Brazil recalled this Wednesday a new anniversary of the 1964 coup between political turmoil, but with official guarantees that the recent relief in the military leadership it does not imply risks for democracy.
“Nothing changes,” the retired vice president and general stated bluntly in Brasilia, Hamilton Mourao, referring to relief of the three top commanders of the Armed Forces, on Tuesday, which followed the change of the head of the Ministry of Defense, the day before.
On March 31, 1964, a military regime was installed in Brazil that lasted for 21 years as a result of movements in the barracks and the departure of the president from Brasilia. Joao Goulart, who in turn had replaced the resigning ruler, Janio Quadros.
This year’s anniversary is the third to be remembered with the far-right Jair Bolsonaro installed in the Presidency of Brazil, which among the things that has stood out has been his longing for that dictatorial time.
However, unlike other dates, Brazil arrives on March 31 amid concerns in the barracks that erupted when it was known on Monday that the Minister of Defense, General Fernando Acevedo e Silva, had been replaced in office.
The departure of Acevedo e Silva, officially described as a “replacement” although unofficial versions openly speak of a dismissal, came shortly after the Foreign Minister announced his resignation, Ernesto Araújo.
Those two relays, which joined four other changes in Bolsonaro’s ministerial cabinet, resulted on Tuesday in the “replacement” of the heads of the Army, Air Force and Navy, without many official explanations about it.
However, Vice President Mourao tried to downplay these relays, despite the fact that they are the first known in several decades outside of a presidential change, which adds to the critical situation that the country is experiencing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The heads of the armed forces can be replaced at any time
The military chiefs, Mourao assured, “can be replaced at any time“by the president, in the same way he does with the ministers. According to the vice president, these changes are part of political” legality, legitimacy and stability. “
“This is not a problem; whoever assumes command of the (Armed) Forces will keep the same way of acting“he added.
Bolsonaro, for his part, made no comment to date what is remembered today nor to the changes in the military leadership when appearing before journalists to speak about official policies to face the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, on the previous anniversary, Bolsonaro, an Army reserve captain, referred to this date as a “great freedom day “, making clear his assessment of the military dictatorship that Brazil endured for 21 years.
New Defense Minister: the coup must be understood and celebrated
He did refer to the date, however, the new Defense Minister, General in the Reserve Walter Braga Netto, by means of an “Order of the Day Allusive to March 31, 1964”.
“The 1964 Movement is part of the historical trajectory of Brazil. Therefore, the events of that March 31 must be understood and celebrated“, says the text, very similar in content to the official notes of that Ministry released on previous dates.
And as on other occasions, Bolsonaro supporters demonstrated in different places, including Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, with the participation of hundreds of people who attended with a profusion of national flags.
In Brasilia, some of these protesters harassed and threatened photographers covering the event, including one of Efe, and they tried to stop them from taking shots of their celebration.
In its editorial today, the influential daily Or Balloon de Rio de Janeiro ruled out that there are signs that the military agrees to stop being subject to the Constitution and democracy “to embark on any adventure in the delusional Bolsonarista fantasy.”
“Perhaps inspired by the Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chávez, (Bolsonaro) seems to point to a mix of Government and Armed Forces in the power. It is the recipe for tragedy, “says O Globo, recalling this anniversary in its editorial.