Following the Senate coup against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and installation of right-wing Vice President Michel Temer, the coup plotters' agenda has become clear.
The Coup That Ousted Brazilian Democracy
The Temer administration is now in the midst of an all-out attack on the country's most progressive social and political achievements, with an all-white, all-male cabinet that is absolutely hostile to the social movements and minority groups of Brazil.
Rousseff's 2014 re-election marked the fourth consecutive victory for the Workers' Party, a fact that did not sit well with the country's right-wing politicians, who immediately started to conspire against the president. That is why her supporters see the impeachment as an effort to retroactively win the election through non-democratic means.
MST Coordinator Joao Pedro Stedile speaks of the rejection there is among social movements against the coup and how they are going to fight back in an interview published on the social movement's website that was originally posted on The Dawn.
MST: Dilma was suspended. What can happen now?
Joao Pedro Stedile: It’s time to mobilize against the coup. A coup with no war tanks, but equally destabilizing: similar to the 2012 coup against Fernando Lugo in Paraguay. Also there, the Vice President, Franco, was the one who promoted the impeachment with no justification. The President has not committed any crime at all and she has been forced out power illegally. Popular organizations have no doubt about that. The working class has no doubt about that. Intellectuals, artists, the progressive church, have no doubt about that. According to the MST and the movements in the Brazil’s Popular Front, Temer-Cunha’s government has no legitimacy because it’s born under the sign of corruption and the return of neoliberalism. We have given the President of the Senate, Renan Calheiros, and the President of the Federal Supreme Court, Ricardo Lewandowski, the equivalent to 3 volumes of signatures against this impeachment process. Meanwhile, we have to gather all the energy we can because a period of struggle and political, social and environmental crisis is coming.
MST: Temer’s government seems to be a copy of Macri’s government in Argentina: full of businessmen, bankers…
Stedile: Temer’s government and his party, the PMDB, are from the elites, the dominant classes who are determined to get their privileges back. In effect, Temer is the Brazilian version of Macri. A vain man who wants to end his political career as President, but his head office is in Washington: that’s where the strings are pulled. In Temer’s government we can find the conservative center, the financial capital and a great arch of vengeful forces, determined to subject State interests to the market.
MST: You have sent a letter to Pope Francis through lawyer Lavenere, who wrote the impeachment against Collor de Mello in 1992. Why? What can the Pope do?
Stedile: The words of Pope Francis, in the interview in which he sent a message to the popular movements, and the words of Marcello Lavenere —former National President of the Brazilian Bar Association and member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Conference of Brazilian Bishops— have been important. Lavenere has explained properly why the impeachment against Dilma has no legal nor constitutional basis. The prosecutor has charged President for two unmotivated administrative infractions, which however don’t provide a basis for a “crime of responsibility”. Finally, the arguments of the accusations are administrative actions of a government and in which the participation is collective; they aren’t wilful acts that can be assigned to the President alone.
It’s evident that the political party of the opposition, strengthened by the powerful media campaign in their favor, have thought of seizing the opportunity of Dilma’s government low popularity rates, with ethics pretexts, which are definitely out of place given the profiles of those who promoted the impeachment. Everyone has their preferences. We prefer fighting for Housing, Land and Work, which are objectives also shared by Pope Francis in the process of the two world meetings with popular movements. And these were also Dilma’s government goals, albeit with limitations and the mistake of making an alliance with the strong and powerful.
The references of the parties that have promoted the impeachment are the elites and the financial powers that are behind them. The middle class raised the flag against corruption, but have judge Sergio Moro as symbol. The problem in Brazil is that we are still one of the most unequal and unjust societies. In this context, in a general crisis — economic, political and environmental — that we are facing, corruption is inherent to the functioning of the voracious bourgeoisie which seeks to take over the public resources to get the maximum benefit for them and their businesses. Corruption is the sign of a systemic crisis, not the cause. To solve it, one process is not enough, but we need a Constitutional assembly that can bring solutions to all the anomalies of these kind of politics.
MST: A group of deputies from right-wing organizations went to Washington before the last elections…
Stedile: Temer will arrange his government in order to allow the U.S. to control our economy through their companies. This has happened with Chevron, which puts pressure through senator Jose Serra, from the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, to reach the privatization of the resources of the ultra-deep waters. Brazil is part of the BRICS, and another goal is that it can reject the South-South alliance. The intention is to corner Venezuela with the same mechanisms to finally end with the term “Bolivarian socialism”. There is a joint strategy carried out to fight against the conquests in Latin America. Our resistance should also be joint.
Fight against the coup in Brazil “From now on, it’s fire against fire.”