Democracy on the brink of the abyss

There are moments in life when we have to chose which political side we are on.
On the side of democracy that respects freedom, allows demonstrations of citizens and understands itself to be within a democratic State based on rights.

Either we are on the side of the one who denies democracy, praises the 1964 military dictatorship, lauds its torturers, whose victims, according to him, should not have been tortured, but simply shoot, starting with former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who detests homosexuals and advocates repressing them, who reviles the quilombolas, who, according to him, are good for nothing, not even for reproducing themselves, who scorns the Indigenous people, advocates a weapon in the hand of every Brazilian, publicly humiliates his own daughter, saying that she was born of “carelessness”, and who would be incapable of loving a homosexual son.

That man, a retired captain with no experience in public administration, who confesses that he understands nothing about the economy, nor of health or education, because that supposedly is the charge of the respective ministers … He does not understand that it is a President’s mission to define public policies, to set the path for the nation and to leave the execution of those policies to competent ministers.

That candidate, who received the most votes in the first electoral round and also has a large advantage over his opponent for the second round, shows a clear taste for Nazi-Fascism, in his language, his gestures, and the brutality of his expressions.

The recklessness of most political parties, that, not having won the elections, explicitly support him or give their followers freedom to pick a candidate, shames the country. They think only of the part, their political party, and not of the whole, that is Brazil.

Such neutrality in this historic moment of great danger to democracy is irresponsible. The resentment and hatred that have taken hold of a great part of the Brazilian people are the worst guides for coexistence in a minimally civilized society.

It is pointless to blame the people, saying they are ignorant but that in the end it was their choice. This ignorance and lack of awareness are fruits of the policies of the old oligarchies and the unfettered capitalism that has grown among us.The oligarchs always wanted an ignorant people with no awareness of their rights, so as to better manipulate them and maintain their own privileges. They are not afraid of a poor person, but they are terrified if that poor person is aware of his citizenship and demands his rights.

As noted by the great historian José Honório Rodrigues, who studied the relationship between the oligarchies and the people, the oligarchs always conspired against the people, humiliating them and denying them their rights. They never had a political project favoring the people.
This former captain with a fascist perspective is aligned with this tradition.

He even copied Hitler’s motto, Deutschland über alles, translated as:“Brazil above everything”. In his rude style, far from democratic civility, he promises to combat the present violence with even more violence, ignoring the fact that the first victims will be the poor, the Blacks, those with a different sexual orientation. Knowing the prospects of victory, his followers are foreshadowing this violence, to the point of murdering a famous capoeira educator in Bahia, and carving a swastika in the leg of a young woman in Rio Grande do Sul.

In the present moment, more important than political parties is having a broad front to defend against the threat to democracy and the denial of fundamental rights. We live in urgent times. Differences must be put in perspective, in order to face the danger that could threaten the destiny of our country and negatively affect our neighboring countries, whose democracies are also of low intensity. The rise of the far right in the world, especially in Europe and the United States, would be strengthened, and it would represent a return to the somber times lived in Europe under the boots of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco.

We know now that they rose with discourse similar to that of the fascist candidate, speeches that promised security and repression of all those who opposed them, many of whom were murdered or sent to the gas chambers. A few managed to find refuge in exile, such as Einstein, Freud, Brecht, Arendt, and others. We do not want this history to be repeated in our country.

Therefore, while we must respect the right to vote, but each one of us must be conscious and aware of the importance of the vote for himself or herself, for their families and the future of our country.

In the eyes of foreigners who are very concerned about our elections, we cannot be seen as a pariah nation, going back to nefarious times and policies; against which we all want to repeat: “¡Nunca más!” (“Never again!”).

Leonardo Boff Eco-Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission

Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro,


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