Urging the Government of Brazil to Ensure That the October 2022 Elections Are Conducted in A Free, Fair, Credible, Transparent, and Peaceful Manner

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 28, 2022
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SANDERS. Res. 753.

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Mr. SANDERS. I know of no further debate on the resolution.
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Mr. SANDERS. Madam President, I have risen today to ask unanimous consent for S. Res. 753, expressing the sense of the Senate on the upcoming election in Brazil.

This Sunday, October 2, Brazil will hold its Presidential election. According to many polls, it appears that the two major candidates are President Jair Bolsonaro and former President Lula da Silva. If no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff election between the top two candidates on October 30.

Madam President, over the past several months, Brazilians from all sectors of society have publicly expressed serious concern about ongoing efforts to undermine democracy in their country, including close to 1 million Brazilians who signed an open letter released on July 26, defending the democratic institutions of Brazil and the rule of law.

And there is a very good reason why these people in Brazil signed that letter. And that is that the current President, and candidate for reelection, Mr. Bolsonaro, has made some very provocative statements which suggest that he might not accept the election results if he loses. In other words, he might attempt to destroy Brazilian democracy and remain in power no matter what the people of Brazil determine in a free, fair, and democratic election.

And let me just quote some of what Mr. Bolsonaro has been saying over the last several years. Back in September 2018, before he won his election, Bolsonaro stated:

I will not accept an election result that is not my own victory.

On September 7, 2021, as reported by the Financial Times, Mr. Bolsonaro stated:

There are those who think they can take me from the presidency with the mark of a pen. Well, I say to everyone I have only three possible fates: arrest, death or victory. And tell the bastards I'll never be arrested. Only God can take me from the presidency.

According to Human Rights Watch, previously, President Bolsonaro had claimed, without providing any evidence, that the last two Presidential elections were fraudulent, including his own election, in which he claimed he got more votes than the final tally showed.

But it is not just Bolsonaro's words that should be of concern to those of us who believe in democracy. According to a recent survey by the Federal University of the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is facing a 335-percent increase in violence directed against political leaders in 2022 relative to 2019.

Last month, a Workers' Party official was shot dead by a Bolsonaro supporter. Yesterday, Reuters reported that the Federal Police guarding former President Lula da Silva, who is the current frontrunner to unseat Bolsonaro, sent a classified memo to senior colleagues across Brazil calling for backup in order to protect Lula from possible assassination attempts.

It is clearly not the business of the United States to determine who the next President of Brazil is or to get involved in Brazil's Presidential elections in any way. That is a decision to be made solely by the people of Brazil through a free and fair election. But it is the business of the United States to make clear to the people of Brazil that our government will not recognize or support a government that comes to power through a military coup or the undermining of a democratic election.

In that regard, I have asked to receive unanimous consent today for a resolution that I introduced with Senator Tim Kaine, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. That resolution is also cosponsored by Senators Durbin, Leahy, Merkley, Blumenthal, and Warren.

I would also like to thank Senator Menendez, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for allowing this resolution to come to the floor.

This resolution is very simple and straightforward. It does not take sides in Brazil's elections. All it does is express the sense of the U.S. Senate that the U.S. Government should make unequivocally clear that the continuing relationship of the United States and Brazil depends upon the commitment of the Government of Brazil to democracy and human rights.

It urges the Biden administration to make clear that the United States will not support any government that comes to power in Brazil through undemocratic means and to ensure that U.S. security assistance to Brazil remains compliant with our laws related to the peaceful and democratic transition of power. This includes longstanding legal restrictions on the provision of security assistance in the event of a military coup.

In my view, it is imperative that the U.S. Senate make it clear through this resolution that we support democracy in Brazil. It would be unacceptable for the United States to recognize a government that came to power undemocratically, and it would send a horrific message to the entire world if we did that.

It is important for the people of Brazil to know we are on their side, on the side of democracy. This resolution sent that message. And I thank my colleagues for supporting it.

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