By Emir Sade. This article was first published on The Dawn News.
The last coup attempt in Latin America didn’t work out. It was against Hugo Chávez, in 2002. He was kidnapped by military commanders, taken to an island, isolated, while the then President of the Businessmen Association assumed the Presidency, flanked by Venezuela’s media owners, in a traditional party of the coupist Latin American oligarchies.
But this celebration didn’t last long. When the people learned what was going on, they took over the Palace and expelled the President of the Business association along with all media owners. The mandatory with the shortest presidency of Venezuela had to leave the Palace and the country, while Chávez was rescued and came back to the presidency in his people’s arms.
From that moment on, the Latin American Right has developed new ways of making “soft coups”. It began to promote emerging political processes, with some anti-liberal policies, but that lacked a fully complete matrix, without parliamentary support, to overthrow their leaders. This happened in Honduras with Manuel Zelaya, and with Fernando Lugo in Paraguay.
With accusations that were unfounded but widely spread on the media, they generated a favourable climate to start the vote on the impeachment of both presidents. In Zelaya’s case, it was done by kidnapping him and taking him to Costa Rica. In none of the cases the charges were proven, but the operation was underway and approved by the judicial system of the two countries. The soft coups had been completed.
These “soft coups” were widely condemned, and the governments installed after the overthrowing of Zelaya and Lugo were suspended from the international organizations to which they belonged —OAS, Mercosur, UNASUR— until institutional legality was restored with new elections. This happened because there is a consensual understanding in the continent of not legitimizing governments that take office by breaking legality through coups, even those that are considered “soft coups”. Elections were held in those countries, but the candidates supported by the deposed leaders failed to succeed, even in rigged elections, as in Honduras’ case. In the case of Paraguay, the division of the forces that had supported Lugo also hindered an electoral triumph. There are no conditions for soft coups to be accepted in the democratic political consensus in Latin America.
Brazil is the classic example of the opposition’s defeat in complete legal elections, even though the opposition continues insisting in looking for reasons to overthrow Dilma Rousseff through an impeachment. They have not found any real arguments but they insist on trying, as a way of damaging the government and extending the political crisis in the country.
Also, it wouldn’t be enough for the opposition to eventually overthrow the President with an impeachment, because in the next elections Lula comes in as the favorite candidate. Hence, part of the coup attempt is seeking to take Lula out of the electoral dispute through equally baseless accusations, but with sectors of the judicial system maneuvering to forge evidence, with the media at the service of the coup and the Federal Police contributing to brutal arbitrary operations.
Therefore, defending Lula has become not only the defense of the biggest popular and democratic leader that Brazil has ever had, but also the fight against soft coups and the defense of democracy in the country. The attack against Lula is part of a scheme of coup attempts. They need to be defeated at all levels, because Brazilian democracy will not survive with these agents of the new dictatorships. Brazil needs leaders who are legitimized by popular support, whose presence in everyday political life strengthens democracy and revives the hope that it can resume the path of economic development with income distribution, which has done so much good to the country and the Brazilian people.