“I identify them all. And they are, many of them, the same ones that since 1930, like bustling vivants, come to the bivouacs to mess with the grenadiers and provoke extravagances of military power.”
Who said this was Marshal Humberto Castello Branco, in August 1964, in the auditorium of the School of Command and General Staff of the Army. He complained about the civilians who started to attack his government, but who, before, prowled the barracks asking for military help for their political extravagances.
The vivariums mentioned by Castelo are thethose women who followed the troops on the march to trade or take supplies that the soldiers needed. In the sexist ideology, part of them would be prostitutes “messing around with the grenadiers”.
The marshal’s jocular statement clearly marked the military’s contempt for civilians who had called them so much throughout Brazil’s history to give armed support to the antics of politicians.
The strategists of the 1964 military coup — including General Golbery do Couto e Silva — used the following argument to convince colleagues to join the movement: stop acting to support this or that politician, because the time has come for the military themselves assume power.
Since then, the vivandieiras of the barracks lost expression in Brazilian politics. And the military, in turn, has worn itself out with its 20 years of authoritarian rule. Punished for having put body and soul into politics.
But then time passes and the captain of the military reserve Jair Bolsonaro is elected president of the Republic, removed from the Army and classified as “a bad soldier” by former president and general Ernesto Geisel.
Forced to leave the barracks, Bolsonaro became a politician. It ended up embodying some of the bad habits on both sides. The worst of them is now revealing itself: the strategy of the old pre-Castleo Branco civilian politicians of summoning the military and intervening in politics.
Bolsonaro has become one of those vivandiers singled out by the marshal, who bullies the grenadiers to make the military commit political extravagances.
We all thought that the high-ranking military, after the 1964 lesson, were vaccinated against the calls from the vivandiers to politics.
Maybe they even were. But they do not seem to resist the seduction of a commissioned position, the increase in pay and the possibility of breaking the salary cap.
Bolsonaro seems to bring out the worst in the troops, when we see a general-minister of Defense agreeing to be a candidate for vice president, as is the case with General Braga Netto. And, what is worse, his successor and general, Paulo Cesar Nogueira, lends himself to messing with the Superior Electoral Court to question the reliability of the elections.
The president of the TSE, Edson Fachin, responded in the exact tone to the questions raised by the general, showing him how inappropriate they are. Hopefully it has served as a final stop.