The Brazilian Left, like the Left anywhere else in the world, never lets a good crisis go to waste. According to this report by José Atento, the ramped-up push to damage President Jair Bolsonaro during the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis is similar to what is being attempted against Donald Trump in the USA.
Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil in November of 2018 because for most Brazilians he personified the opposition to many of the issues plaguing Brazil and Brazilians. First, the rampant corruption, notably from the leadership of the Labour Party (herein referred to as PT), which ruled Brazil for sixteen years. Secondly, the precarious situation of the Brazilian economy. PT squandered the economy. When PT rose to power in early 2000s, Brazil was a leading member of the BRICS. When PT left power, Brazil was basically bankrupt. Socialists are good at squandering economies.
Bolsonaro is anti-establishment, and in Brazil the establishment is predominantly of the Left. Bolsonaro spoke the language of the people, who are mostly nationalistic and Christian, disagree with gender ideology, are against abortion, and oppose big government, i.e., are against the flags of the Left.
Bolsonaro is also anti-Socialist and against the South American Socialist alliance known as São Paulo Forum, which has the participation of former and current leaders such as Lula (Brazil), Chavez/Maduro (Venezuela), Morales (Bolivia) and Cristina Kirchner (Argentina).
Bolsonaro showed his independence when he selected his ministers based on competence, not on political arrangements. Among his ministers two would represent the fight against corruption and for economic recovery. Sergio Moro (Justice Minister), the judge who led the Operation Car Wash, which put into jail powerful politicians and entrepreneurs, including former president Lula. And, Paulo Guedes (Finance Minister), a renowned economist from the Chicago School, with the intention of developing the economy towards free market.
By building a team of technical ministers, Bolsonaro angered a large group of politicians (from several parties) known as Centrão, which means roughly, Big Center. This group is not really in the center of the political spectrum, but they are known by their appetite for bargaining with the government, approving projects proposed by the government in the exchange for electoral gains. They did that during the PT government, and, as a consequence, several members of the Centrão are accused of corruption but, as members of parliament, they have “parliamentary immunity.” Both houses of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, are controlled by the Centrão. Unable to sell its support, the Centrão suffers from something similar to what a drug addict in withdrawal experiences.
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Dep. Rodrigo Maia, has been slowly undermining the government by delaying the consideration of projects and decrees signed by Bolsonaro to the point of letting them expire. Similar action has been undertaken by the president of the Senate, Sen. Davi Alcolumbre. Both are from the Centrão.
Other sources of opposition are the left-leaning media (such as Folha de São Paulo and the all-powerful Globo TV) and the Supreme Court (STF), whose judges were nominated by socialist governments. The current president of the Supreme Court, Dias Tófolli, is a former PT lawyer. It is important to add that the governors of the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, both targeting the 2022 presidential elections, would love to see Bolsonaro’s chances for re-election decrease.
Bolsonaro is also the target of relentless attacks by the international media. His anti-socialist stance puts him at odds with the likes of The Guardian, El Pais, the BBC, CBC, ABC, CNN, and other left-leaning globalist media powerhouses, who waste no time before throwing mud at him.
As we can see, Bolsonaro and his government has opposition from different, even antagonist, groups for different reasons. A real Incredible Army of Brancaleone. Nonetheless, these groups have joined forces, and requests for impeachment have started to pile up in Congress and at the Supreme Court.
With all that opposition and the relentless attacks from the media, Bolsonaro continues to enjoy huge popular backing. Rally after rally has taken to the streets of Brazil showing support. And with all that popular support, nobody dares to touch Bolsonaro.
Then, came the COVID-19 crisis. It fell like a gift to Bolsonaro’s opposition, and a chance to keep the population locked in their homes without possibility of rallies in favour of Bolsonaro. With the media diverting attention to the virus, the opposition moved impeachment procedures against Bolsonaro. There was also an attempt to destroy Bolsonaro’s popularity as he was against a total lockdown, claiming that it would increase poverty, and he defended a vertical lockdown, namely, only for the elderly and those with medical conditions, like what Sweden did. To the despair of the opposition, the COVID-19 epidemic is not as bad in Brazil, and the people are revolting against the state governors for the imposition of the lockdown, including the arrest of women and children for going outside their homes.
In other words, it backfired.
But the effort to overthrow Bolsonaro continues. The latest episode in the saga is the resignation of Justice Minister Sergio Moro after disagreements with Bolsonaro. Moro is a symbol of Bolsonaro’s fight against corruption and his resignation is a dent in Bolsonaro’s popularity since Moro is also very popular. But in a statement following his resignation, Moro made serious accusations against Bolsonaro, and calls for “Moro 2022” began to be seen on social media. In other words, Moro became just another potential candidate for the 2022 presidential elections, along with the governors of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
In spite of all unholy alliances against Bolsonaro and the noise created by the COVID-19, his strong popular support remains, and, as long as it remains strong, Bolsonaro can not just resist the attacks from the left-leaning establishment but also keep on counterattacking, thereby weakening it.
José Atento is a Brazilian blogger. He can be reached at Lei Islâmica em Ação.