Unite against a coup in Brazil
Monday 16th May 2016
MATT WILLGRESS on the desperate need for solidarity with a democracy being shut down in the interests of big capital
DILMA ROUSSEFF’S suspension from office is part of a concerted effort by Brazil’s traditional ruling elite — backed by nearly all the major, corporate-owned media in the country — to reverse the outcome of Brazil’s 2014 presidential elections, which were won by Rousseff as the Workers Party candidate.
This was Rousseff’s second triumph, building on the two previous victories of Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.
In other words it is an attempt at regime change — or as the Brazilian progressive social movements have chosen to term it, a coup. The old Brazilian ruling elite want to wrest back control, something they have not been able to do at the ballot box for 12 years.
At this stage, the chosen method for such regime change is a highly dubious impeachment process, which has widely been seen as politically motivated across Latin America.
As the renowned US analyst of the region Mark Weisbrot puts it: “The charge is that the government used borrowed money in 2014 to maintain the appearance that the primary budget surplus was within its target.
“But this is something that other presidents had done, and is hardly a serious offence. A comparison: When the Republicans in the US Congress threatened to shut down the government over the debt ceiling in 2013, the Obama administration used a number of accounting tricks to extend the deadline, and there was little controversy over this.”
It is also important to note that Rousseff is not the only target of Brazil’s right wing.
Many believe that the right wants to not only undermine and ultimately overthrow the incumbent, elected president, but also her potential successor too.
Former president and Workers Party leader Lula da Silva has not only been a fervent supporter of Rousseff — his influence was decisive during the 2014 presidential elections — but also remains hugely popular and was thought of as likely to return as the Workers Party’s presidential candidate at the next elections.
He is currently a victim of a relentless smear campaign and has hit out at critics trying to tarnish his name, saying: “They are punching below the belt, there is a project in play to destroy me and our legacy.”
As they have hit the streets in impressive numbers to defend democracy and Dilma, social movements have also rallied against the attacks on Lula.
One such movement, the Popular Front, has also drawn attention to much of the media for their “criminal and manipulative” handling of the broader story around the crisis and the accompanying attempt to smear Lula, saying as early as February that “the Brazil Popular Front will not accept the coup-mongering and anti-democratic stance that both sectors of the judicial branch and the mainstream media try to impose on the Brazilian people.”
It’s vital to recognise that the international background and regional context to this sustained right-wing offensive against Brazil’s elected president includes an increased US offensive to regain its historical “backyard” from the wave of left and centre-left governments that have been elected in Latin America in recent years.
In the case of Brazil, as far back as 2005 the US supported a legislative effort aimed at undermining the Workers Party government. There has also been massive spying on Brazil —and especially Petrobras, the state-controlled oil company — which was exposed by the brave work of Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden in 2013.
And the biggest players in the right wing’s attempt at regime change, including the former presidential candidates Jose Serra and Aecio Neves, are strong allies of the US government.
National sovereignty — as well as democracy and even the hope of further social progress — is at threat here. It is not so long ago that Brazil lived under vicious, right-wing dictatorship.
Installed in a US-backed coup in 1964, the dictatorship lasted until 1985. Both Lula and Rousseff became national leaders against the odds, having previously faced jail and repression.
Now, the people of Brazil deserve our solidarity in their mass resistance aimed at allowing them to determine their own leaders and future.
Matt Willgress is one of the editors of the No Coup in Brazil social media initiative here in Britain. You can follow on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/nocoupinbrazil and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/nocoupinbrazil.
On Monday May 23 at 6.30pm at Unite the Union, 128 Theobald’s Road, London, WC1X 8TN you can join an emergency rally — No to the Coup in Brazil — Democracy SOS! with speakers from the Brazilian Workers Party, Democracy for Brazil, the Stop the War Coalition and more. Information and register here.