Global Independent Analytics
Pedro Marin
Pedro Marin

Location: Brazil

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Dilma was toppled not for confronting austerity measures, but because she didn’t apply

Exclusive interview with Brazilian Homeless Workers’ Movement Leader Guilherme Boulos

The Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST - Movimento dos Trabalhadores SemTeto) is one of Brazil’s most important social movements nowadays. Originating in São Paulo, the movement has branches in various states like Roraima, Minas Gerais, Ceará and Rio de Janeiro.

Leading this movement - whose members are poor workers who can’t afford to rent a house in Brazil’s metropolises - is Guilherme Boulos, a 34 years old philosopher who left his middle-class home 13 years ago to organize the poor and live in São Paulo’s periphery. Known for his strong stand and for organizing huge demonstrations in Brazil’s most important city, Boulos sat with Global Independent Analytics’ Pedro Marin for a one-on-one interview on May 24.

Photo by Pedro Martin (C) All Rights Reserved 2016

Can you comment on Dilma's government, as well as on Temer's latest measures? Why was Dilma toppled?

To understand Dilma's second government we have to understand the economic and political scenario she faced. These 13 years of Workers' Party governments represent a pact, first signed by [former] President Lula, and through this past the conservative structures of the Brazilian society were maintained, the privileges weren't confronted but at the same time there were some gains for the floor below, for the workers, for the poorest people. That happened through social programs, credit policies, wage increases, as well as unemployment reduction.

Such a pact worked for a while, through budget management. So they didn't reform anything, they didn't change, for instance, the tax system or the public debt, but through economic growth, they managed the budget. The problem is that it depended on a certain rate of economic growth. After the crisis in 2008,  conditions began to deteriorate, and it became harder to afford the pact; it was impossible for everybody to keep gaining, so the government had to make cuts somewhere.

That was the main issue during 2014 elections. There were two options; either making the cuts in the top floor, taxing the wealthy, reforming the tax system, confronting the public debt, lowering the interest rate, or applying a neoliberal austerity policy, which is the most common prescription to deal with an economic crisis: cutting social programs, cutting workers’ rights.

Unfortunately, although she signaled otherwise during the campaign, President Dilma, once in office, applied the austerity policy. And that was disastrous for her government because that put an end to the government's popularity and created a sense of betrayal. That created the social basis for the coup and allowed the putschists to go further.

So she was toppled, unfortunately, not for confronting the [austerity] policy, but because of, by their reckoning, not applying it sufficiently. They then toppled her because their agenda couldn't wait until the elections in 2018. It wasn't an agenda of gradual attacks; they wanted - and that is very clear now - a program to attack everything here and now: to devastate workers’ rights,  pensioners' rights,  social programs. They want to regress 30 years, the 1988 Constitution for them is an obstacle. It was urgent for them to do so, to increase profit, and that's what they are doing now.

It seems that the Homeless Workers’ Movement is especially targeted for repression these days. The Ministry of Justice, for instance, even said, after the movement blocked various roads, that such actions are “guerrilla actions.” Most recently you were attacked by the police near President Michel Temer’s house, in São Paulo, during a demonstration. What do you think about that? Is there an increase of repression?

Of course, the illegitimate government's initial moves are towards increasing  repression. We have to analyze it this way: if they want to implement a program of destruction of social rights, a program of unprecedented retrogression in the recent history of Brazil, a government that wants to apply such policies will face intense popular demonstrations daily. This government has the policy of refusing to respond to such popular claims.

What's left for such a government? The only thing left is repression, criminalization, and it seems that they will head in that direction. They've shown it already - the fact that Alexandre de Moraes was appointed to the Ministry of Justice, for instance... in his first speech he identified the social movements as criminal [organizations], so certainly we will have an escalation of the criminalization and repression against social movements.

What's ironically unfortunate is that they will do so by using a tool provided by Dilma's government, which is the anti-terrorist law. Dilma’s government played a deplorable role in this by proposing and signing - even though with some vetoes which will now be revised - the anti-terrorist law, which will be used to criminalize the social struggle.

Photo by Pedro Martin (C) All Rights Reserved 2016

And how will MTST respond to that?

The response will be intensifying the mobilization. If they think that they will stop the people's struggle with threats, repression, assaults, water guns, armored vehicles or bombs... well, that's an illusion. An illusion of those who don't know the people's resistance. The repression may create a little gap between attack and defense, but then a chain reaction of revolt will come - we've seen it in June 2013, we've seen it numerous times through history. To think that with nightsticks they can stop the demand for social struggle is foolish, and will get them into trouble. So our mobilization will only intensify.

Photo by Pedro Martin (C) All Rights Reserved 2016

The MTST was clearly against Dilma's economic policies, but at the same time was against the impeachment. How did the masses within the movement deal with this contradictory policy?

Our followers understand it very clearly. And such understanding was confirmed in the first ten days of Temer's putschist government. Those who used to say that "they are all the same," I don't know where they will hide now. They used to say that "there is no coup at all, Dilma's government already represents the right-wing."  But just take a look at the measures announced this morning.

It is evident that Dilma's government adopted an anti-popular agenda, which by the way gave a social base for the coup. She applied the agenda that was defeated on the ballot, in 2014. But one didn't need much to realize what was coming with the coup. The attempt to overthrow Dilma's government wasn't driven by the anti-popular measures she took, but because they thought such measures weren't enough, they thought that far more bitter and unpopular measures were needed. It's clear when you think of who supported the coup, who funded it, which sectors funded it: the mainstream media, the parliamentary swamp, the financial elite, the business elite. So it was clear that the coup would come our way with a series of brutal retrogressions, a 30 years step back - and they thought that the Workers' Party wouldn't take such measures and thus they wanted a "pure blooded" government. That's why they've carried this coup.

So we understand that the most coherent stand that could be taken in this scenario was to confront Dilma's unpopular measures but at the same time understand the differences between that and Temer's even more destructive agenda. So people understood it - and those who didn't are now realizing it - especially our supporters, because Temer's first measure was to cancel a contract agreement to build 12,000 houses.

Photo by Pedro Martin (C) All Rights Reserved 2016

These austerity measures announced today come after Planning Minister Romero Jucá was removed after a tape was leaked in which he suggested that it was necessary to overthrow Dilma to make Car Wash Operation stop. It also comes after Temer took a step back regarding the Ministry of Culture after artists demonstrated nationwide against the Ministry's closure. Do you think that the kind of action the social movements are taking today will be enough to block this government or even topple it?

That will depend on whom we can get out on the streets. Only the already organized sectors of the social movements are capable of doing that. We can do great demonstrations as we have been doing, to block the coup - but that isn't enough. We have to bring people who didn't take sides yet - especially the people from the periphery, the country's working masses. They didn't take a stand yet in this political scenario - neither for the coup, dressed in yellow nor against it, in red.

Our capability to block the brutal attacks that are now presented will depend on bringing the masses to the streets and into the resistance.

What's the movement's stand on new elections?

Look, we believe that we need to build a way out, as well as proposals that are capable of bringing together wider sectors of the population. So we think that advocating new elections in the face of the putschist government, indirectly elected by the parliament, may be a way out.

But we value the unity of the social movements. And the fact is that such a proposal, at this moment, isn’t approved by the majority of Brazil's social movements. Thus we are demonstrating - we will take part, through the Fearless' People Front (Frente Povo Sem Medo), as well as with the Popular Brazil Front (Frente Brasil Popular), in joint demonstrations in June, with the motto "Out, Temer", "No to the Coup" and "No to the cuts on rights", and we will hold a dialog about this possible way out with other sectors. We will not stand with a proposal that can create divisions within the popular, democratic and left-wing sectors that are resisting the coup and that are standing against the illegitimate government.

 

All Photos by Pedro Martin (C) All Rights Reserved 2016

HASHTAGS

POPULAR ARTICLES

Not Found

OPINION

Vladimir Golstein

Vladimir Golstein

The Danderous Acceptance of Donald Trump

James N. Green

James N. Green

Politics in Brazil: Fasten Your Seat Belts!

Barbara H. Peterson

Barbara H. Peterson

Health officials confirm spread of Zika virus through sexual contact in Texas, first in US

Danny Haiphong

Danny Haiphong

WHY IS OTTO(SUPER)MAN ERDOGAN LOSING HIS CHARISMA?

Miray Aslan

Miray Aslan

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Navid Nasr

Navid Nasr

How relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran reached a breaking point

Writers

chief editor

Joshua Tartakovsky

Analysis should serve as a method to better understand our world, not to obscure it.

Materials: 42

Specialization: Israel and the Middle East, US politics

Materials: 7

Specialization: Balkans, NATO and EU policies, Strategic communications

Materials: 3

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Materials: 2

Specialization: Political Science, Social Anthropology

Materials: 3

Specialization: Eastern Europe

Materials: 14

Specialization: Industrial Safety, Corporations

Materials: 12

Specialization: Eastern Europe, Labor movement

Materials: 3

Specialization: American history, way of life, and principles

Danielle Ryan

Ireland

Materials: 10

Specialization: US foreign policy, US-Russia relations and media bias

Materials: 20

Specialization: War, Racism, Capitalist exploitation, Civil rights

Materials: 8

Specialization: Modern Japanese History, Modern Chinese History, Military History, History of Counterinsurgency, History of Disobedience, Dynamics of Atrocities in Wartime

Dovid Katz

Lithuania

Materials: 3

Specialization: Holocaust Revisionism and Geopolitics; East European Far Right & Human Rights; Yiddish Studies & Litvak Culture

Materials: 20

Specialization: History, Catalunya, Spain, Geopolitics, Nationalism in Europe, Islamization, Immigration

Materials: 5

Materials: 3

Specialization: migration, international relations

Materials: 1

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy and strategies, BRICS/SCO

Materials: 19

Specialization: Balkans, Yugoslavia

Materials: 10

Specialization: Jihadist Groups, Islamic Terrorism, Global Security

Materials: 4

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 4

Specialization: Media and government relations

Materials: 2

Specialization: Latin America, Brazil

Jay Watts

Canada

Materials: 2

Specialization: History, Marxism-Leninism, Imperialism, Anti-imperialism.

Materials: 2

Specialization: International Relations, Sociology, Geostrategy

Materials: 1

Specialization: civil rights

Lionel Baland

Belgium

Materials: 22

Specialization: Euroscepticism, Patriotic parties of Europe

Maram Susli

Australia

Materials: 3

Specialization: Geopolitics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights, Racism, US politics

Materials: 1

Specialization: geopolitics, economics

Max J. Schindler

Palestine-Israel

Materials: 9

Specialization: Politics

Miray Aslan

Turkey

Materials: 12

Specialization: Media, Politics

Materials: 5

Specialization: Politics, International relations

Navid Nasr

Croatia

Materials: 13

Specialization: Global security, Politics

Materials: 9

Specialization: Development of European Union, Non-governmental organizations, Politics and economics in Baltic States

Materials: 9

Specialization: Greece, Crisis of the US hegemony; Israel / Occupied Palestine, Oppression of Black people in the US

Materials: 4

Specialization: geopolitics, Russia, USSR

Pedro Marin

Brazil

Materials: 17

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Materials: 13

Specialization: Sustainable development, International relations, Comparative European politics, European integration, Eastern European politics and EU-Russia relations

Materials: 8

Specialization: Politics

Materials: 16

Specialization: Counterterrorist Finance

Seyit Aldogan

Greece

Materials: 3

Specialization: ISIS, Middle East, Globalization, Migrant crisis

Materials: 1

Specialization: Head of "Srebrenica Historical Project"

Materials: 3

Specialization: Economy, Social politics

Stevan Gajic

Serbia

Materials: 1

Specialization: Full time researcher at the Institute for European Studies

Materials: 5

Specialization: Geopolitics, Geoeconomics

Materials: 2

Specialization: Civil rights

Tobias Nase

Germany

Materials: 8

Specialization: Syria, US Foreign policy, Ukraine

Valerijus Simulik

Lithuania

Materials: 2

Specialization: Politics and economics in Baltic States, education and science, non - governmental organizations, globalization and EU

Van Gelis

Greece

Materials: 17

Specialization: Middle East

Materials: 1

Specialization: Kosovo, Serbia, Belgrad bombing

Materials: 5

Specialization: international relations, Russia

toTop