Brazil: Bolsonaro Studies ‘State of Siege’ to Guard Against Popular Rebellion

By Jakob Stein

This week a right-wing magazine leaked information that fascist Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has been studying the ‘state of siege’ decree under the guise of combatting the coronavirus. By decreeing a state of siege, Bolsonaro would be able to suspend the powers of both the judicial and legislative branches of government and consequently expand and consolidate the far-right’s control over the reactionary old state in Brazil.

Although Bolsonaro has denied studying the decree, he claimed that he would have “no difficulty” in implementing it at a press conference. As reported by revolutionary newspaper A Nova Democracia, “The expansion of the coronavirus and, mainly, its negative impacts on the social order (with the collapse of the health system) and on the bureaucratic capitalist economy that will cause inevitable explosions in the form of protests triggered the alert of Bolsonarism.”

Olavo de Carvalho, one of ideological figureheads of Brazilian fascism, stated that it may already be “too late” for Bolsonaro as he “did not destroy his enemies,” but only provoked them. Other far-right media figures close to the fascist president like Allan dos Santos have also added to the leak’s veracity, asking “Who leaked the State of Siege’s classified information?”

With the very real possibility of impeachment looming over Bolsonaro, his motivation for invoking a state of siege lies in the weakening of his support and credibility. Bolsonaro’s opposition within the right-wing of the old state, represented by the High Command of the Armed Forces, has sought to isolate him in the hopes of minimizing his damage. They view his regime as a dangerous adventure, mobilizing low-ranking members of the military and the most reactionary sections of the middle class for an open and declared military dictatorship, which they fear will spark a civil war.

The High Command of the Armed Forces, like Bolsonaro, wish to centralize power in the executive branch and carry out a preventative military coup against the rising wave of popular rebellion, however they wish to do so constitutionally and with the support of the judiciary and legislature.

A Nova Democracia reports, “The counterrevolutionary offensive was imposed as a necessity to carry out the three reactionary tasks of restructuring the old state, replacing the demoralized and agonizing political system, facing the serious crisis of bureaucratic capitalism, giving it a new impetus and conjuring up the danger of revolution in anticipation popular uprising against the system.”

Both Bolsonaro and the High Command of the Armed Forces wish to impose a military regime to guard against the threat of New Democratic revolution, but the disagreement in tactics has pit them against each other. Bolsonaro wants to gin up public support by attacking the decaying institutions of the old state with reactionary populism, claiming that his regime is the only one that can, “save the country from communism.” The High Command, on the other hand, aims to maintain the image of public order while consolidating their power to repress the masses, hoping to erode Bolsonaro’s image and turn public opinion against him while protecting their ability to seize power.