Brazil’s Bolsonaro celebrates 1960s military dictatorship

This 2016 video says about itself:

Hours: Enduring Torture in Brazil (Documentary)

In 1970, Marcos Arruda was arrested, tortured, and then exiled from Brazil due to his involvement in an underground resistance organization during the military dictatorship (1964-1985). The film tells his story and examines the impacts of state-sponsored torture, political impunity, and police violence.

By Miguel Andrade in Brazil:

Emboldened by Trump, Brazil’s Bolsonaro orders military to celebrate 1964 coup

29 March 2019

On Monday, presidential spokesman Gen. Otávio Barros announced to the press the unprecedented decision taken by Brazil’s fascistic President Jair Bolsonaro to order military institutions to prepare “due celebrations” of the anniversary of the 1964 US-backed military coup that brought down the bourgeois-nationalist government of President João Goulart.

The coup inaugurated a blood-soaked regime that would last until 1985 and that would prove instrumental in the installation of three other genocidal military regimes in the following years, in Chile and Uruguay in 1973 and Argentina in 1976, that murdered, tortured and persecuted millions of South Americans.

Bolsonaro has insisted that the military regime was not a dictatorship and that its seizure of power in 1964 was not a coup. He has defended torture and insisted that the solution to Brazil’s problems is to “do the job that the military regime didn’t do: killing 30,000.”

Bolsonaro’s order is yet another milestone in the protracted and sharp turn to the right taken by the Brazilian political regime since the re-election of Workers Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff in 2014. Although such celebrations have been held furtively in the country’s military institutions, especially military schools and academies and retired officers’ clubs, it is the first time an elected president orders such ceremonies and publicly defends the former dictatorship.

Bolsonaro’s pro-imperialist tour was met with a fierce factional attack led by the country’s oldest daily, O Estado de S. Paulo, a traditional mouthpiece for the military, which published no less than five editorials, during and after both trips It set the tone for the other three major papers, Folha de S. Paulo, Valor Econômico and O Globo, denouncing Bolsonaro’s alignment with Trump as counter to Brazilian economic interests. This culminated with a piece in the March 21 edition of O Estado, headlined “Diplomatic victory, yes, but for Trump.” The editorial charged that the trip was useless at best, and that Bolsonaro had “approached a president, not a country”, given that “even in the Republican Party, Trump’s values face resistance.” It went on to cite approvingly the fact that “China has resisted US demands.”

Highlighting the sharp turn towards US imperialism sponsored by Bolsonaro and his military and corporate backers, the tour had plenty of ominous references to the crimes committed by US imperialism and its “nationalist” military collaborators in Latin America. This included Bolsonaro’s unannounced visit to the headquarters of the CIA, which played a key role in orchestrating the 1964 coup, and a radio commentary by Bolsonaro’s chief-of-staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, one day before the Chile visit, in which he declared that Pinochet’s “bloodbath was necessary”.

Significantly, after his visit to Washington, Bolsonaro went to Chile to participate in the founding of a new pro-imperialist union of South American nations, the PROSUL, which was created to bury the initiative of the former “pink tide” governments in founding the now-defunct UNASUL in 2008. As a lifelong apologist for the Pinochet regime, he was met with popular protests, but embraced by the right-wing government of President Sebastian Piñera. Bolsonaro’s far-right politics are an essential component of the new PROSUL.

The celebration and vindication of torture and murder were the least of Estado de S. Paulo’s concerns, as its editorial on the Chile trip demonstrated. “Everybody knows Bolsonaro’s position on these issues”, an editorial titled “Looking for a President” said, “but as Brazil’s representative, he should keep these opinions on dictators and dictatorships in neighboring nations to himself, as they naturally cause discomfort.” It later concluded: “Worried about the petty concerns of his base, Mr. Jair Bolsonaro appears to have given up a government for all.”

Coming from a paper that is up to its neck in the red-baiting and coup-mongering against the Venezuelan government, which was supportive of the Brazilian dictatorship, which regularly features military commanders in its opinion pages and which has directed its fire at Bolsonaro for sidelining the career generals in his government in favor of his family circle, these lines were a shot across the bow. The factional warfare that has gripped the Brazilian bourgeoisie since the beginning of Rousseff’s second term in 2015 is escalating.

Not coincidentally, Bolsonaro’s vice president, Gen. Hamilton Mourão, met with 600 businessmen at a dinner last Tuesday, in what was obscenely dubbed the “trillion reais dinner”—a reference to the total worth of the participants, US$250 billion. Next week, Mourão himself will travel to the US and meet businessmen at Harvard’s “Brazil Conference.”

The conflicts unfolding around Bolsonaro’s alignment with Washington are profound. They have dominated Brazilian political life since the end of the commodity boom and the launching of the US “pivot to Latin America”. These developments narrowed the possibilities of relative independence from US imperialism that existed during the “pink tide”, and curtailed the capacity to use export profits to finance minimum poverty relief programs. These factors made Brazil more susceptible to the gravitational pull of US imperialism over Latin America, which, acting with the strength of a natural law, draws an economically decelerating Brazil closer into its orbit.

A new international alignment thus became a central issue for the ruling class in the last elections, along with a massive restructuring of class relations, embodied in the so-called “pension reform”. The pro-US shift was based on calculations above all regarding Brazilian interests in the face of “great power conflicts”—i.e., between the US and China and Russia—which have become the central focus of US foreign policy.

However, both immediate and long-term problems highlighted by the US visit are related to the decline of US imperialism and the trade war imposed on China by Washington, which may cut deeply into Brazilian exports to and investments from China without any tangible compensation from the US. Valor Econômico’s Assis Moreira clearly outlined the most immediate worries: if the US is able to impose the end of its trade deficit with China, “US exports would jump from $600 billion in 2024 compared to $155 billion in 2018. This would cut into Brazilian exports by 10 to 20 percent.”

With rising rivalries across the globe and the gangster tactics of Trump, no one should take his promise to support Brazil’s membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as good coin, or, even if he kept the promise, that it would offer any way out of Brazil’s protracted economic slump.

Such distrust animates Bolsonaro’s bourgeois opponents. Moreover, factions of the ruling class are worried that the openly pro-US alignment and its accompanying fascistic rhetoric may stir popular opposition and derail the vote on the “pension reform”. Such calculations were exposed in a Financial Times article of March 8, titled “Will Bolsonaro’s ‘cultural wars’ derail the reforms?” What the Financial Times euphemistically calls “cultural wars” are Bolsonaro’s litany of “god, family and nation” which have provoked widespread revulsion in Brazil and are exposing before broad layers of the population the rot of his government and the political system which produced it.

To the extent that the military criticizes what has been dismissively dubbed the “ideological wing” of the government that dominated during the US trip, it is not out of any sympathy for democracy or independence from imperialism, but rather an awareness of the extremely limited support these ideas enjoy within the population.

To oppose the “crazy ideologues” with calls for increased powers to the “reasonable” military will not change the sharp dangers confronting the working class one iota. Such a campaign is a treacherous cover-up of the deep crisis that produced Bolsonaro, and must be relentlessly denounced.

The author also recommends:

Brazil marks 50 years since US-backed coup
[2 April 2014]

10 thoughts on “Brazil’s Bolsonaro celebrates 1960s military dictatorship

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  8. 50 years ago: Emílio Garrastazu Médici becomes president of Brazilian military dictatorship

    On October 30, 1969, General Emílio Garrastazu Médici was sworn in as the new president of Brazil. The military president was the replacement for the military junta which had assumed direct rule at the end of August in order to prevent Brazil’s vice president, a civilian, from assuming the office of the presidency after the previous military dictator, President Arthur da Costa e Silva, became deathly ill.

    With Médici’s rise to the country’s highest office came nearly 60 amendments to the Brazilian constitution that transferred virtually all power to the presidency.

    The Brazilian military, backed by the Lyndon Johnson administration in the United States, first assumed rule of Brazil after a coup in 1964 overthrew the democratically elected civilian government. Since that time, the country was ruled by a series of dictators chosen from the top ranks of the military.

    Médici was arguably one of the most ruthless of these military rulers. Under his regime, often referred to as the “years of lead,” strict press censorship was put in place, political opponents were arrested and tortured, and the death penalty was administered to those convicted of “subversion against the government.”

    The worst violence was leveled against the various guerrilla movements that had formed since 1964 in opposition to the dictatorship. These movements included organizations like Ação Libertadora Nacional and Revolutionary Movement 8th October. The members of these organizations consisted generally of Stalinists and Maoists who broke with the Communist Party of Brazil after the party did not take up an armed struggle against the military regime. By the end of Médici’s presidency in 1974, virtually all of these guerrillas had been arrested or killed, bringing an end to the Araguaia Guerrilla War. Officially, many of the belligerents targeted by the dictatorship are still considered “missing.”

    Inequality soared under Médici. While his presidency oversaw the “Brazilian Miracle,” the largest economic growth in the country’s history with annual GDP growth of around 10 percent, virtually all of the increased wealth accrued to the bourgeoisie and the upper-middle classes. Meanwhile, inflation soared, effectively cutting the purchasing power of the average worker in half.

    Médici maintained close ties to the Nixon administration and proved to be a useful tool to U.S. imperialism. In 2008, after formerly classified U.S. State Department documents were made public it was revealed that Médici had collaborated with and assisted the U.S.-backed 1973 coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende.


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