The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) experienced, this Thursday (21), the penultimate chapter of the dispute that pits Bolsonaro supporters and government supporters on the collegiate stage. When presenting his report, Bolsonaro deputy Ricardo Salles (PL-SP) did not do exactly what he had been announcing in recent weeks regarding the content of the text: he removed, for example, the name of deputy Valmir Assunção (PT-BA) from the list of indictment requests.
The text points to the indictment of 11 other people. The highlight of the list is General Gonçalves Dias, former head of the Institutional Security Office (GSI) of the Presidency of the Republic during the Lula government and one of those who gave testimony to the CPI. The list also includes the leader of the National Struggle Force (FNL) José Rainha and the director-president of the Institute of Land and Agrarian Reform of Alagoas (Iteral), Jaime Messias Silva. Salles also targets Débora Nunes, member of the MST’s national coordination, and seven names linked to the organization in Bahia. The state was, from the beginning, on the horizon of Bolsonarists’ attacks on the commission.
The removal of Valmir Assunção’s name results from the resistance of some deputies to the issue. There was even a refusal from some members of the Agricultural Parliamentary Front (FPA), the so-called “ruralist bench”, a traditional pole opposing the MST and other movements fighting for agrarian reform. The change confirms the trend that had been announced that the extreme right today finds itself on uncertain ground for the approval of the report. Directly responsible for the creation of the CPI, the group was predominant in the first phase of the collegiate, having chosen, for example, the names of the board of directors, but ended up losing strength along the way and today finds itself in an embarrassing situation in the face of the political game in the CPI .
“There is an understanding among several CPI parties that we could stick to what is materially proven and that does not affect the parliamentarian, as there will be specific bodies for this investigation in the Judiciary. This is a policy imposed by some of these leaders in the sense that the report can be approved on Tuesday”, Salles argued to the press after the end of the session.
The rapporteur’s bet is that, by excluding Assunção’s name, the text can attract more supporters. After the presentation of the opinion, parliamentarians from the government base asked for a collective view to analyze the document and the vote was scheduled for next Tuesday (26), the final date of the CPI calendar. Both Ricardo Salles and the president of the commission, Zucco (Republicanos-RS), stated this Thursday that the opinion could still be modified. “We will have the possibility of adjusting the report until Tuesday,” said Zucco at the end of the meeting.
Zucco’s statement is a nod to attempts to reach an agreement with members of the liberal right parties that make up the CPI. This Thursday, shortly before the start of the meeting, Salles told government supporters behind the scenes that he had removed Valmir Assunção’s name from the report. The exclusion is part of a strategy to win votes in favor of the opinion among members of the acronyms União Brasil, PP and PSD, for example, as some of the parliamentarians reject the idea of including a member of the House in the document due to the precedent that the initiative tends to generate.
The official report mentions Assunção’s name in at least five moments, but does not formally ask for an indictment in the conclusions, an excerpt from this type of opinion where the rapporteur’s requests are generally highlighted. During the session, deputy Sâmia Bomfim (PSOL-SP) even demanded the annexes to the document, as promised by Salles in one of the last pages of the initial opinion, but the full report was only made available minutes before the end of the meeting. In the hours before the text was posted in the system, only the core of the opinion, a material with 86 pages, was included in the Chamber’s electronic system. The complete file has 280 pages.
“We were not surprised by any of the elements presented in the report because the objective of trying to criminalize the movement, some leaders and the government itself is something that it had been announcing since before the CPI was installed. Today reading the report was melancholic, with a poorly prepared report and which had not (initially) even presented the annex, which is the most important aspect of a report due to the suggestions of indictment”, complained Sâmia, during a press conference at the end of the session.
When meeting journalists shortly after the end of the session, Salles was asked what the list of indictees would be, which had not become clear during the presentation of the first part of the report at the session table, but the rapporteur avoided detailing the matter. “It’s there in the document,” he quibbled.
The conduct was seen by government officials as yet another attempt by Bolsonaro supporters to create a smokescreen around the spectacularization of the CPI plot, but without presenting, under the spotlight, arguments with evidentiary consistency. Attention was drawn to the generic nature of the conclusions presented in the first part of the report, the 86-page one, in which Salles states that “serious crimes have been committed, not only against rural producers, but also against the most humble members of these groups and movements of struggle for land” and does not present evidence of the accusation.
Throughout this Thursday’s session and also when writing the report, Salles maintained the line of attacking the MST. He supports the discourse that the organization allegedly unduly exploits the labor and dignity of the workers who make up the base of the movement. Left-wing parliamentarians once again criticized the rapporteur’s approach.
“The CPI shouldn’t have even started. This here served as a Bolsonarist platform, but it only had an effect on (their) own base. Socially, the rapporteur became a defendant in recent weeks, he is quite demoralized and, on the contrary, the MST came out much stronger. Proof of this is that the governor of Rio Grande do Sul himself paid a visit to one of the solidarity kitchens that they (the activists) set up in solidarity with the victims of the climate tragedies that occurred in some cities (in the state)” , said Sâmia.
Representative Nilto Tatto (PT-SP) makes a similar analysis. He says he is still betting on the victory of the government base next Tuesday. “During the investigations, they committed crimes by invading shacks without a court order. They also entered indigenous lands without authorization. This was all consolidated within the CPI, it was demonstrated that it was just to attack the movements that fight for agrarian reform and intimidate the government of President Lula not to carry out the reform. With this, it became clear that the report mirrors this disorientation of the CPI itself over time. We will, with all certainty, defeat his report.”
The decision on whether or not to present an alternative opinion to the CPI remains uncertain among government supporters. This Thursday, the group reiterated that the deliberation will depend on the evolution of the political scenario until Tuesday (26). “Our report is already known to society and presents our version of the facts, demonstrating the irregularities that were committed in the investigations and in the conduct of the work. Whether we present it or not will be a tactical question based on the evaluation of the which will take place next Tuesday. Our concentration of efforts is to defeat Salles’ report.”
The regulations only allow the presentation of an alternative document until before the vote on the commission’s official report, so the government’s calculations depend on the stance that members of the liberal right-wing parties will take. Both the Bolsonarist wing and the government base still focus on these parties to compete for votes.
Members of the acronyms PT, PSOL, PCdoB, PSB and some groups should reject Salles’ report, but it is not known for sure how much support the government will have. The political debate that will result in the decision on whether or not to present a second report involves not only the CPI deputies, but also the government leader in the Chamber, José Guimarães (PT-CE), and the Minister of Institutional Relations, Alexandre Padilha ( PT).
Editing: Nicolau Soares