Manifesto of the Ist Act of the International Direitos Já! Forum for Democracy
(September 15, 2020)
The International Day of Democracy, instituted by the UN in 2007, is an opportunity for all of us to remember that democracy is about people, it is to the people and for the people so, ultimately, it needs to be valued, preserved and enhanced by each of us.
It was not easy to get here. Global democracy as we know it is recent, and it was born out of the awareness of the horrors caused by authoritarianism which, for not to be repeated, cannot be forgotten.
It was after experiencing the barbarism of World War II and the terrors of Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism that leaders of different nations, including Russia and the USA, finally united to create a multilateral organization, the UN - United Nations, with the task of mediating international conflicts, preventing wars, promoting peace, guaranteeing respect for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and, above all, democracy.
This movement of historical union inspired many countries’ constitutions worldwide, contributing to the global acceptance of democratic values, such as solidarity, plurality and peaceful coexistence with differences.
It is with great concern and a feeling of perplexity that today, after 50 years of consistent advances in these civilizing principles, we are witnessing a reversal. Among the countries infected by the “virus of authoritarianism” in today’s world, to a lesser or greater degree there are countries like Russia, Turkey, Hungary, USA, Venezuela and, unfortunately, Brazil.
In the 60s and 70s, the typical democratic ruptures took place through military coups. Today, they are slowly and gradually corroding their institutional pillars and the basic rights of citizens, especially of the most vulnerable groups. In some countries, the focus of this institutional violence are immigrants, ethnic and religious minorities. In Brazil, they are women, blacks, LGBT population, indigenous people and, of course, a huge mass of workers who lose their rights and become increasingly impoverished.
These autocratic regimes maintain the semblance of a democratic normality, in the sense that they do not close their parliaments, media, or the elections. Its strategy is to take over the institutions in a selective and gradual way. They do not dialogue with the opposition, they defraud or annul the critically important elections; they use the public agencies to pursue competitive political leaders and candidates; they equip the state’s intelligence and information agencies for electoral and ideological use; they mobilize groups within military, judicial and police institutions to carry out politically oriented actions; they selectively intervene in press organs; they persecute and try to prevent journalists and intellectuals from carrying out their work; they hinder access to culture and information, destroy the reputation of NGOs and universities, and they use public resources to avoid criticism, to benefit supporters and to harm opponents.
These days, the political strategy of anti-democratic groups includes the extensive use of social media and algorithms to orchestrate defamation campaigns, fake news and conspiracy theories, coordinated on an industrial scale against the opposition of politicians, NGOs, state institutions and civil society. In the most extreme cases, these campaigns are linked to the exponential increase in physical violence against minority groups.
The young Brazilian democracy is sick and has many of these symptoms.
The Bolsonaro’s government and part of its supporters continue with an anti-democratic narrative, praise of exception regimes, defense of the 1964 Military Coup, defense of torture, systematic attacks on journalists and press agencies, affirming the desire to exterminate the opposition and eliminate NGOs, among other attacks against democratic institutions and the basic political and civil rights of Brazilians. These postures are inadmissible in an environment of democratic normality.
And it is within this tragic context, in which we are facing a very serious public health crisis associated with the explicit corrosion of our democratic institutions, that Direitos Já! Forum for Democracy expresses its support to the independence and freedom of action of political parties, national congress, Federal Supreme Court and other State’s civil society’s instances, and brings together, once again, various leaders and their main movements, aiming to strengthen our capacity to reverse these threats through the union of representatives from all political spectrums.
On this International Day of Democracy, we invite all who seek to preserve the civilizing values so hardly won in the 1988 Brazillian Constitution, to get united in all their pluralities, with empathy and openness to dialogue, to build this broad front with us, reaffirming to all Brazilians the urgency of expressing their opposition to yet another authoritarian project that is advancing in the country.
Acts Promoted by Direitos Já!
All seven acts of Direitos Já! Forum for Democracy were very important and add diverse representatives in this construction:
Act I "In Defense of the Democratic Rule of Law". The act at Tuca was attended by 16 parties, 300 civil society organizations, the presence of Dom Cláudio Hummes and Noam Chomsky, a packed theater and hundreds of people watching the widest political act since Diretas Já on the street screen, showing that, yes, the Broad Front was possible.
Act II "In Defense of Freedom of Expression, the Press and the Secular State". With the importance of having been held at the National Congress and having the presence of Glenn Greenwald, it was the event that brought together the largest number of parties, 18.
Act III "In Defense of Life, Social Protection and Democracy". It brought together more than 130 guests in the biggest democratic act ever held by videoconference, with the special participation of Gilberto Gil on his birthday. It was the act with the greatest repercussions of Direitos Já!, occupying all TV news programs on Rede Globo, Globo News and TV Cultura.
Act IV "International Day of Democracy". Political and social leaders from no less than 14 countries participated in the act, including Argentine Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
Act V "Launching the ‘Embrace the Vaccine’ Campaign". Carried out in partnership with Frente pela Vida and with the participation of the CNBB’s president, Dom Walmor de Oliveira Azevedo, it brought together prominent health professionals, personalities and civil society organizations.
Act VI "In Defense of Emergency Aid". With the participation of Dom Mauro Morelli, it brought together prominent economists, political and society leaders, who presented the proposal for Direitos Já! for Emergency Relief during the Pandemic.
Act VII "For the CPI of the Pandemic - and the insult towards Felipe Neto, for the Freedom of Expression". A necessary act, at the most difficult moment in Brazil's history. With leaders from 14 parties and prominent personalities, it was the one that had the greatest reach on social networks among all the acts, putting pressure on the National Congress.
Who we are?
The Direitos Já! Forum for Democracy is a civil society initiative which, since 2018, has brought together political leaders from all parties in the democratic field and hundreds of social leaders and their organizations in defense of democracy and the fundamental values expressed in the 1988 Citizen Constitution. It arose from the need of an opposition to the authoritarian escalation in Brazil, a political phenomenon that has constantly jeopardized the freedom of citizens, the environment, minorities and tolerance, with evident setbacks in democracy and in the mechanisms for improving popular participation in national political decisions.
Where to find us?
DIREITOS JÁ! FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY