by Fernanda Nogueira, Co-Editor and Writer at Brazil Talk
Over 90% of Brazilians use social media to read the news, and 70% of them have Facebook as their main source. It is a global trend, and it presents serious risks to public participation in politics, for the simple fact that one can select exactly what type of news one wishes to see. Even worse, based on your profile information, social media instruments now develop algorithms that determine what reaches your newsfeed, tailored to your tastes and beliefs. This allows people to avoid opinions with which one would otherwise disagree. This conduct has led to an alienation of public opinion in Brazil and abroad and has divided people into very distant groups in face of recent events, such as the president’s impeachment, hindering real civic participation in such an important time.
March 15, 2015 was marked as a Sunday of protests all across Brazil against Dilma Rousseff’s—from the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party)—government. One of the most vaunted demands was for impeachment proceedings to be opened against the President of the Republic.
First, it’s important to call attention to the fact that we live in a “Democratic State of Law” in accord with the preamble of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Brazil, enacted on October 5, 1988. “Democracy,” in quotation marks, because our social and political culture is characterized—for example—by slavery, patrimonialism, and innumerable historical examples of authoritarianism, such as: repression, manipulation, and extermination of indigenous populations by our country’s explorers; blacks brought here as commodities and treated like animals; the Bahia and Minas Gerais conspiracies; the Sabinada revolt; the Balaida revolt; the Praieira revolt; Guerra dos Farrapos (The Ragamuffin War); the Canudos War; Revolta da Vacina (The Vaccine Revolt); Chibata (the Revolt of the Lash); and military dictatorship, amongst others. There are important traces of this history present in our social and political culture today. This is why it is important that we defend democracy, without quotation marks, and not “democracy,” in quotation marks, that still tortures, persecutes, promotes inequality, silences, controls, selects, represses, etc. To defend democracy is to try and remove the quotation marks.