by Leonardo Boff
Eco-Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission
Never in our history have we been faced with such radical alternatives: the ex-Captain, candidate for President, Jair Bolsonaro, who has all the characteristics of Nazi-Fascism, that caused millions of victims in Europe during the Second World War, and Fernando Haddad, whose Democratic spirit cannot be denied. Bolsonaro himself declared that he does not mind being compared to Hitler. He would, however, be offended if he were called gay.
Bolsonaro committed many barbarities against women, Blacks, Indigenous peoples, the quilombolas, the LGBT, including openly defending notorious torturers. In declarations, he clearly stated without scruples that he expects to impose repressive policies against all those groups, as State policy. It is not surprising that he has the highest rejection rate in surveys of expected voters.
But we understand his broad resonance, because more than a few want social order at all costs, and reject all politicians, due to the corruption that corrodes this country. Seeking order without concern for social justice or proper juridical procedures was what nourished, and still nourishes today, the groups of the right and of the ultra-right. So it was with Hitler: “Ordnung muss sein”: “order must reign”. But it was an order imposed through repression, and by sending Jews, gypsies and the opposition to death camps.
Bolsonaro exploits this search for order at all costs, even by militarizing the government, as has already been published in the press. If heaven forbid, he wins, he will staff key ministries mostly with retired generals with openly rightist and authoritarian mentality. He even proposes an eventual self-initiated coup, that is, Bolsonaro as President could call the armed forces, dissolve Parliament and install an authoritarian and highly repressive regime.
We have no alternative but for everyone to get together, above partisan interests, to save democracy and not let Brazil be known around the world as a political pariah. This would affect much of Latin American politics, especially in the countries whose democracies are fragile and are under fire from the rightist thinking that is growing around the world.
It is not unexpected that the social base that would sustain such an authoritarian regime of Fascist-Nazi tendencies would be composed of the financial conglomerates that live off speculation, associated with businessmen who care less for the future of the motherland, but only for their own businesses, and are associated with the bureaucrats who accept corruption and shady businesses.
This would be an unusual break with our history that has never before occurred. At least the military men and entrepreneurs who staged the 1964 coup were nationalists, although they fostered economic growth at the expense of lowered salaries and rigorous control over the opposition, through arrests, abductions, tortures, and murder, which is now confirmed by documents from the security and foreign affairs organs of the United States.
The Brazilian people, who have already suffered so much throughout history, first under the slave masters’ whips, and then the super-exploitation of national capitalism, do not deserve to suffer even more now. We are indebted to the people, in a way that we have not yet been able to repay. And we will be charged for that debt at the time of final judgment.
We nourish the hope that the good sense and willingness to affirm democracy of the majority of voting citizens will free us from this true punishment that, in fact, we do not deserve.