On April 28, 1987, in her speech to the Constituent Assembly, Lélia Gonzalez states categorically: “We are not here playing to make a Constitution”. We are not here playing to make a democracy – are we? Democracy is not a slogan, it is a constant struggle. Today, with the egos inflated due to the just, although messy, accountability of deputy Daniel Silveira, it does not seem that Congress and the STF have let the anti-democratic band pass when their own institutional self-protection is not at stake.
It does not seem, but they have left. It would be only unconstitutional, if it were not already tragic, the fact that the STF used an instrument of the dictatorship, the National Security Law (LSN) of 1983, to curb apology for the dictatorship. Doing so is symptomatic of a country that calls itself democratic, but lives without major existential crises with the gradual authoritarianism of the corner guards against the cheapest meat on the market, black.
The 1983 LSN carries the repressive DNA of previous laws, decrees of 1969, 1967 and 1935, and it is up to the STF to declare it unconstitutional. As Laura Kirsztajn’s 2018 survey shows, although some STF ministers like Barroso and Lewandowski have already criticized the 1983 LSN, its constitutionality has never been addressed centrally by the STF. OAB rehearses to question the law in court, but for now nothing.
As long as the STF lets the Ministry of Defense celebrate the anniversary of a military coup, as Minister Toffoli did in a decision of May 2020, for historians and not the judiciary to say what is a coup and what is a dictatorship, the anti-democratic band passes unscathed. When the STF decided in September 2018 to reject a hate speech complaint against the then candidate Jair Bolsonaro because he had not come to defend the “elimination” (read genocide) of the black population, only his inferiority, the anti-democratic band passed so unscathed who won the elections.
The dictatorship band passes when Congress is not quick in disciplinary punishment of coup parliamentarians. The case of Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP) in the Chamber’s Ethics Council since December 2019 for defending the AI-5 has not been underway since then. As long as parliamentarians do not replace LSN with a law that democratically ensures protection of the rule of law, the band of ministers of justice who qualify journalists as a threat to national security will go unhurt.
What we really lack is transitional justice. We still need to take seriously the 29 recommendations of the National Truth Commission, 80% of which have not been fully or partially fulfilled. We still need to stop defending the Amnesty Law, as this one does. sheet and the STF, preventing us from prosecuting crimes against humanity as torture, despite international condemnations against Brazil and the practice of our neighbors like Argentina. Prosecuting torturers is not even a controversial legal issue as the Brazilian courts make us want to believe.
We lack museums like the Memory in Chile, to bring the truth about the horrors of the dictatorship to future generations. We lack civilian control over the military, including PMs, whose militarization was not invented by the dictatorship, but their atrocity was heightened by it. We still need to forbid apology for the dictatorship by law, otherwise the band of praise on the part of our President of the Republic will continue to pass to dictators like the Paraguayan Stroessner, a serial pedophile, and the Chilean Pinochet, a persistent torturer. Bolsonaro praised them, and the band went unscathed.
While institutions breathe a sigh of relief that Daniel Silveira is in prison, we ignore other Daniéis Silveiras sitting at the presidential seat, in Congress and lurking around the corners. What we really lack is not to play with democracy.
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