and the use of force to solve a conflict.
Both administrations, on the contrary, never even mentioned a possibility to punish military crimes in the years of dictatorship, as urged by several international organizations such as the OAS (Organization of American States). As a presidential candidate in 2002, Lula, a victim of imprisonment and torture by dictators, praised the military regime due to what he called “economic success,” not true at all.
The PT never moved a single inch to change the exceedingly excluding, like-mafia power relations in Brazil by the ruling classes deepened by the dictators decades ago, after then-President Joao Goulart (1961-1964) tried to reform Brazil’s economy, overthrown by a CIA-sponsored coup.
“We don’t have evidence,” said Bolsonaro last July 29, referring to his longtime accusations stating that he had pieces of evidence that previous elections had been fraudulent. That was the day he had insisted he would definitively present pieces of evidence of fraud, both in the 2014 and 2018 elections (in the latter one, according to his narrative, a fraud prevented him from beating PT’s Fernando Haddad in the first round).
On July 28, the Brazilian president has said that “the Brazilian people will react” if the country does not have “a democratic election” next year. What the Bolsonaro regime calls on are printed ballots elections, pressing both the Congress and the justice system for it.
Ever since former U.S. President Donald Trump’s followers attacked the Capitol last January, trying to obstruct the elections, several Brazilian military officers, echoing Bolsonaro, have threatened to block the 2022 presidential elections through the baseless argument that electronic voting is not safe.
Behind the scenes, in late July Defense Minister Walter Braga Netto, an army general, threatened Congress members not to permit elections to be held if not through printed ballots, according to an Estado de S. Paulo paper leak. The leak has revealed, too, that the military minister personally threatened Congressmen accompanied by military chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
Actually, the current process against Brazil’s fragile democracy started with the 2013 “Spring,” much likely influenced by the US, along with the local military who openly supported that. Such a “Spring” would play an important role in then-President Rousseff’s overthrow, three years later by shameful means, internationally recognized as totally corrupt.
In 2013 mass protests, Brazilian citizens (as witnessed especially by the Brazilian magazine Caros Amigos and the Venezuelan TV Telesur) simply could not explain what they were doing on the streets, against what and whom exactly they were protesting while the Brazilian mainstream media acted in a very similar way compared to the previous days to the 1964 coup.
Through reports, articles, and biased “surveys,” most-read Brazilian papers Folha de S. Paulo, O Estado de S. Paulo, and O Globo exalted the military and subtly compelled the local society to praise, too, the Armed Forces’ role in politics.
After President Rousseff’s overthrow, it came to light that Brazilian judges and prosecutors – such as so-called “anti-corruption” Car Wash Operation’s leader, Judge Sergio Moro – were directly trained by the U.S. according to a cable released by WikiLeaks.
Car Wash itself worked closely with the US. Actually, the White House recognized, last June, being behind “anti-corruption efforts” across Latin America. A terror movie the region knows very well, through Washington-sponsored military coups. In 2016, Sergio Moro himself had been awarded the Peacemaker Medal by the military, Brazil’s Armed Force’s most important recognition to a citizen.
A WhatsApp message hacked by the Brazilian lawyer Walter Delgatti who, in partnership with the website The Intercept, disrupted the Car Wash Operation with its hard consequences to Brazilian democracy and economy, recently revealed Prosecutor Deltan Dallagnol thanked the CIA for former President Lula da Silva’s imprisonment: “A gift from the C.I.A.,” he said.
Prosecutor Dallagnol unfairly accused former President Lula of involvement in corruption, paving the way for Bolsonaro to be elected president in 2018 through the lowest level campaign in Brazil’s history, based on an unpunished storm of fake news and street violence across the country, serious crimes minimized by the local mainstream media which was decisive, along with the Brazilian justice system, in electing Bolsonaro.
In a frightening environment across the country, in March that year, the activist for human rights and socialist councilwoman Marielle Franco was shot and killed by State forces in Rio de Janeiro. While the city was being, once again in recent history, occupied by the military allegedly to “fight organized crime,” under a strong campaign against progressive ideas and personalities based on violence.
Less than a month later, faced with the possibility of Lula being released from prison, Army General Eduardo Villas Bôas, then Army Commander, threatened Brazil’s Supreme Court – which ended up not doing justice, then, to the former Workers’ Party president. Just postponing it to November 2019
According to Chomsky, commenting on Burns’ meeting with Bolsonaro and later with ministers and senior military officials, it is likely that a conspiracy is taking place in Brazil to continue the soft coup that toppled former President Dilma Rousseff, in 2016.
“There is reason to be concerned that some kind of operation may be in the planning stage to carry forward the ‘soft coup’ of the past decade,” points out the Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona.
Since taking power, Bolsonaro is committing crimes after crimes against the rule of law and is reportedly involved in corruption, as well as with Rio de Janeiro’s extremely violent militias.
Amazingly, he has not been impeached. “Within the framework of the parliamentary system, many barriers can be imposed.” Asked if those barriers to impeach Bolsonaro are quite “artificial,” Chomsky evaluates as follows: “That can still be a ‘soft coup,’ like the impeachment of Dilma by a bunch of corrupt gangsters on fraudulent grounds.”
“Bolsonaro is already quite openly working on Trump-style discrediting of an election he doesn’t win.” Asked if he means that the Brazilian president is aware he will not be re-elected, Chomsky answers: “He expects that he will lose the election.”
Chomsky: Lula at Risk of Being Murdered
Chomsky predicts a plot to murder former President Lula da Silva, summarizing the Brazilian scenario that may lead to it, as follows:
“For a decade a ‘soft coup’ has been underway to reinforce the rule of private wealth and power. The program could have been disrupted if Lula had been allowed to run in 2018. That threat was handled by dispatching him to prison on flimsy charges, as now recognized, and barring him from saying a public word during the campaign.
“Polls indicate that he would likely win if permitted to run next year.
“There is, regrettably, a considerable reason to fear that more extreme measures may be taken this time to ensure the perpetuation of the disaster that has unfolded for Brazil under Bolsonaro’s guiding hand, and with the destruction of the Amazon, for the world.”
Asked if by more extreme measures Chomsky is referring to a murder, the most renowned analyst of our generation, well known for being sober and “prophetic,” answers:
“More extreme measures might include killing him. Not excluded.”
Renowned economist Ladislau Dowbor, author of innumerable books in several languages, and columnist for Brasil 247 website states, in a particular conversation with this author, especially for Weekly Blitz, that the need to secure Lula’s life is really being widely discussed in Brazil.
“They’ve already arrested Lula, they’ve already dealt a coup against Dilma Rousseff, there are powerful militias…,” Dowbor points out, agreeing with Chomsky’s warning. “The danger exists, is real.”
‘Military Coup Not Out of the Question’: Chomsky
Bolsonaro publicly said last March, “it’s easy to achieve a military coup in Brazil.” In a meeting with his ministers in 2020, he stated the same, leaked by the local press.
He and the military have been threatening the rule of law in countless ways, including calling on Article 142 of the Brazilian Constitution, known as “Law and Order Guarantee,” threatening with a military coup.
“We want to enforce Article 142 of the Constitution. Everyone wants to enforce Article 142 of the Constitution. And, if necessary, any of the [federal] powers can, right? Ask the Armed Forces to intervene [militry coup] in order to restore order in Brazil,” said recently Bolsonaro, just repeating an old saying of his.
Article 142 is a “gap” in the Brazilian Constitution, a dangerous passage in a society that historically sees the armed forces not as subordinated to civilian power, but as State guardians.
Asked about Burns’ visit to Bolsonaro, taking into account the Brazilian context, Noam Chomsky considers, too, that Bolsonaro and the military may be advancing more than a “soft coup”: “A military coup does not seem out of the question”.
In the face of any adversity, Bolsonaro reacts increasingly fiercely against democracy, with total impunity.
His followers are no longer his nearly 58 million voters in the runoff 2018 elections, far from it. But they are violent enough to defeat their opponents. Strongly empowered by the president’s obscure, ruthless environment.
If in the United States, a violent coup attempt by Trump and his followers could be prevented, it was due to relatively strong democratic institutions in America. Far from being the case of Brazil now.
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