Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia … Latin America is experiencing a succession of social revolts that threaten to spread throughout the continent. In the middle of this fire Brazil is still impassive, without showing signs of being allowed to be infected by the tumults. However, the ingredients –inequality and anger towards elites-, they are there, waiting for a spark that ignites the fire.
When you get out of jail, Lula da Silva He appealed to the population: "We have to follow the example of Chile or Bolivia". The reaction by the Government of Jair Bolsonaro It was not long in coming and it was clear: it classified the acts of "terrorist acts" and threatened firm hand If Brazilians go out.
The far-right leader, a confessed admirer of the Brazilian military dictatorship, has already requested authorization in Congress to use the military in case there is a need to stop violent acts on the street. His son and his economy minister have gone further and flirted publicly with the idea that he had to dissolve Congress and silence the press yes, in the words of Eduardo Bolsonaro, son of the president and deputy in Congress, "the left is radicalized."
Eduardo Bolsonaro brought to light even the Institutional Act 5 (AI-5), a decree of the military dictatorship of 1968, which shortened the freedoms of political and press thinking and led to the institutionalization of torture and censorship. With him a white letter was given to the repression, several political parties were banned and opposition parliamentarians ceased, giving rise to the most terrible period of the regime.
In Brazil, talking about AI-5 are major words. Even for the children of President Bolsonaro, who have already accustomed the population to their statements out of tune. "The time will come when the situation will be the same as in 1960. The left is an internal enemy, difficult to identify, within the country itself. I hope we do not reach that point, but if the left is radicalized we will have to answer. And that answer can be via a new AI-5"said Eduardo Bolsonaro.
The statements were strongly criticized in Parliament but, days later, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, the ghost of the dictatorship woke up again. "When the other side wins, only 10 months later the left is already appealing to the people to go out to break everything"he said in reference to Lula's statements." That is an idiocy, an imbecility, not up to our democratic institutions. Then Don't panic if someone asks for the AI-5. Or has it not happened before? "
Without being so resounding in his words, Bolsonaro is sending messages to the population: "A protest is one thing … vandalism, terrorism are totally different things. If you burn buses, if you kill innocent people, if you burn banks, invade ministries … that is not a protest, "he said.
In 2013, Brazil experienced its particular moment of revolt, which Bolsonaro knows well. The mass demonstrations began then by the increase in the price of transport and would end up giving rise to impeachment from Dilma Rousseff.
In the middle of the social earthquake, the Brazil Free Movement appeared, an ultra-liberal group that led the protests against the president. The demonstrations of the time were the first clearly right since the end of the military dictatorship and a perfect breeding ground for Bolsonaro to appear, in 2017, formalizing his candidacy for the presidency of Brazil. Now, the president seems to fear that protests may arise on the left.
Although, for now, Brazil remains calm, social protests in the rest of Latin America have made rethink the liberal economic agenda of his Government. Paulo Guedes, formed by the liberal school of Chicago, and who worked in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, has repeatedly praised the Chilean economy, which he uses as a reference.
Chilean demonstrations against inequality and inadequacy of public services have raised blisters in Brazil, questioning the viability of the measures that Guedes wants to implement, such as the rise in transport and diesel.
Unemployment remains very high and the number of Brazilians living in extreme poverty has risen to 13.5 million. Many analysts suggest that the measures will materialize on vacations from December to February, when universities will be empty and students will have a harder time organizing.
Bolsonaro's tendency to demonize your opponents and his little left hand when it comes to handling conflicts, they fear the possible reaction of the Government in case of social tensions. For now, the Latin American giant remains asleep.