Over 900,000 Brazilians from various political ideas including scholars, business people, and artists Thursday warned against “authoritarian setbacks” through an open letter which included former Presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva among its signatories.
Our democracy has grown and matured, but much remains to be done. In the next few days the electoral campaign begins when we should be at the apex of democracy, but instead of living a civic party we are going through a moment of immense danger for the democratic normality, with insinuations of disrespect to the result of the elections, went the document read before a large audience in the courtyard at the University of São Paulo (USP) Law School.
Similar ceremonies were held at universities in Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Manaus, and other state capitals nationwide.
There was no mention of President Jair Bolsonaro, who refused to sign it because he considered it a political document supporting Lula for the Oct. 2 elections. And he was not mistaken. Regardless of the document's wording, attendees at the reading chanted Out with Bolsonaro!
A similar letter published by the Federation of Industries of São Paulo (FIESP) with the support of the Brazilian Federation of Banks (Febraban), was also read at the event. Today, the big businessmen and bankers do not support a coup attempt because they know that free competition and private property require democracy, said Globo News economy analyst Carlos Alberto Sardenberg, who underlined a clear difference between what is happening today and what happened in the 1964 coup when many businessmen gave their support to the coup that gave rise to the dictatorship that ruled until 1985.
Ciro Gomes of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT, center-left) and Simone Tebet, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, conservative) who are third and fourth in all polls behind Lula and Bolsonaro, were among the
945,000 people who signed the document, which was also endorsed by Fernando Haddad, who lost to Bolsonaro in the 2018 elections and will be running for governor of São Paulo this year.
Meanwhile, Cabinet Chief Ciro Nogueira downplayed the importance of the event and insisted Bolsonaro was a true democrat, despite press reports underscoring the head of state's political isolation.
Other parts of the letter pointed out that threats to the other powers and sectors of civil society, and incitement to violence and constitutional order are intolerable, and that we have recently witnessed authoritarian ravings that have put the secular American democracy at risk. Attempts to destabilize democracy and the people's confidence in elections did not succeed there, and they will not succeed here either.
The letter also addressed a hypothetical scenario in which Bolsonaro would disregard Lula's win, although the head of state has repeatedly said he had no such plans and that if he was indeed planning to stage a coup d'état he would just remain silent and do it at the last minute.
Bolsonaro also denied he intended to repeat what then US President Donald Trump did when he refused to admit Joseph Biden's victory.
Nevertheless, Bolsonaro has been quoted as saying that his followers were not lambs and that they would react angrily if Lula wins through fraud with help from the electronic ballot boxes which he continues to distrust.