Biden administration receives dossier from academics warning of ‘most extreme version of attack on Capitol’ in Brazil | World

Just over five months before the elections in Brazil – and without having an American ambassador in the country -, high-ranking members of the Joe Biden administration and the United States Congress received this week a dossier in which several academics and civil society institutions in Brazil and the US urge Americans to remain vigilant about the 2022 election and prioritize individual freedoms and democracy in their diplomatic relationship with the country, above geopolitical and commercial interests.

“Bolsonaro is creating the conditions for a very unstable electoral environment and, if he loses, the world should remember the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol and be prepared to witness a likely more extreme version of this in Brazil,” the document states. of 25 pages, to which BBC News Brasil had access.

The dossier, sent to Biden through some of his top advisers, points out similarities between Bolsonaro’s behavior and that of former US President Donald Trump to draw the attention of the US government. “Reminiscent of Trump’s 2020 rhetoric, Bolsonaro has already said he may not accept the results of the 2022 election, creating fertile ground for disinformation and extremist acts,” the document reads.

Trump, in turn, accused the American electoral system of being fraudulent even before the elections took place and, after the polls closed, filed several lawsuits against his defeat, tried to convince political actors not to endorse the results and urged followers to a demonstration that ended with the invasion of the US Congress, an episode in which five people died.

The Brazilian president echoed Trump’s unproven accusations of US election fraud and delayed official greetings to the Republican’s successor, Democrat Biden.

About 30 military tanks passed through the National Congress, Supreme and Planalto Palace as parliamentarians decided on the printed vote in the election — Photo: EPA via BBC

In Brazil, Bolsonaro campaigned for the print vote and even promoted a parade of tanks in Brasilia while Congress decided on how the country’s voting would take place in 2022. This week, the Brazilian president once again repeated that electronic voting machines are not auditable. and that there may be “suspicion” in the electoral process.

Running for the election, Bolsonaro appears in second place in electoral polls so far, behind former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT).

“Bolsonaro is not concerned about the integrity of the elections, and is trying to find any reason to contest the results – even before the election takes place,” says the report delivered to the Americans.

The document was prepared by professors from the University of Miami, Brown University, University of Virginia, City University of New York (CUNY), among others, and compiled by the Washington Brazil Office, with the support of organizations such as Greenpeace, the Brazilian Association of International Relations (ABRI), the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), Article 19, the Sou da Paz Institute, among others.

The text describes the Brazilian president’s speeches on September 7 as “pro-coup rallies”. At the time, Bolsonaro even said that he would no longer comply with judicial decisions of one of the ministers of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Alexandre de Moraes. The report also says that “Bolsonaro proved to be a threat to Brazilian democracy” and that “institutions have never been so threatened since redemocratization”.

When mentioning how Bolsonarista profiles on the web circulated, in 2018, a fake video that suggested that the electronic voting machine converted the vote for Bolsonaro to Fernando Haddad (PT), the dossier mentions that the message, originally posted by Flávio Bolsonaro, was replicated by an old acquaintance of Democrats, Youtuber Paul Joseph Watson, from Infowars, one of the biggest disseminators of fake news in the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections and a supporter of Donald Trump.

“His (Bolsonaro’s) constant attacks on the elections should lead international governments to support Brazilian democracy”, says the document, which also mentions the increase in deforestation rates in the current administration and the troubled relationship of the Executive with minorities, such as indigenous peoples. .

‘They try to give the elections an air of legality with international observers’

The dossier is distributed to the White House and to all US congressmen at the same moment that President Jair Bolsonaro once again casts doubt on the electoral process in Brazil. At an event at Palácio do Planalto this Wednesday (27/4), Bolsonaro suggested that the Army should double-check the election in October.

Right-wing militants call for military intervention on Avenida Paulista during September 7 demonstrations — Photo: EPA via BBC

“When elections are over and the data arrives over the internet, there is a cable that feeds the TSE’s secret room. Can you believe that? Secret room, where half a dozen technicians say ‘this was the one who won’. branch, a little to the right, because we also have a computer from the Armed Forces to count the votes”, said the president. The Superior Electoral Court (TSE) denies that there is a secret room like the one mentioned by the president.

Last weekend, the minister of the STF and former president of the TSE Luís Roberto Barroso said at an event at a German university that “since 1996 there has not been an episode of fraud in Brazil. Elections totally clean, safe and auditable. And now will you intend to use the Armed Forces to attack? Kindly invited to participate in the (electoral) process, are you being guided to attack the process and try to discredit it?”

Barroso’s statement was the subject of a note from the Defense Minister, Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira, who described it as a “serious offense”.

Amid tensions between the powers, in mid-April, the TSE launched requests to various international bodies to serve as observers of the electoral process in Brazil this year. Guests include the European Union, the Organization of American States (OAS), the Carter Center, an organization founded by former US President Jimmy Carter, the Mercosur Parliament (Parlasul), the Inter-American Union of Electoral Organizations (Uniore ), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP).

The presence of international election observers is nothing new. Still, President Bolsonaro reacted with irritation to the initiative.

“People want to give an air of legality (to the elections) by inviting international observers. Imagine an American, a Japanese, an Angolan, a Swede arriving here, what are they going to do? suddenly at night the result comes out. What observation is this? What legality is this? How confident can he say that these elections took place?”, questioned Bolsonaro, this Wednesday, at an event at the Planalto Palace.

Those responsible for the dossier, however, advocate that this is the time for the international audience, and especially the American one, to turn their eyes to Brazil. According to Paulo Abrão, former Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and one of the directors of the Washington Brazil Office, responsible for preparing the dossier, some American parliamentarians are discussing the possibility of creating a formal group of “friends of Brazil” to monitor the process. electoral.

“We are calling on the international community to look at Brazil even before the election itself and follow the process. The US voice supporting the outcome of an election is always very important to define the scenarios in the international community”, Abram told BBC News. Brazil.

The dossier was forwarded to Biden through some of his top advisers, such as Climate Envoy John Kerry, presidential adviser for Latin America Juan Gonzalez, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and USAID agency director Samantha Power. Sullivan and González visited Brazil in August of last year. On the occasion, in the face of public criticism by Bolsonaro of the Brazilian electoral system, Gonzalez made public comments about Brazilian democracy.

“We were very direct in expressing our confidence in the ability of Brazilian institutions to conduct a free and clean election, and we emphasized the importance of not undermining confidence in the election process, especially as there is no evidence of fraud in past elections,” he said at the time. , Gonzalez, about the content of the conversation with Bolsonaro.

President Jair Bolsonaro with Brazilian military — Photo: Getty Images via BBC

BBC News Brasil found that among Democratic congressmen in the US House of Representatives the possibility of an “informative visit” to Brasília by some congressmen in the second half of August, to monitor the Brazilian electoral process. The engagement of the US Congress will also be important to approve the name of Biden’s nominee for the US Embassy in Brazil, Elizabeth Bagley, before October, which is seen as likely. Thus, the US would have a permanent observer of the highest level in Brazilian territory.

This week, the US State Department sent a high-level delegation to meetings with Itamaraty and other Brazilian authorities in the country. Questioned at a press conference about the elections, the US authorities reaffirmed that they trust the ability of Brazilian institutions to conduct an election consistent with the choices of the Brazilian people.

“The Biden administration will most likely not express support for any of the candidates. But in the event of a crisis involving the elections, I expect the current US administration to support democracy and democratic outcomes. the state of affairs in Brazil, especially regarding the election, so that the legislature can put pressure on the Biden government to act in the right way if there is even a crisis in the Brazilian elections,” Alexander Main, director of international policy, told BBC News Brasil. from the think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington DC, and one of the directors of the Washington Brazil Office.

The Joe Biden government has the defense of democracy as one of its main global banners and, in December of last year, it organized a meeting with more than a hundred countries to discuss the challenges to democratic regimes around the world. Brazil was one of the guests.

About Abhishek Pratap

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