Global Independent Analytics
Pedro Marin
Pedro Marin

Location: Brazil

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Brazil: An introduction to a divided country

There’s a growing tension in the top economy of Latin America, home of unmeasurable natural resources.

Since last year the usually widely-supported Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) is facing a growing oppositionist movement, whose protests simply made the news from nowhere, bringing to the streets thousands of protesters and forming a Tropical version of McCarthyism.

Of course, PT bases worry about a potential US-supported coup d’état or a color revolution. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The radical left, in its turn, makes a terrible mistake by ignoring the potential threat. This radical sector would argue that the government already contributed to both US imperialism and the national bourgeoisie. Indeed, that’s a fact in some scale – and that’s the problem. Despite the government’s efforts to please foreign players, it’s a fact that a country with so many resources like Brazil, which is a member of BRICS and a key partner to China, may be on the US blacklist. There is a growing tension between the US and Russia, and many have been talking about a revival of the Cold War. Also, there’s a very specific fact that should taken into account: Not a single American company participated in Pre-salt’s auctions, although at the time it had the estimated capability to produce 3.4 billion barrels of oil and 174 billion cubic meters of gas.

According to documents leaked by Wikileaks, the former presidential right-center candidate José Serra promised Chevron in 2009 to change the Pre-salt laws – that turn the Brazilian oil company Petrobras into the chief-operator- in case he got elected. After Dilma’s victory, Senator Serra kept struggling to change the law. Also according to the documents, the US consulate in Brazil said Pre-salt could make Brazil an important global player – which is very disturbing, considering that the US 4th fleet has been reactivated in 2008, along with its 15 thousand troops. Plus, it’s important to remember President’s Lula government opposed Bush’s proposal to establish a Free Trade Area of the Americas – although Lula’s harsh words got a little softer within the next months.

Also, the idea that governments who collaborate with the US in some scale won’t be overthrown is simply wrong, as history shows. Just remember Panama’s former President and CIA employee Manuel Noriega, Egypt’s Mubarak or Argentina’s Isabelita Perón.

Independence of death

Mao Tse Tung, in one of his brightest moments, once said that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Former guerilla fighter during the 1960’s, President Dilma Roussef should know this. By ignoring her campaign promises and rhetoric, Dilma seems to think it’s better to live on her knees than die standing.

Her large and passionate speeches about former candidate’s Aecio Neves perspectives – which included placing in the Ministry of Economy the former George Soros’ employee Armínio Fraga – have been buried by her actions. The so-called change turned into a copy of Aécio’s proposals. Instead of Fraga, now we have the Chicago boy Joaquim Levy – who is a personal friend of Armínio Fraga and has also been praised by Aécio.

One may think that it is peculiar. The thing is we’re in Latin America, where reality and fiction blend, and everything is possible, the real and therefore also the kind of bizarre. Of course, the opposition wouldn’t be happy with either Dilma’s promises or her current economic choices. They want her to bleed. (That’s not merely a narrative of license taken by the author of this article. Senator Aloisio Nunes said it earlier this year. As I said, stranger than fiction).

The tactics are clear: the opposition embraces organizations asking for Dilma’s impeachment. The President, in her desperate solitude, bends her government and adopts terrible economic measures. In a vicious circle, the austerity policies kill the government’s popularity.

Moreover, Dilma has to deal both with Lava Jato, - who is probing into a corruption scandal in Brazil’s oil company Petrobras - and with a rampant economic crisis. This is the engine of the media’s crusade against Dilma, and therefore, the engine for these movements’ popularity.

And here is a key thing to notice about Brazil’s situation: like in every political movement, all pro-impeachment militants don’t think equally. Although these are neoliberal-oriented movements, it seems that most people who adhere to them don’t have much political experience, nor do they fully understand what’s at stake.

First, there are those whose hate towards Dilma is motivated purely by an odd kind of class-hate. Since Workers Party got into power in 2003, there have been numerous welfare programs. Bolsa Família, for instance, aims to reduce misery by giving the extremely poor people money, as long as they keep their children healthy and in school. Prouni aims to increase poor people’s entrance into universities; the government pays their fees. Despite the increase in earnings these programs had in the private market (private universities started to pop-up everywhere for instance, and there are huge education monopolies now), the fact that poor people were getting access to certain things started to anger a portion of the Brazilian middle-class. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Datafolha on August 17 – when about 135 thousand people went to the streets of São Paulo calling for the President’s impeachment – 76% of the protesters had higher education, and 14% of them had a monthly family income of up to 3 minimum wages, 13%- 3-5 times the minimum wage, 25%-  5 to 10 times the minimum wage, 25% - 10-20 times the minimum wage, and 17%- a minimum of 20 times the minimum wage. Just so you could have an idea of who these people were, here’s another number by Datafolha: 69% of São Paulo residents have a monthly family income of up to 5 minimum wages.

But it’s a mistake to think that only the middle-class is angry with Dilma. The President currently has the worst approval rating in the entire history of the country: only 8% think this is a good government, 20% find it acceptable and 71% say it’s either bad or terrible, and according to a survey from August this year, 66% support the impeachment process.

How did we get here? The Worker’s Party Odyssey

The Worker’s Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores - PT) is Brazil’s second biggest party. It was founded in 1980, when Brazilians still lived under the military dictatorship. The party was an assembly of left-wing intellectuals, workers and unionists, created to fill the vacuum left by 20 years of repression against the communist organizations and guerrilla fighters and therefore had a broad mass of workers under its influence. That hasn’t changed much. The party leads the Unique Central of Workers (CUT), and has a great leverage on the Landless Worker’s Movement (MST), as well as control over dozens of unions.

Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, a former leader of the steelworkers of São Bernardo do Campo and Diadema and the top founder of the Workers Party, was first elected as President in 2003. His government is known for reducing poverty and unemployment, as well as boosting the economy. But there are essential contradictions which, I believe, help explain why things are the way they are now.

Firstly, Lula got into power with a minority in Brazil’s Parliament, resulting in alliances with right-wing parties such as PMDB and PP. There’s no such a thing as free meal, they say, and PT had to give them Ministries and give up on certain promises. This resulted in a growing disillusion among the party’s bases, especially among the most leftist militants.

The party also got involved with corruption scandals such as Mensalão. But back then that seemed alright for most people, as Brazil kept growing, and the living standards kept getting better. Even during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Lula managed to keep his approval rates growing, as he increased the public investment and the minimum wage and reduced taxes.

But then the 2012 crisis hit us hard: just for kicks, the trade balance, which had closed-up in 2011 with a positive balance of $29.7 billion, decreased in 2012 by about $10 billion. In 2013, we had a positive balance of $2.5 billion, until we finally closed it with a negative balance of $3.9 billion in 2013. And now the government had announced severe cuts in public investment, which will affect social programs. As a result, besides the neoliberal movements, the radical left is also strongly opposing the government, and the number of strikes has been growing. Even leaders of the Unique Central of Workers and the Landless Workers Movement have opposed these measures.

Contradictions of a Dependent Economy

Brazil is the fifth biggest country in the world, and the main economy of South America. The “country of the future” as it’s known, is a key producer of soy, coffee, orange, minerals, oil and meat. Most of these products are exported as raw materials (47%), and 36% are exported as manufactured products.

But it’s no bed of roses, of course. Family farming – which have small portions of land - produce 70% of all food consumed internally and according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations (FAO), family farming are responsible for 77% of the sector’s jobs. In contrast, 40% of the big properties are nonproductive, and only 24.3% of rural areas are family farms. That means that the smallest properties are the heart of Brazil’s internal production. This is an absurd contradiction.

Nowadays, in the middle of a severe crisis and with world’s second biggest interest rates, Brazil’s economic problems don’t seem to be a trouble for the banks. In fact, in an economy with a 6% retreat in industry and a 2.7% decrease in commerce, Brazil’s four biggest banks have seen their profits grow by 40%, in comparison with last year’s gains.

What’s next? – Author’s opinion

Dilma won’t be impeached, not for now. It’s better for the opposition that she damages both her own and the Workers Party reputation, by applying the same program they would.

The only one who could change this is Lula. The former President has already stated he will step in the 2018’s elections “if necessary” and, letting aside his rejection rates (55% say there is no way they’d vote for him), the surveys show that Lula is still the most popular candidate (23% say they definitely would vote for him, only 15% say the same about the former candidate Aécio Neves). Plus, Lula is a political genius. He is known for something we call “putting in posts”, which means his image is capable of electing unknown candidates. This was the case of Dilma, for instance. In 2008, about 48% of all Brazilians didn’t know who she was and within two years, Dilma would be elected with 47% of the votes, after receiving Lula’s support.

In case the opposition does not manage to smear Lula, they will have to break Dilma down. And here are the results of the last two times something similar happened: 1964; President João Goulart was hit by a US-supported coup d’etat and rightwing hardliners implemented a military dictatorship that lasted from 21 years.  In 1954, President Getúlio Vargas put a bullet in his heart, causing popular commotion and thus delaying the military coup. Getúlio learned Mao’s lesson, and died standing. Goulart decided to stand on his knees, in exile, leaving the devils in power.

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