Brazil's 'Capitol Hill riots’: Confront the fascists, without truce or amnesty

Brazil protests

The events of January 8 mimic those of the US neo-fascist horde two years earlier, with almost the same script. The invasion by thousands of Bolsonarists of the premises of the National Congress, the Federal Supreme Court (STF), and the Planalto Palace, broadcast live on national TV network, are of the utmost gravity. They crown a coup plan that, under the allegation of fraud at the polls, promoted disorder, violence and vandalism.

Brazil had episodes of violence in Brasilia back in December, when Lula’s diplomacy - following the arrest of Bolsonarists with explosives frustrated an alleged planned attack; the protest camps in front of military barracks followed – in Brasilia the camp was not repressed; and as announced, the culminating act was the “assault” on the Three Powers, which after three hours, was reversed, resulting in about 300 people being detained in the act. The mob left a trail of destruction, damaging works of art and destroying rooms and enclosures, the typical actions of lumpens; as Karl Marx defined them, marginalised, declassed sectors that serve as “cannon fodder” for the reactionary elites.

The leniency on the part of the Federal District government was evident, not only because of the appointment of the coup-plotter Anderson Torres as head of Security, but also because of how it all unfolded. The Ibaneis Rocha (Brazilian Democratic Movement, MDB) government is guilty of an act of omission in regards to repressing the “crazed” Bolsonarist march, which was announced to everyone, with a hundred buses arriving in Brasilia.

Taking control of the situation, Lula correctly took measures such as a federal intervention into the Federal District, and spoke on national TV to denounce the coup plotters, calling them “fanatical fascists” and blaming Bolsonaro, whom he referred to as guilt of “genocide”, for the incidents. Lula’s actions came at the right moment, as Minister of Justice Flávio Dino was slow to take measures, despite the actions of the coup plotters being announced “in the open”. Besides this, the inertia of José Múcio, as head of the Ministry of Defence, was obvious, as during the week he had called the gatherings in front of the military headquarters “legitimate”, stating that he had relatives and friends inside the camps – something that is inadmissible in the fight against the extreme right.

The need for a tougher speech, like the one Lula gave, expresses the fact that there is no way that the fight against the coup plotters can be waged by ceding ground to them and their supporters, inside and outside the Armed Forces. Mucio adopted a line of conciliation with the radical Bolsonarists. This line failed completely. And to the extent that the Secretary of Communication’s own minister, Paulo Pimenta, stated that it is likely that those responsible for security at the Planalto and the Congress cooperated with the protests, Múcio’s continuance in the post has become untenable.

It should be noted that the Armed Forces has also come out of this weakened in the eyes of the people, as they has show themselves to be incapable of defending the interests of the country. This only makes us more conscious of the need to carry out politics among the low and middle ranks of the different security forces in the country. Moraes had more courage and was right to remove Governor Ibaneis Rocha for 90 days.

The international community united to condemn Bolsonarism and the coup plotters. The main countries of the world, including right-wing governments, publicly communicated their repudiation of the coup plotters. Different civil society entities and associations promptly came out to express their condemnation of what had happened.

The need to take to the streets was answered with a call for protests on January 9 in all capital cities in the country. We need to swell the ranks of these events, broadening out and convincing people to take to the streets in a popular statement of rejection to pro-coup attitudes, and in defence of the results obtained at the ballot boxes and the legitimacy of Lula’s government.

This can be achieved by relying on the strength of street mobilisations, with popular organization, with the need to massify the events and prepare their organization, with their methods, self-defence groups and democratic spaces, to mobilize and convoke a plan of struggles and actions. Street actions must have a democratic and broad character, uniting in action all democratic sectors.

This opens a new chapter in the fight against Bolsonarism, in the sphere of the mass movements, in which we need to win over those who voted for Bolsonaro.

Beyond the immediate response, it is necessary to go further and take action to dismantle the network of coup plotters, put them behind bars and nip the problem in the bud, taking advantage of the enormous repudiation across all layers of Brazilian society and even in the international community. This means deepening the rupture surrounding the secrecy of those involved, and arresting those who financed it and others involved.

Measures must be taken immediately. Arrest the Bolsonarist leaders, revoke the parliamentarians who collaborated, and carry out investigations into figures like Carla Zambelli and Allan dos Santos, as well as the local leaders of the caravans, who have already begun to be identified.

We join the call made by deputy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to extradite Bolsonaro. This would be the first step towards his arrest, a fundamental task that the PSOL already requested last week. Arresting Bolsonaro is a necessary step, as an axis of agitation. We have also defended the establishment of a CPI (Commission of Parliamentary Investigation), in the Federal District and in the Federal Congress, to broaden the investigations, combined with the definitive impeachment of Ibaneis.

We continue calling for international solidarity and to organise protests in the streets, with our parliamentarians, evoking the anti-fascist struggle. Today we will take to the street demonstrations, raising the flag that there be no forgiveness for those responsible of genocide and coup-plotters. Without amnesty and with the maximum democratic mobilization.

Israel Dutra is PSOL general secretary, sociologist and member of the National Leadership of the Socialist Left Movement (MES).

Roberto Robaina is a leader of the PSOL and MES, editor of Revista Movimento and Porto Alegre city councillor.