Brazilians unite in defense of democracy

Thousands of Brazilians turned out Thursday in defense of democracy, less than two months before the country goes to the polls in elections that President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to disregard if he loses — as seems likely according to polls.  

Today’s demonstrations united Brazilians from across the political spectrum and different segments of society. The mobilization centered around the public reading of pro-democracy manifestos, with the main event taking place at the Law Faculty of the University of São Paulo.

This harked back to August 1977, when the Law School was the scene of the reading of a pro-democracy manifesto denouncing the 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

This year, a letter denouncing unfounded attacks against Brazil’s electoral system and defending the democratic rule of law has garnered almost one million signatures — including from bankers, business tycoons, three former presidents, and candidates in this year’s election.

“We are going through a moment of immense danger for democratic normalcy,” warns the letter, which was read out to Brazilians at the University of São Paulo and across the country today.

A second pro-democracy manifesto, authored by Fiesp, a group of São Paulo industrialists, was also read out today. Brazilian Big Business is, belatedly, taking a stance against Mr. Bolsonaro’s authoritarian threats.

“Today is a huge day, I would say unprecedented, in which capital and the working class have come together in defense of democracy. We are celebrating, with joy and enthusiasm, the anthem of democracy,” said José Carlos Dias, a former Justice Minister who was responsible for reading out the Fiesp letter.  

Although the letters did not mention President Bolsonaro by name, there was no doubt as to where the threat to Brazilian democracy comes from. Demonstrations and public readings held simultaneously at universities across the country were all marked by calls of “Bolsonaro, out!” as well as chants in favor of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the election frontrunner.

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