By: Rafael Tatemoto / Source: Brasil de Fato / The Dawn News / August 16, 2016
Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was deposed by the military in 2009. Fernando Lugo, President of Paraguay, was overthrown after a process that lasted less than 48 hours. Militants of both countries consider that one of the elements that led to the impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff was the fact that the Brazilian right learned from those events in the recent history of Latin America.
To analyze the relation between those processes, last Monday (August 15) a debate was held under the title “Coup in Latin America: analysis of the current juncture in Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil”. It was organized by the Information and Action Network for the Right to Eat (FIAN), and it took place in Brasilia, in the auditorium of the Unified Workers’ Central, where representatives of each of the 3 countries took turns in the debate.
Protesters against the coup in Paraguay
According to Honduran Marlon Ochoa, member of the Freedom and Refoundation Party, the coup against Manuel Zelaya was the last one to involve the military in the region.
“The case of Honduras was the last coup in Latin America where security forces played a fundamental role”, he said. “There wasn’t a process of political trial. At the ideological and cultural level, putschists lost in Honduras. It was an old-school coup, and the massive movement of resistance was amazing. The Latin American right learned a lot from the Honduran process”, Ochoa said.
The method used to depose Zelaya was a clear violation of the democratic process. “The coup in Honduras was ill-executed and caused the immediate unity of the left, which allowed us [the left], to open a dialogue with the population. A consequence of this was that, 7 years after the coup, a left-wing political party was born, a party that had a potential to triumph in the elections”. This party is the Freedom and Refoundation Party, of which Ochoa is a member. “In the 2013 elections, in which the putschist government committed fraud, the Freedom and Refoundation Party obtained 30% of the vote, while the party in power obtained 34%”, he said.
The Honduran experiment served, therefore, as a starting point for the right to perfect itself in the destabilization of left-wing and center-left parties in the region.
“Since Honduras, coups in Latin America made efforts to save face. But, deep down, they are still a reconfiguration of the power represented by the State. There are fundamental economic actors behind these processes”, Ochoa affirmed.
The Paraguayan process, although turbulent, was a the test in Latin America to depose a president through Parliamentary actions.
“Sadly, Paraguay may have been the first laboratory for this more sophisticated type of coup. They learned that doing it too fast may elicit regional reactions. In Brazil they did it in a way that appeared as democratic. They have perfected their method”, analyzed Jorge Giménez, a Paraguayan teacher.
“It’s a new format for coups. With the exception of Honduras, there are no more classic coups like the ones in the 70s or 80s, where a military insurrection overthrows the President”, he added.
Giménez sees profound similarities between the Brazilian and the Paraguayan cases. “They are completely alike. Where does this similarity reside? Not in the time frame, because in the case of Paraguay, the whole thing was over in two days. The parallelism is found in the fact that they didn’t need reasonable arguments. They accuse first and then seek a justification, and all the reasons are absolutely insufficient. Formally, Brazil’s case was more sophisticated, but the content is the same. The reason behind it and the method are the same. This is the same thing they want to do in Venezuela, it’s a widespread process in Latin America”.
“The fundamental issue is that there are no sufficient juridic reasons to overthrow these Presidents that were elected in the polls, but through a series of tactics that were implemented due to the fact that they didn’t have a majority in the Congress. That’s exactly what happened in Brazil”, Giménez finished.
Similarities and differences
The degree of sophistication that the Brazilian process achieved created difficulties to organize the resistance. In this regard, Ochoa affirmed that “there are sectors of the [Brazilian] population that recognize that there was illegality in Dilma’s process”.
But all coup processes were similar in the nature of the actors who promoted them. The militants pointed at local groups of economic power and US interference, which were common elements in all cases.
“In states with fragile institutions, such as Honduras, this is more palpable and visible, but imperialism also has a role in the Brazilian case. The US haven’t changed their stance, Latin America is still an anti-imperialist axis and the US keeps to promote destabilization processes”, the Honduran affirmed.
“There is a US onslaught on the region, what some call a ‘colorful revolution’, a stimulus for non-conventional wars, where the key element are tactics at the ideological level. This legalist disguise is tighter”, said Carla Bueno, a militant of Popular Consultation.
To her, the Brazilian process is notorious for its effort to keep up the appearance of legality. “The behavior of the Judicial Power and the Globo Network (main media network in the country) is singular. The greatest example of this singularity was the stance of the business sector, which tipped the scale. They had an alliance with the PT and they changed sides during the process”, analyzed Bueno.
According to Bueno, the unification of the left-wing sector that occurred in Honduras may be replicated in Brazil, and is a legacy to be learned from.
“In this period, the left, especially youth, is going through a very strong process of mobilizations and of taking to the streets to struggle. This is a great advance despite all setbacks. Time will allow us to evaluate the situation better, but processes of unity must be forged, overcoming the difficulties, especially within the Popular Brazil Front, where it may strengthen the forefront for a new political process”, she concluded.