The Fall of Our Democracy*

Written by Marcelo Semer posted originaly on his Column at Justificando.

It is common to say that the Left, or some abstract entity, sometimes with Bolivarianism alias, ruled the country for thirteen years.

Brazil’s flag did not become red.

No company was nationalized. There was not a single democracy deviation through popular hand – not even a plebiscite in all this time. No changes have even been proposed to increase its own mandates length or reducing the others. No instrument of censorship was created, not even against to actively partisan media channels. There was no political police – and if there were, certainly would not have been to support the government. Even the sacrosanct financial system remuneration was kept unscathed – or even in uprise. No torturer from dictatorship years was, finally, arrested.

The so-called Bolivarianism has gone through four elections.

In about six months of cap and the interim government, the Constitution has already aged twenty years. The social welfare state is being disfigured by a budget ceiling that will put on hold the future of a whole generation; the education ideologically reformed by a provisory act; the oldest instruments of labor protection legislation are about to become history. At the foreign policy, it is making a bootleg turn on a transatlantic.

For these changes, which represent a significant reversal, of course, no election was needed.

That alone would be enough for the concept of Democratic normality get seriously shaken. After all, if such a huge change without elections is possible, so what for would they be needed?

Unfortunately, the Fall of our democracy does not stop there.

We can sense it in major decisions and also in small actions.

A bill restricting content that a teacher can give in the classroom; a theatrical play interrupted by the police, for allegedly being disrespectful to the country; the normality in which acts equivalent to torture are admitted as legitimate by authorities empowered to grant rights. The labor right to strike dismemberment being paired with the incessant criminalization of social movements.

As seen in dictatorships, even the smallest public agents feel free to cut the leash of repression. A judicial discourse that sees police self-defense against prisoners slaughtered by the military police; a recommendation-gag that expels the political debate of university spaces; the State of Exception expressly admitted as grounds for exclusion of the Rule of Law.

They are small States of siege incidentally declared every day.

The superpower of reasonable care is becoming an alibi for the suppression of liberties and the petrified clause’s solidity dismantles in the air with principles being replaced by policies subscribed by the highest Court of justice.

The mass incarceration that has made our prison population double in a decade seems to have not been enough to hold such wrath – despite being premium fuel for the growth of crime itself.

Lulled by the media success, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office presented a criminal change package bill that is a real Code of Law for the accusation – proposal of great incarcerating potential and for its own political power, amputating the judiciary and crushing the defense. Several North American procedural mechanisms are imported with great enthusiasm, without the warning that their incarceration resulted in 2.3 million prisoners, mostly black, and a huge prison system investment which is not even mentioned here.

How to reconcile 10 incarcerating measures with twenty years of public spending ceiling, is a silenced question.

Yes, it is true, we already lived worst crisis than that, whether in the economy, whether in politics.

I was born in the dictatorship period, between the coup of 64 and the AI-5 (Institutional Act 5 of 1968). When I turned eighteen, I was in the streets fighting for free direct elections, which were forbidden for us. We had the big stick of the State over our heads – Brasília besieged by war tanks, trade unionists arrested and a Military General in power.

There was a breath of hope in the air, though. The afternoon was going down like an overpass, but the future was opening like a truck loaded with good prospects. Reclaim democracy, build a fraternal society, reduce the enormous inequality that kept millions in misery.

Today my daughter is eighteen and to know that tomorrow will be another day only brings us even more threatening images.

Marcelo Semer is a São Paulo State’s Judge and a member of Judges for Democracy Association. Along with Rubens Casara, Márcio Sotelo Felippe, Patrick Mariano and Giane Alvares Ambrose participates in the column Contra Correntes, which posts every Saturday for Justificando website.

* Both words Fall and Autumn mean a season of the year. I chose to use Fall instead of Autumn because it could give this article’s title a second meaning the original portuguese article doesn’t have, which is the sense of falling, debacle, tumble, crumble… And I ask forgviness to this article’s autor for this poetic license in my translation. I did so because I believe it fits perfectly to its content.

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