Of the 83 parties forming in the Superior Electoral Court (TSE), six are led by reserve soldiers. Among them, only one is critical of the Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) government and expects to enter next year’s presidential race.
O Brazil in fact tried to contact the presidents of these parties to understand how they are articulated, what are the differences between them and in relation to the current administration.
The TSE will only accept registrations from parties that present, in a two-year period, 491,967 signatures in at least nine states. The number corresponds to 0.5% of the votes in the last general election for the Chamber of Deputies. In each state, the forms must be signed by a minimum of 0.1% of the voters of the last election.
One of the six parties in formation is Aliança pelo Brasil, chaired by Bolsonaro himself. Despite efforts to collect signatures, the retired captain admitted in October that it will not be possible to make the acronym official in time for the 2022 elections.
The retired military, who lead three other parties, did not respond to the report’s invitation. They are: Brazilian Military Party (PMBR), founded by federal deputy Capitão Augusto (PL-RS); Public Security and Citizenship Party (PSPC), chaired by Major Edivaldo dos Santos de Farias, from the Federal District; and Union for National Defense (UDN), by Lieutenant Altamiro Rajão, from Goiás.
In their statutes and social networks, the three acronyms defend ideas similar to those of the current government. In a friendly gesture, the PMBR gave the number 38 for Bolsonaro to use in the urn. The party in formation, registered in the name of Andréa Rosa, wife of Captain Augusto, got the number 64 – a probable reference to the year of the military coup.
From PDS to Defenders
The only military president of a party in formation who agreed to talk to the report was Corporal Washington Xavier, from the Military Police (PM) of Minas Gerais.
His name appears on the TSE page as a representative of two associations: Social Defense Party (PDS) and Defensores.
The PDS began to be structured in 2012 and collected 561,000 signatures, but it exceeded the deadline imposed by the new rule of the Court, from 2015.
“With that, we lost everything. We were inoperative for a while as a party, until I decided to restructure and come back with a new name”, explains Xavier.
“I preferred not to write off the PDS legal entity at the TSE in the hope that we could still be covered in some way. Therefore, it is still in the system.”
Today, the PDS uses its networks to apply for membership of Defensores, constituted on February 28 of this year, under the terms of current legislation – Resolution 23,571, of May 2018.
A retired MP and an evangelical, Xavier emphasizes that the party is not just made up of the military.
“The vast majority are people who are part of social defense – public and national security bodies, public relief –, but there are also people linked to education, who in a way cooperate for this defense system”, he says.
“The participation of civil society is of paramount importance.”
The Defensores signature collection process occurs in parallel in 14 states. The forms have not yet been collected and counted together, so there is no way to specify the number of adhesions.
The expectation, according to Xavier, is to make the party official in time to compose a presidential ticket in 2022.
“We are heating the turbines, and the next three months will be a lot of work”, says the cable.
To Brazil in fact, the leader of Defensores does not mention who could be the name launched by the party to the Presidency of the Republic. According to information broadcast in July by radio 98 FM, from Belo Horizonte (MG), the most quoted is Átila Maia, brigadier of the Air Force. The rank is equivalent to that of a general in the Army.
Maia, who presents himself in his networks as presidential candidate, was executive secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries in 2012 and candidate for senator for the PRTB in the Federal District in 2018 – he declared that he invested only R$ 1.5 thousand in the campaign and cast 135,000 votes .
Where do the differences live
In 2014, Bolsonaro recorded a video alongside Corporal Washington Xavier asking for support for the creation of the PDS. At the time, the possibility of launching him as a presidential candidate in 2018 was debated.
“The president, in my view, departed from the principles that led him to win the election. Much was expected of him”, recognizes the leader, Defensores.
“In the campaign, Bolsonaro promised that his reforms would not affect the poorest population. However, they aimed to serve and privilege certain groups.”
The disappointment is not new. The Social Security reform, in 2019, together with the end of the Lava Jato operation, in 2020, particularly frustrated the military with lower ranks.
“The Bolsonaro family itself used the privilege of the previous retirement model. So, who proposed the reform [da Previdência] he doesn’t feel the effects of this change”, he recalls.
“We, state police officers, spent 30 to 35 years of service [para aposentadoria]. It’s absurd, it’s inhumane, considering all the tension, health, psychological and physiological problems associated with the profession.”
Despite occasional criticism, Defensores is conservative in its “customs” and liberal in the economy. In the process of changing the name, the word “Social” was intentionally excluded, to disassociate the association from the left – according to a statement by its president to the newspaper The time.
Right in the first paragraph of the statute, there are expressions that locate the party ideologically: “good women and men”, under the “blessings of God”. The same text mentions that “the Defensores has Political Pragmatism as its ideological spectrum.”
Xavier explains that there is no disagreement about the Bolsonaro government’s privatizations, for example. However, the assessment is that the set of economic policy benefits foreign capital and harms local entrepreneurs.
“We have to privilege national industry, so that we don’t become slaves to foreign investment. Because those who invest want a return, and this return has not been reinvested in Brazil”, criticizes the retired military.
“The economic policy adopted by Minister Paulo Guedes has increased inflation, suffocated the poorest people, and placed millions in the poverty line. What is being done by the government is to favor the big banks”, he adds.
Last year, foreign investment in Brazil fell to the lowest level in two decades. The reduction was 62%, the most significant on the continent, according to a report by the United Nations (UN).
Private banks continued to profit from the crisis, despite the decrease in the population’s income level. [Continua após o vídeo.]
The leader of Defensores believes that emergency aid was important in the pandemic, but he refers to Auxílio Brasil as an “indirect purchase of votes for re-election”, reinforcing the “hampering” of voters.
“In this sense, he is doing worse than the previous government, which he criticized so much. I am in favor of social policy, but linked to human development, independence and the elevation of the person”, he emphasizes.
Xavier also questions the difficulty imposed in releasing credit to small and micro-entrepreneurs, in addition to budget cuts in areas such as education and technology.
“An ideological war was created and they forgot to govern for everyone”, adds the retired soldier, who has already been defeated in two elections – for federal deputy in 2018, and mayor of Belo Horizonte in 2020.
“There are many colleagues who haven’t woken up yet, but I believe they will soon wake up”, he concludes.
Edition: Vinicius Segalla