Commission heard congressmen about alleged attacks on freedom of expression, censorship and excesses of the Brazilian Judiciary, citing the decisions of Minister Alexandre de Moraes, of the STF

Congressmen from the United States Democratic Party criticized Brazilian parliamentarians during session of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives held on Tuesday (May 7, 2024). The audience’s theme was “Brazil: the crisis of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law?”.

During the session, congressmen challenged the reason why the commission was holding a hearing to debate democracy in Brazil dealing with Supreme Court decisions, drawing attention to episodes such as January 8, when extremists invaded the headquarters of the Three Powers asking for intervention federal government, and when former president Jair Bolsonaro was filmed at the Hungarian embassy after being the target of a PF (Federal Police) operation.

Democrats Susan Wild (Pennsylvania) and Sydney Kamlager-Dove (California) were responsible for criticizing the audience. Read what each person said below:

  • Susan Wild: “Instead of strengthening our relationship, a hearing like this only serves to harm. Brazil is a strong democracy, with a robust civil society and media. A variety of political parties representing a huge political spectrum and an electoral system that is considered one of the safest and fastest in the world. As in all democracies, including here in the United States, there are healthy debates to be had about the country’s institutions, but I want to be clear: internal politics and debates on constitutional and legal issues must be decided by the Brazilian population, their representatives elected officials and the Brazilian Judiciary. The United States Congress is not the forum for that. We can and must continue to find areas of cooperation and mutual advancement, but we must not and cannot act as if we somehow have a mandate to intervene in the internal mechanisms of Brazil’s institutions. Democracies are different, each formed by its own history. The 1988 Brazilian Constitution was shaped by a military dictatorship that usurped power through a military coup and brutally ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. Many of the people who lived through those horrendous years still remember the murders, disappearances and torture. Brazilian democracy responded by providing the courts with the mandate to protect its hard-won democracy and prevent authoritarianism from taking root again. What we will hear today from some witnesses is an attempt to undermine Brazil’s judicial process. Former president Jair Bolsonaro’s conduct in office, his praise for the military dictatorship, his calls for violence against his political opponents, his refusal to recognize his defeat in the 2022 elections, his attempt to plan a coup and his incitement to attacks January 8 triggered laws in force, designed to serve as a brake on the Executive Power resulting from the 1964 coup […] The title of today’s hearing is “Brazil: a crisis of democracy, freedom and the rule of law”. Mr. President, with all due respect, I ask where the audience on Brazilian democracy was when we learned about then-president Bolsonaro’s efforts to foment a military coup? Where was the audience after supporters of former President Bolsonaro led a coordinated attempt to overthrow the country’s democracy on January 8, 2023?”;
  • Sydney Kamlager-Dove: I visited Brazil, I just got back from Brazil, I was actually there when footage of then-president Bolsonaro hiding in the Hungarian embassy was revealed and released. So I ended up… my turn, my turn… I just led a convention delegation of black congressmen to Brazil to learn about our shared histories of racial discrimination. And if we want to talk about strengthening democracy, we should be talking about how we can increase the political participation and economic and social inclusion of Afro-Brazilians who have been murdered and marginalized throughout Brazil’s history and let a light shine on all the appropriations of land and religious persecution that these communities continue to face, instead of this hearing about protecting Brazil’s democracy, but which is actually an attempt to undermine it by interfering in the Brazilian judicial process and giving a platform to the same individuals who spread lies about the Brazilian elections. Furthermore, the far right in the United States is using a debate surrounding Brazil’s fight against disinformation as an opportunity to cry like a victim when they face responsibility for their own undemocratic acts and to give them cover for enabling January 6th insurrection. So if that’s not the definition of distortion, I don’t know what is.”

Watch (8min32s):

The commission heard witnesses about alleged attacks on freedom of expression, censorship and excesses of the Brazilian Judiciary, citing the decisions of the STF (Supreme Federal Court) minister Alexandre de Moraes. Federal deputies Nikolas Ferreira (PL-MG) and Eduardo Bolsonaro (PL-SP) were on the list of those present.


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