By Satyaki Chakraborty
Brazil which plays a key role in transforming the politics of the Latin American region is undergoing a big churning. This was most evident in the last one week as thousands of citizens staged massive rallies in all the major cities of the country on Saturday after a judge of the Supreme federal Court ordered a criminal investigation against the far right president Jair Bolsanoro in the covaxin scandal. For the first time, there was demand for the impeachment for the President from the crowd.
President Bolsonaro whose popularity rating is now ranging between 15 to 20 per cent was already under attack for his utter mis management of the covid-19 pandemic which led to the death of more than five lakh deaths up to now putting this LA nation as the and second highest in number of covid deaths after USA which tops the list now with more than six lakh deaths. India is third after Brazil with deaths crossing four lakh.
The probe against Bolsonaro is to inquire into thev alleged crime of prevarication in the case of the contract for 20 million doses of Bharat Biotech’s vaccine in a 4300 million deal. Thus there is an India connection in the probe and the political observers are amused that at the same time, two right wing bosses Bolsonaro in Brazil and Narendra Modi in India are facing allegations on different issues and both are known as close friends.
A French investigation agency has opened probe into the Rafale deal and this has led the opposition parties in India demanding the inquiry into the deal again by a Joint Parliamentary Committee. The Parliament session in India will begin on July 19 and this JPC demand is expected to dominate the first few days of the session. The ruling party BJP’s position is that already, the Rafale deal has been cleared by the Supreme Court and no allegations against Narendra Modi were found sustainable. But the legal circles say that if new facts come out in the French probe, the opposition can demand a relook by the Supreme Court on the basis of those and accordingly a petition can be filed.
As of now, Brazil which is a football crazy country is involved in the COPA America tournament involving excitement in every Brazilian family. Brazil is in semi final and it will be fighting Peru to reach final. On the other side Argentina will be fighting Columbia in the semi final. There is a big possibility of Brazil versus Argentina in final. The entire population including the President Bolsonaro, the opposition Workers Party leader Lula, the potential presidential candidate for the 2022 elections, are getting mad with the football fever. But simultaneously, Brazil is now having an unusual political fever for ousting the present president. The probe ordered by the federal court has only precipitated the mood of the citizens
Though the Bolsonaro administration has been swamped with allegations of corruption in the deal, being called ‘CovaxinGate’, the opening of a criminal probe against him takes the seriousness of the case – and the threat to his government – to a higher level. The charge against Bolsonaro is that he was alerted about suspected irregularities in the contract but he did not inform the authorities concerned for action. Under Brazilian law, this is an impeachable offence for elected officials.
To add to the political woes of President Bolsonaro, the main right wing party PSDB which supported him in the last presidential elections to defeat the leftist candidate, has distanced itself from the presidency and all its supporters are participating in the demonstrations. What is more, in many cities, the right supporters joined hands with the Workers Party (PT) and the communist trade unions and staged demonstrations. This was something unthinkable weeks back. This scenario has changed the entire political narrative just a year before the crucial presidential elections in 2022.
According to veteran analysts based in Sau Paulo, PSDB, which is a party of mostly middle- and high-income whites who are socially conservative, it was a big step to join rallies with PT, workers unions, student organisation and civil society groups. The biggest cheerleader of former president Lula de Silva’s arrest in a corruption case and impeachment of his successor Dilma Rousseff in 2016, PSDB got decimated in the 2018 election as its supports migrated in hordes to Bolsonaro. With Bolsonaro failing on all fronts, especially the economy and vaccination, a massive chunk of that group has now deserted Bolsonaro, though his far-right base of about 12 per cent to 15 per cent remains loyal to him.
For Latin American Left, the years 2021 and 2022 are very crucial for their political future. After a right wing phase, the pink tide is again back in the region. This year, the Left presidential candidate was defeated in Ecuador, but the left gained big in Mexican national assembly and governors election in May. Then in Peru, the left candidate won by a narrow margin in the presidential elections in June. But the president elect Castillo will be taking over only on July 28 and the defeated candidate Fujimori is resorting to all moves to challenge the results. In Chile , the left candidate is way ahead in the opinion poll for the presidential elections in October this year.
In this given scenario, the U.S administration is also watching the developments with anxiety. Despite considerable left presence in the Democratic Party, President Joe Biden is following the same anti left stance in Latin America. The Pentagon and CIA do not want Brazil to fall to the leftwing PT led by former president Lula next year.CIA director Burns met Bolsonaro last Thursday and had detailed discussions. Though officially, the talks were described as routine and mainly on joint approach to China and Venezuela, the left sources say that Bolsonaro felt seized and he might have sought US help in a vigorous manner.
That way, while the situation on the ground is turning favourable to Left in Latin America, there are greater apprehensions of US intervention, mostly in some form to save the right wing regimes. The role of army has also assumed importance just as in Peru, the army officially is airing views against the elected left candidate Castillo. Chile had a long army rule and despite latest constitutional amendment moves, the army remains an important component of the Chilean polity. Then in November, presidential elections will be held in Nicaragua and the present left wing president Daniel Ortega is well entrenched to retain his power. All in all, Latin America has emerged as the region of great political turmoil and possible change. (IPA Service)