* Raphael Tsavkko Garcia
Increasingly, the denunciation of the Pocketnist authoritarianism loses meaning and force. Not because it is not a worrying factor and a threat to Brazilian democracy, but only because its main adversary, former president Lula, is not exactly an example of coherent defense of democracy and human rights.
How to sustain a vigorous opposition to the Pocketnarist barbarism without giving voice to hypocrisy? In the wake of political science, Lula returned to the charge, comparing Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s dictator, with German premier Angela Merkel: “Why can Merkel stay in power for 16 years and Ortega can’t?” He asked.
How to report Bolsonaro’s visits to dictatorial countries or the president’s not at all disguised sympathy for dictatorships when, after forged elections in Nicaragua — in which opponents were arrested and international observers prevented from participating — the Workers’ Party officially praises the “electoral process” and salute the winner, the prototype of dictator Daniel Ortega?
Human rights are far from being the main agenda of the Brazilian voter, but when it comes to impeachment and prosecutions against Bolsonaro for crimes against humanity and genocide, it is difficult — not to say impossible — to forget that the PT, its main antagonist, does not have a standard in human rights either. At least not beyond the speech.
Are these guidelines only important when lines are crossed by opponents? How to accuse Bolsonaro of genocide or crimes against humanity — and, in fact, Bolsonaro committed such crimes — by the way he handled the pandemic when one applauds Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela’s dictator, who defended “alternative remedies” as a way to win covid-19?
How is it possible to condemn Bolsonaro for anti-democratic speeches when PT leaders and prominent figures defend open repression against pro-democracy demonstrators in Cuba?
If Bolsonaro’s conflicts with China definitely symbolize his amateurism in foreign policy, at the same time, the compliments from former President Dilma to China, in her words, a “light against Western decay”, are equally reprehensible.
Under the excuse of “self-determination of the peoples”, of “sovereignty”, of “anti-imperialism”, we see open defenses of bloodthirsty dictatorships. Even Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists were accused of “fascism” given the childish imperative of automatic alignment with China.
As much as, I repeat, human rights are not exactly the most important agenda for the Brazilian voter, the hypocritical speech is noticed and felt. We don’t need to go abroad to collect examples of how, in power, the left has flirted with human rights abuses. Belo Monte, attacks on indigenous people and military occupation of favelas are some of them.
Yes, it’s true that Bolsonaro still has a (much) more problematic track record, but that doesn’t excuse past misdeeds, it just reinforces the need for an opposition for which human rights go beyond rhetoric.
None of this means, I reiterate, that Bolsonaro is not, on balance, the worst of all worlds. But the fact is that the laxity and hypocrisy of the left – particularly of the PT – ends up strengthening the president in the dialogue with voters or potential voters.
Bolsonaro never hides his contempt for human rights, his authoritarianism, his coup fantasies. He can be accused of many things, but, unlike the PT, not hypocrisy in the field of values. Even after three years in power (and decades in the Chamber of Deputies), Bolsonaro continues to position himself as an outsider, “against traditional politics”, and the persistence of this discourse is due, in part, to the contradictions of the opposition.
Above all, the fact that today’s two main political leaders in Brazil openly defend dictatorships and authoritarian regimes says a lot about Brazilian politics and the inability of right and left to reinvent and effectively defend social values, citizenship and rights Humans without half words or commas.
* Raphael Tsavkko Garcia he is a journalist and a doctor in human rights from the University of Deusto. Contributed to vehicles such as Foreign Policy, Undark, The Washington Post, Deutsche Welle, among others.