A coup d’etat is underway in Brazil even as the Italian media remain entirely silent.
In an operation coordinated from the federal capital, Brasilia, just before dawn on May 27, Military Police teams armed with machine guns raided the homes of dozens of journalists, publicists, activists and politicians in different cities. While presenting clearly irregular arrest warrants, which indicated no reason for the intervention, the police seized computers, mobile phones, cameras, digital and paper archives. The accused were forcibly taken to military prisons for interrogation.
No, dear reader, this is not a coup by President Jair Bolsonaro to silence the opposition. If that were the case, I am sure that the Italian media would have broken the news on the front page, screaming at the top of their lungs against the coup, displaying depreciative pictures of the hated head of state. The exact opposite is true: those who ended up in prison are conservative and anticommunist citizens, mostly supporters of President Bolsonaro. Thus, much of the conservative media and political structure in Brazil was wiped out in one fell swoop.
We need to keep in mind that Bolsonaro is just the tip of the iceberg of a vast public opinion phenomenon that takes place in every social circle throughout Brazil. This phenomenon is visible to the naked eye. Center-right bloggers and YouTubers, mostly very young, some with millions of followers, are multiplying. New political and cultural groups of conservative orientation are emerging. Online lectures of traditionalist orientation are becoming famous. After decades of a virtual cultural monopoly of the left, more and more books are published, and more and more conferences are held in the center-right camp. Analysts speak of a “conservative wave.”
For the left, and specifically for the Marxist-oriented Workers’ Party (PT), removed from power in the last elections after thirteen years of unchallenged domination, this situation is intolerable. It, therefore, decided to counterattack using the judiciary, which is largely controlled by the petistas themselves.
After a first moment of bewilderment at the massive military intervention of May 27 – which made some recall the military coup of 1964 – it turned out that the order came from Judge Alexandre de Moraes, of the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF, i.e. the Supreme Court), as part of an investigation of so-called fake news.
The investigation started in April 2019, when Crusoé magazine and O Antagonista website published documents linking the petista politician José Antonio Dias Toffoli to the Odebrecht scandal. Unable to answer the accusations on their merits, Toffoli turned to his fellow magistrates. Upon his request, Judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the two newspapers to recant the story, imposing a fine of one hundred thousand reals (sixteen thousand euros) per day if they failed to do so.
This censorship of press freedom sparked indignant reactions from of all media-related organizations, ranging from the Associação Nacional de Jornais to the Associação Nacional de Editores de Revistas, to the Associação Brasileira de Imprensa. Even the Associação dos Juízes Federais do Brasil repudiated the decision of their colleague de Moraes, calling it “inadmissible.” It clearly was an undemocratic move. De Moraes was forced to withdraw the injunction.
The left took the hit but did not give up. With the support of the opposition, in September 2019, they established a Joint Parliamentary Commission on fake news, charged with “investigating the spread of false news and misinformation, and the incitation of criminal practices in political campaigns.” Essentially, any news unfavorable to the left is likely to be classified as fake news. Any call to reject Marxist ideology is likely to be called an ‘incitement to criminal practices.’ Any criticism of the left from the conservative camp can be considered an act of “hatred.” They even coined the expression “Cabinet of Hatred,” to indicate an imaginary central command financed by who knows whom, allegedly responsible for spreading news and opinions contrary to the left. They also coined the expression “digital militias” to designate center-right bloggers as if they were paramilitary vigilantes. The Joint Parliamentary Commission (Senate and House) is led by Senator Ângelo Coronel and Congresswoman Lídice de Mata, both with the Socialist Party.
The Commission has focused mainly on Internet use, noting how new technologies allow it to bypass traditional means of communication. Today, anyone can become an influential commentator. All he needs is a good brain, a computer, and communication skills. This development has favored conservatives, who thus managed to get their ideas across to millions of Brazilians. Some conservative and anticommunist bloggers and YouTubers have two and even three million followers. The left, which, following Gramsci’s advice, makes the control of the press a central point of its strategy, found itself displaced.
In April 2020, the Commission’s mandate was extended for another six months.
The work of the Joint Commission has served as a pretext and vehicle for a powerful propaganda campaign against the center-right, and specifically against President Bolsonaro. The president of the Workers’ Party (PT), Gleisi Hoffmann, admitted straight out: “The evidence gathered by the Supreme Federal Tribunal serves as a basis for the actions taken by the PT against President Bolsonaro. Brazil needs new political elections.”
The Joint Parliamentary Commission plus Supreme Federal Tribunal tandem has proven successful. Gradually, the work of the Commission, supported by Judge de Moraes, has turned into a “hunt for fascists,” meaning anyone who does not profess the socialist ideology. “The Judiciary Branch cannot remain indifferent to the innumerable and very serious offenses,” says de Moraes. “It is important to identify who organizes, who dialogues with these criminals. Brazil is not fascist.”
More recently, the Commission has also started training its cannons on prolife and anti-LGBT associations. In mid-May, for example, again by order of the judge de Moraes, the well-known anti-feminist activist Sara Winter was imprisoned and is now in house arrest, forced to wear an ankle bracelet.
So we come to the great show of force of last May 27, when Military Police teams raided the homes of dozens of conservative journalists, commentators and politicians. Even Congressman Luiz Philippe d’Orléans and Braganza, a member of the Imperial Family, was searched. According to Congresswoman Lídice de Mata, “Today’s operation, conducted by the Military Police in accordance with orders for searches and seizures issued by the STF, continues and demonstrates the Commission’s line of investigation.” On June 16, the scene was repeated with as many searches, always at dawn, and with a great display of military force. The intention, not even veiled, is to terrorize conservatives.
All this configures an extremely dangerous situation for freedom of opinion and of the press in Brazil, and deep down, a very serious danger for democracy: in fact, it is a coup d’état, and not a “light” one at that. It is clear to everyone that the left, having lost the elections and facing growing difficulty with an increasingly conservative public opinion, has decided to use its “nuclear option”: the Judiciary Branch supported by the Military Police, which are bound to execute court orders.
This totalitarian drift of the Brazilian left is very worrisome also because it coincides with similar developments in other countries. Here in Italy, you have the Zan-Scalfarotto bill, recently introduced at Montecitorio “to counter homophobia and transphobia.” This is a totalitarian and liberticidal bill befitting a most ominous dictatorship. If approved, a priest who reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church from the pulpit on the subject of the sixth commandment (n° 2331ff) would risk six years in prison, plus the suspension of his identity card, driving license and passport, not to mention being subject to a curfew and the loss of political rights for three years.
Apparently, faced with the conservative wave visible both in Europe and Brazil, the left is abandoning its easy-going, dialoguing and permissive discourse, and showing its totalitarian and tyrannical face, which has always stood behind its smiling mask.
If, on the one hand, this is a serious cause for concern, on the other hand, I think it is also very heartening. Nobody uses brute force as his first argument. It is much better to win by convincing people. Paradoxically, the use of force is a sign of weakness. It means that the narrative of the left is showing signs of exhaustion. It fails to convince public opinion as it once did. More and more people are getting off the train of the Revolution. Some are even starting to move in the opposite direction.
The hegemony of the Revolution is broken, a fact which is highly encouraging. It is up to us to know how to interpret reactions and direct them on the path of the great spiritual conversion that Our Lady called for at Fatima, which will lead to the triumph of Her Immaculate Heart.
Translated by the staff of Fatima Today.
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