Brazilian business leaders sign manifesto in support of democracy

Over 3,000 businesspeople, celebrities, former politicians, and other members of Brazilian civil society have signed an open letter to the Brazilian people “in defense of democracy and the rule of law.”

Among its most notable signatories are musician Chico Buarque, former footballer Walter Casagrande, executives of major corporations, former cabinet members, and a former chairman of the Central Bank.

The manifesto, drafted by the University of São Paulo’s Law School, includes support for the country’s electronic voting system and says that there “is no more space for authoritarian backsliding.”

While it does not explicitly mention President Jair Bolsonaro by name, the letter criticizes his “unfounded attacks” on potential electoral results and the “questioning of the fluidity of the electoral process and democratic state of law fought for by Brazilian society.” 

The document also cites the failure of the January 6 Capitol riot in the U.S. as a demonstration of electoral confidence by citizens that Brazil should reflect.

José Celso de Mello, a former Supreme Court justice, will read the manifesto aloud on August 11. As a symbolic move, the event will be held in the courtyard of the University of São Paulo’s law faculty, where Goffredo da Silva Telles Junior recited his famous ‘Letter to Brazilians’ in 1977, renouncing the military dictatorship of the time.

A sympathizer of that regime’s undemocratic and violent legacy, President Bolsonaro has continuously threatened to stage a coup if this year’s elections don’t turn out in his favor. Recently, he convened foreign ambassadors in Brasilia to discuss his skepticism over the country’s electronic voting system.

Fearing the materialization of these destabilizing threats to democracy, the manifesto’s signatories wish to strengthen the public sphere’s opposition to any undemocratic moves by the president.

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