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Campaign created by
James Green
Brazilian Democracy is Seriously Threatened


We, the undersigned academics, students, and scholars, living and working in the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world, who are specialists in Latin American studies, are alarmed at the current political situation in Brazil, which poses a serious threat to democracy.

Why is this important?

Since 1985, Brazil has been enjoying the longest period of democratic stability in its history, following a coup d’état in 1964 and a violent military dictatorship that lasted twenty-one years. Under the aegis of the 1988 Constitution, which guarantees a wide range of social and individual rights, Brazil has become a more democratic society, with greater political participation, broader and more inclusive notions of citizenship, and the strengthening public institutions.

In spite of these advances, corruption remains endemic. A series of scandals involving politicians of different party affiliations have outraged the public.

As a result, there have been widespread mobilizations demanding an end to illicit practices. There have also been bold actions by state institutions, such as the Federal Police, the Federal Prosecutors Service, and the Judiciary.

The combat against corruption is legitimate and necessary to improve the responsiveness of Brazilian democracy. But in the current political climate, we find a serious risk that the rhetoric of anti-corruption has been used to destabilize the current democratically-elected government, further aggravating the serious economic and political crisis that the country is facing.

Instead of retaining political neutrality and respecting due process, sectors of the Judiciary, with the support of major media interests, have become protagonists in undermining the rule of law. During their investigations, some public officials have violated basic rights of citizens, such as the presumption of innocence, the assurance of an impartial judiciary, attorney-client privilege, and the guarantee of the right to privacy.

The Lava Jato Operation, led by the federal judge Sérgio Moro, has centralized the principal corruption investigations over the last two years. These investigations have been marred by repeated excesses and unjustified measures, such as arbitrary preventive detentions, dubious and problematic plea-bargaining agreements, selective leaking of information to the media for political purposes, and the illegal wiretapping of both the current President of the Republic and the most recent former president.

All of this has taken place with the sustained support of powerful sectors of the media in an unprecedented effort to influence public opinion for specific political ends. The combat against corruption must be carried out within strict legal limits that protect the basic rights of the accused.

The violation of democratic procedure represents a serious threat to democracy. When the armed forces overthrew the government of President João Goulart in 1964, they used the combat against corruption as one of their justifications. Brazil paid a high price for twenty-one years of military rule. The fight for a democratic country has been long and arduous. Today, all those who believe in a democratic Brazil need to speak out against these arbitrary measures that threaten to erode the progress made over the course of the last three decades.


Organized by James N. Green  –
and Renan Quinalha  –
March 24, 2016

1. Andrea Allen, University of Western Ontario
2. Anthony Bogues, Brown University
3. Barbara Weinstein, New York University
4. Benjamin Arthur Cowan, George Mason University
5. Brodwyn Fischer, University of Chicago
6. Bruno Carvalho, Princeton University
7. Bryan McCann, Georgetown University
8. Cecilia Santos, University of San Francisco; University of Coimbra
9. Charles A. Perrone, University of Florida
10. Cristina M. Mehrtens, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
11. Clifford Andrew Welsh, Universidade Federal de São Paulo
12. Débora Ferreira, Utah Valley University
13. Edith Wolfe, Tulane University
14. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, The University of South Florida
15. Elizabeth Leeds, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
16. Geri Augusto, Brown University
17. Gianpaolo Baiocchi, New York University
18. Gladys Mitchell, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
19. James N. Green, Brown University
20. James Woodard, Montclair State University
21. Joel Wolfe, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
22. John L. Hammond, Hunter College and Graduate Center, CUNY
23. John Samuel Burdick, Syracuse University
24. Judy Bieber, University of New Mexico
25. Keisha-Khan Perry, Brown University
26. Leah VanWey, Brown University
27. Leandro Benmergui, State University of New York, Purchase
28. Louis Forline, Univ. of Nevada-Reno
29. Maud Chirio, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée
30. Marc Hertzman, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
31. Marianne Schmink, Professor Emerita, University of Florida
32. Mark Langevin, George Washington University
33. Marshall Eakin, Vanderbilt University
34. Maxine L. Margolis, University of Florida, Gainesville
35. Misha Klein, University of Oklahoma
36. Mônica Raisa Schpun, École des hautes études en sciences sociales
37. Nina Schneider, University of Konstanz, Germany
38. Paula Halperin, State University of New York, Purchase
39. Pedro Meiro Monteiro, Princeton University
40. Peter Evans, Brown University
41. Rafael R. Ioris, University of Denver
42. Ralph Della Cava, Queens College, CUNY & Columbia University
43. Rebecca Atencio, Tulane University
44. Roger Kittleson, Williams College
45. Roquinaldo Ferreira, Brown University
46. Seth Garfield, University of Texas, Austin
47. Sidney Chalhoub, Harvard University
48. Sonia Alvarez, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
49. Susan C. Quinlan, University of Georgia
50. Teresa Meade, Union College
51. Victoria Langland, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor