Global Independent Analytics
Pedro Marin
Pedro Marin

Location: Brazil

Specialization: Latin America, Ukraine, North Korea

Brazil: After the coup, the struggle

The impeachment against President Dilma Rousseff was finally approved by the lower house of the Congress last Sunday. But in its sick pursue power, the Brazilian opposition is digging its own grave by cowardly lying to the people.

It was a complete freak show. Deputies from all over the country voted in favor of President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment in the name of combating corruption - even though she hasn’t committed any crime at all, and even though many of them face corruption investigations of their own - including the Chamber of Deputies’ House Speaker, Eduardo Cunha, who led the impeachment voting and is currently being investigated by the Supreme Court for being part of a corruption scandal within Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras and having secret bank accounts in Switzerland.

In front of the Congress, in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, thousands of pro and anti-impeachment protesters, divided by a giant and very symbolic steel wall, watched the deputies carefully. The same went on in most of the homes in Brazil, as the voting was broadcasted on national television. While those who voted ‘No’ took it as a chance to dedicate their votes to historical figures such as guerrilla fighters Carlos Marighella and Captain Carlos Lamarca - who fought against the military dictatorship during the 60’s and 70’s - those who voted ‘Yes’ did so in honor of their relatives, children and grandchildren, their churches and torturers such as Col. Brilhante Ustra, somebody known for beating women until their skin “turned blue” in front of their children in order to get some information during the military dictatorship - an obvious provocation, as Dilma Rousseff herself, was tortured during the dictatorship.

On an article entitled “Brazil sends in the clowns to vote on Rousseff impeachment,” Tom Hennigan, at The Irish Times, says the deputies conducted themselves “with all the decorum of drunken fans at a football match.” I’d say hooligans have a way stronger moral sense.

Letting the clowns aside for a moment, now it’s up to the Brazilian Senate to decide whether Dilma must be impeached or not. 41 out of 81 senators must vote ‘Yea’ to move the President away from her chair. If they do so, the Supreme Court will then rule over the proceedings - but by then the government will be done, as Dilma would be suspended from the Presidency for six months while vice-President Michel Temer holds her seat. Although the government is stronger in the Senate than in the lower house, it seems it will be approved there too. According to the newspaper Estadão, 44 senators have already said they will vote for the impeachment.

Picture by Pedro Marin (C) 2016

Is it a coup?

Unlike many even in Brazil believe, President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment has nothing to do with corruption. Rousseff is accused of fiscal maneuvering (pedaladas fiscais), which means she postponed the payment of R$3.5 billion (about 1 billion dollars) to Brazil’s state bank Banco do Brasil for social programs. The bank then had to use its funds to pay for the programs, and the government later paid the bill. The opposition argues that by doing so, the banks were in fact lending money to the government, which would be a crime of responsibility - the only reason why a President may be impeached in Brazil.

“To postpone a payment isn’t getting a loan. If I fail to pay an electricity bill, for instance, it doesn’t mean I got a loan with the electricity company. It’s only a delay in payment”, argues Pedro Serrano, a professor of law at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP).

Also, to be considered a crime of responsibility, the President had to do so knowing it was a crime - which hasn’t been proved. In fact, the Brazilian Federal Court of Auditors hasn’t even ruled over the fiscal maneuvering moves - which means nobody knows if it was in any sense illegal, let alone if it was a crime of responsibility.

As if these points weren’t enough to make it look like the whole impeachment proceedings are in fact a coup d’etat, Vice President Michel Temer, who will take the President seat in case Dilma is impeached, signed the fiscal maneuvering act himself as well, and so did former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in 2000 and 2001 and other 17 governors recently, none of whom were accused of any crime at all.

Picture by Pedro Marin (C) 2016

The coup, its puppets, and its masters

There is no doubt the coup has many faces. But in a bizarre version of House of Cards, VP Michel Temer has managed to come up through the ranks like a professional con man. Temer, who was born in 1940, has a degree in law. He first got into politics working for Ataliba Nogueira, then Secretary of Education of the highly-known corrupt mayor of São Paulo, Ademar de Barros. In 1987 he was first elected to the House of Representatives, a job to which he got re-elected five more times, being elected as the House Speaker in 1997, 1999 and 2009. He was PMDB’s (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) President from 2001 to 2011 when he left the position to become VP.

But Temer has never been a big fan of the Workers’ Party (PT). In a cable from 2006, leaked by Wikileaks in 2011, the Consul General of the United States in Brazil states that “The PMDB remains split almost evenly between the pro- and anti-Lula groups.  The former seeks alliances with the PT and hopes for several Ministries in Lula's second administration. Temer, who is anti-Lula, was highly critical of the pro-Lula faction and commented wryly over some of the party's internal contradictions and divisions.”

Most recently, Temer has shown that all these years in politics were not for nothing. On December last year, he sent Dilma a letter saying he was disappointed by the fact he was a “decorative VP.” The letter, said Temer, was supposed to be read by the President only, but it somehow got leaked. Last week, another message from Temer was strangely leaked. It was an audio record of him preparing a speech in case he took the Presidency.

On April 16, a day before the impeachment was to be voted, Temer, who was supposed to stay home in São Paulo, traveled back to Brasília - of course, to make sure everyone would vote as he wished.

How did we get to this point?

Brazil faced giant protests in 2013, known as the “Journeys of June.” The protests were against the bus fare hikes in various cities across Brazil and were attended mostly by small left-wing organizations. After the police brutally beat protesters in São Paulo, the movement grew - and the media seized the opportunity. What had begun as a movement against the businessmen who profit from the bus fare turned into an “anti-corruption” middle-class movement driven by the corporate media. Protesters attacked left-wing militants and raided the Federal Government headquarters. Even right-wing extremists took to the streets.

That showed it was possible to attack the government from the streets. Pro-impeachment organizations emerged in 2015, after the elections, funded by American neocon think-tanks such as Atlas Network. These movements played a key role by taking to the streets and creating a pro-impeachment atmosphere in the Brazil. There wouldn’t be a coup without them. Also, the privately owned Globo media giant aggressively broadcasted the news for Dilma’s impeachment as if corruption started with PT and is new to Brazil.

Picture by Pedro Marin (C) 2016

Losing the saddle… and the horse

The fact is that those who supported the coup have dug their graves. Indeed, the people aren’t happy about Dilma’s government, but vice-President Michel Temer pro-market plans aren’t any better. In a document entitled “A bridge to the future,” Mr. Temer and his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) make it crystal clear what they want to do about the crisis: to make the people pay for it, even more than Dilma’s disastrous economic policies did.

The document states that it is necessary to cut social programs, to change the labor law (to reduce the workers’ rights), pursue “international partnerships” (within Mercosul or not) and cut government spending. It is a neoliberal agenda for Brazil, which will only bring poverty and result in turmoil in the streets. The Workers’ Party bases - the Unique Central of Workers (CUT) and the Landless’ Workers’ Movement (MST), not to mention other smaller organizations and numerous trade unions, will not just sit around - nor will the majority of the Brazilian people who hasn’t taken to the streets yet. There’s no doubt that Brazil is entering dark times. But the night must fall before the dawn breaks in a new day. As the leader of the Homeless’ Workers’ Movement (MTST), Guilherme Boulos, has put it: They’ve won on the carpet. Let’s see how they do on asphalt.

Picture by Pedro Marin (C) 2016

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