Human Rights, Suffering and Good Living

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble 
or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?(…) 
in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 
(Romans 8:35-37)


Following the 2018 elections that Jair Bolsonaro to power, as expected, the setting up of the new government, provided evidence, on the one hand, of the militarization of power and, on the other, of the reissuing of the physiological criteria that indicate the worsening of rights violations and the intensification of conflicts, also dictated by religious fundamentalism, excessive exploitation in the world of work and the predatory extraction of natural resources.


In relation to civil society, it is our view that significant threats and harassment are occurring through exceptional practices and measures, daily threats to democracy and the challenges of dealing with the so-called “hybrid war”, in which the field of communication has become a space to continually dispute narratives.


This situation is even more complex than under the dictatorship, since there has been an eruption of the spirit of hate, in which any movement or person outside the imagined civil standard, such as black people, those from traditional populations, those outside the logic of the market or “Judeo-Christian” morality, becomes the object of persecution and criminalization.  The predatory use of resources as an easy solution to balance the books, the radical deregulation of the world of work, the privatization of strategic economic sectors, a lack of consideration for identity territories, all reveal how close neo-fascism is to neoliberalism.


We end the year adrift in a sea of uncertainty. What we are talking about is more than social policy setbacks, but lives mown down, killable.  The naturalization of violence in peripheral neighbourhoods reached its peak in a funk party in Paraisópolis, a neighbourhood in Sao Paulo, at the symbolic moment of the end of the year.  It took blatant scenes from the perverse and destructive daily lives of young people, very young, aged 14, 16, 18 and 22, who were trampled to death, for governor Doria to admit the gravity exposed by the desperate cries of mothers, uncles and sisters, although he also defended the ‘correct’ conduct of his police force, but if mistakes had been made they would be investigated…


There was no need for these contortions – Domingos Mariano, a celebrated human rights activist at the head of the São Paulo Police Ombudsman, was categorical in holding the battalion responsible for invading the alleyways of Paraisópolis, as if prodding cattle to create panic – nine lives, nine stories interrupted before their time.


From the big city to the heart of the forest.


Humberto Peixoto, who worked for Caritas in Manaus as an advisor to indigenous women from Alto Rio Negro, was killed in an act of extreme violence.  Thirty-seven year old Humberto was from the Tuiuca indigenous ethnic group.  The series of killings of the Guajajara from Maranhão is terrifying – first they killed a young indigenous “forest guardian”, then two chiefs and more recently two Indians from this group were run down.  Deputy Joênia Wapichana denounced the world of killers, when she participated in the UN COP25 on Climate Change in Spain.  In the middle of the defence of the Rights of Nature, she denounced the violations of the Human Rights of her brothers.  “Of interest in the Amazon is not the Indian, not even the bloody trees, it’s the minerals,” bellowed President Bolsonaro to avid land-grabbers jostling for room at the Planalto Presidential Palace.


On 10 December, it is worth asking why the federal government deliberately appoints representatives to public posts that are the very negation of their purposes? A macho woman in the Ministry of Human Rights and Women, a declared racist taking over the Palmares Foundation, an obtuse master of medieval values to run the National Arts Foundation (Fundação Nacional de Artes: FUNARTE), an arena for the airing of views and for creation?  Is this an orchestrated provocation to depress public opinion, sustaining a revolt to justify a coup?  Finally, frightened by populist demonstrations across Latin America, significant authorities recalled the ghost of AI-5 (an infamous decree from the military dictatorship).


In a recent interview, psychoanalyst Christian Dunker observed that “capitalism has discovered suffering as capital”.  Neoliberalism uses suffering as a fundamental element for the reproduction of social life, by subscribing to a new morality that goes beyond the mode of production and is a constituent element of a variant of fascism.


More than ever, this date is witness to a profound crisis of civilization in Brazil, in Latin America and across the world.  We need to unite, we need hope, so that together we can go out onto the streets and stop this disaster, this loss of rights and impunity.  We need to believe in the cycle of history, to resume, with greater democracy, the pathway of Good Living, of Peace and of Justice for humanity and for the nature that protects us.