Brazil was watching Canada; now it's freezing bank accounts and threatening children
In some corners of the world, America and Canada no longer stand as beacons of freedom, but as examples of what can happen when democracy is successfully attacked from within.
The world has watched protests that revolved around everything from elections to COVID mandates — and they've anxiously watched our government's responses to those protests. Now it's clear that our public conflicts have fanned the flames of power struggles already smoldering around the globe.
Take Brazil for instance.
Last Thursday, in a page from Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau's playbook, Brazil's Federal Supreme Court judge Alexandre de Moraes ordered the freezing of protesters' bank accounts — to include individuals, truckers, and the companies they work for. Why? Because of "repeated abuse of the right to assemble."
On Sunday, another disturbing report emerged that the Brazilian justice inspector, Minister Luis Felipe Salomao, had "signed an order allowing child services to take children away from election protesters." According to the War Room, "The Public Ministry, Guardianship Council, and auxiliary bodies have been assigned to 'protect the children,' removing them from the protests and their parents' custody when they deem necessary."
This order was eerily like when Trudeau invoked the Emergencies Act to crack down on Freedom Convoy protesters. The act of a desperate dictator, the prime minister made it illegal to bring minors to (suddenly deemed "unlawful") protest sites, which was punishable by fines of up to $5,000 and/or up to five years in jail. Police assured parents that their children would be "brought to a place of safety" upon removal.
How did we get here?
Last month, "Lula" da Silva of the leftist Workers' Party, former president and convict who was serving time on corruption charges as recently as 2019, shocked everyone when he squeaked out a win over incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro.
According to sources, soon after Lula's win over Bolsonaro, an organic movement swelled up on social media platforms with supporters asking, "What are we going to do? Are we going to stand for this?"
After being told their president lost his re-election bid last month, Brazilians have been protesting nearly non-stop. The number of protesters has experienced an ebb and flow because, like most Americans and Canadians, they must strike a balance between holding down jobs and fighting for their democratic rights.
November 15 was one of the largest protests yet, with millions filling the streets in support of outgoing president Bolsonaro. Coinciding with a public holiday, a sea of people began assembling holding signs that read:
- Army's Forces — Save Brazil!
- Democracy YES
- The power comes from the people
- No to Communism — Communism NEVER
YouTube screen grab.
Many of Bolsonaro's supporters believe that the election was stolen, and they're begging the Brazilian military to come to their aid. They believe that their constitution supports military intervention in the instance of a fraudulent election. (Also, Bolsonaro himself is a former army captain, and many of his top officials have some military connection.)
A Bolsonaro-supporter explains:
Everybody's saying the military needs to take over; but they just don't know how. There's Article 142 in our Constitution, but our Constitution is over 500 pages; ridiculous big. For everything that's there, there's something else that seems to contradict it; so it's almost impossible to apply anything correctly.
"We hope the army will intervene in this situation, we know that those elections were fraudulent," a retired government worker told Reuters at a rally at the entrance to a São Paulo army barracks.
Protesters rallied near military bases in major cities because they felt safer there. "Thinking that if someone is going to try to take them out, the military will protect them," a source said.
Another Bolsonaro-supporter said protesters also felt safer near the military bases than, say, the National Congress buildings in their capital of Brasilia, because of what happened on January 6: "They saw it was a trap. The protest was infiltrated ... with people that were wearing MAGA hats and urging them on." Bolsonaro-supporters weren't going to get railroaded the same way Trump-supporters had been, he said.
Prior to the election, Bolsonaro had tasked the military with an audit on the security of the country's electronic voting system. He had long considered it vulnerable.
The military did not release the results of the report until the presidential runoff election was over. While the report supposedly showed "no fraud or inconsistency," according to CNN, it went on to say, "It is not possible to guarantee that the programs that were executed in the electronic voting machines are free from malicious insertions that alter their intended function." Since they weren't given full access to the source code, there was no way they could rule out the influence of malicious code.
Bolsonaro-supporters saw this as an admission that voting could have been tampered with.
As it stands now, truckers and trucking companies that have had their accounts frozen are talking about not moving goods for 30 days. "This could bring the country to its knees," a supporter said. "There's a fight right there. We're waiting to see what's going to happen." He added that he believed civil war could be avoided. "And I do believe something is going to happen that's going to be better than what has happened in the United States. Where are the millions of people who voted for Lula? Where are they? Only the criminals and celebrities are happy about the election!"
To watch Steve Bannon's interview with reporter Jayne Zirkle about the Brazilian government's suppression of protesters, click here.
Susan D. Harris can be reached at www.susandharris.com.