Ten Things the World Needs to Know About the Crisis in Brazil

Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Dilma Rousseff. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

It is necessary to warn all Brazilians, to inform them in a clear and objective way, so that even the waterfalls of the San Francisco River can understand, that:

1.The demand for the destitution of President Dilma Rousseff has nothing to do with the Lava Jato operation (‘Operation Car Wash’)nor with any other initiative to combat corruption. Dilma is not accused of having robbed even one cent. The pretext used by opposition politicians to try to displace her from government is the so-called “fiscal makeup”, a procedure of management of the public budget that is routine at all levels of government – federal, state and municipal – and was adopted under the mandates of Fernando Enrique Cardoso and Lula without any problem. She simply put money from the Federal Caixa Econômica into social programmes, in order to close the accounts and the following year returned the money to the Caixa. There was no personal benefit involved and even her worst enemies are not able to accuse her of any act of corruption.

2.Precisely for this reason, the request for impeachment is a coup, since the president can only be removed from power if she is shown to have committed a crime – and this crime has not happened, to the point where Dilma’s name has been excluded from all the investigations of corruption, since there does not exist even a minimal suspicion against her.

3.Contrary to Dilma, the politicians who seek her impeachment are dirtier than a chicken roost. Eduardo Cunha (PDMB-RJ), who as president of the chamber of deputies is responsible for this process of impeachment, received more than R$ 52 million from Petrobras corruption alone and allegedly holds millions in deposits in secret accounts in Switzerland and other tax havens. In the parliamentary committee that will analyse the request for impeachment, 37 of the 65 members (more than half!) are under judicial investigation for corruption. If they succeed in impeaching the president, they hope to receive, in exchange, impunity for fraud committed.

4.The campaign for impeachment is being led by the PSDB, the opposition party defeated in the presidential elections of 2014. Their candidate, Aecio Neves, hopes to attain in the process the political result that he was incapable of achieving at the ballot boxes, disrespecting the vote of 54,499,901 Brazilians who voted for Dilma (3.4% more than those who voted for Aecio in the second round).

5.If the coup is successful, the opposition will apply all the authoritarian and elitist proposals that Aecio planned to implement if he had won the election. The putschist president would almost certainly change labour legislation, to the detriment of wage earners; revoke the policy of indexing the minimum wage; implement the out-sourcing of labour without restriction; hand over the pre-salt petroleum reserves to transnational corporations (as defended by Senator José Serra); privatise the Bank of Brazil and the Federal Caixa Econômica; introduce paid education in federal universities, as a first step towards their privatisation; suppress social movements and freedom of expression on the Internet; expel the Cubans who work in the Más Médicos (More Doctors) Programme; give a green light for agri-business to seize indigenous lands; and eliminate independent foreign policy, downgrading Brazil to the role of servant of the US. It is this, much more than the mandate of Dilma or the political future of Lula, that is at stake in the battle of impeachment.

6.It is a major deceit to think that the economy will improve after a change in the presidency of the republic. All the factors that brought the country to the present crisis will continue, with various aggravating factors. Political instability will be the rule. The leaders of the present coup campaign will struggle for power like piranhas after a piece of meat. And Dilma will be replaced by a weak figure, Michael Temer (currently vice-president), who is more interested in ensuring his future (presumably a place in the Supreme Federal Tribunal) and in protecting himself from accusations of corruption, than in being able to govern effectively. Inflation will continue to rise, as will unemployment.

7.At the political level, Brazil is submerged in a chaotic period of great instability. The overthrow of an elected president sanctified by the vote, would bring the country to a point where, for the first time since the military regime, the executive will be an illegitimate leader, rejected by a great part of society.

8.Conflict will be the tone on the social scene. Fascist tendencies, inflamed by the coup, will feel free to put into practice their violent impulses, symbolically expressed in the images of hanging dolls bearing the caps of the MST (Landless Workers Movement) or the star of the PT (Workers Party) and, in a more concrete manner, in the invasions and attacks against unions and political parties, in savage attacks against people whose only crime is to wear a red shirt. The leader of this extreme right current, the Deputy Jair Bolsonaro, has already openly defended, in one of the demonstrations in favour of impeachment, that every big landowner should carry a rifle to shoot militants of the MST.

9.The trade unions and social movements will not stand with their arms crossed in the face of the belligerence of the right, and the offence of government and business bosses against social rights won over the past two decades. They will resist in every way – strikes, land occupations, blocking highways, occupying buildings and much more. Brazil will become a torn country, on account of the irresponsibility and the boundless ambition of a half dozen politicians who are incapable of coming to power by the popular vote. This is what awaits us if the coup against Dilma is consummated.

10.But this will not happen. The mobilisation of citizens in defence of legality and of democracy is growing, with the adhesion of more and more people and movements, independent of their political affiliation, religious beliefs or whether or not they support government policy. The opinion each of us holds about the PT or the Dilma government is no longer what is important. What is at stake is democracy, respect for the result of the ballots and the constitutional norms that prohibit the application of a political trial without the existence of a crime that would justify such an extreme measure. More and more Brazilians are aware of this and are in the streets against the putschists. This March 31, democratic resistance will engage in a decisive battle.

The participation of all, in every corner of Brazil, is essential.  We must all be in the streets, in defence of legality, of the Constitution and of social rights. All together! Fascism will not succeed! There will be no coup!

Igor Fuser is Professor of International Relations in the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), Santo Andre, Sao Paulo, Brazil.. 

(Translated by Jordan Bishop for ALAI)

  • L0B0MaL

    NO wonder about her low popularity!

    The moral obligation of any political leader, is not to leave any stone unturned for improving:
    A:the Quality of Life and
    B:the Standard of Living of the population.
    The Brazilian President managed exactly the opposite. Considering that; 10% popularity seems quite impressive!

    Secondly; the responsibility of a Leader is to lead, to govern and to administer well – amongst many other leadership traits. Whereas Rouseff has not only shown a total lack of such abilities – without efficiency & competence – she also openly admitted it by justifying that Brazil needs the former president in the Govt. to handle the crisis [economic & political].

    If she is incompetent and If the above mentioned is a crime; she should not keep occupying The Chair – with or without impeachment.

  • Redmond

    Many of Brazil’s economic problems, like the drop in trade with China and the collapse of world oil prices, are beyond Dilma or anybody else’s control. There is no “Brazilian White Knight” to ride to that country’s rescue! The legislative, executive, and judicial branches in Brazil are all stained by long-standing corruption! Corruption occurs across the political spectrum, and at all levels, and has been endemic long before Lula or Dilma arrived! Brazil’s economy has not been this bad in 100 years. It has a disastrous pension policy, that is a “political third rail”, that no politician will touch! That will only make matters even worse. Inflation, unemployment, crime, Zika, social inequality, racial prejudice, and numerous other problems are stoking political unrest. (The impeachment process, whether successful or not, will be protracted and marked by violent protests from the “Left” and “Right”! Tourist revenue will drop precipitously when the strikes begin!) Who is Brazil’s political savior? The current president (Dilma), the runner-up (Aecio), the vice-president (Michel), the speaker (Eduardo), the Senate leader (Renan), the ambitious judge (Sérgio), et cetera? They are all under massive “cloud’s of suspicion” or active criminal investigation. (They hypocritically complain about Lula potentially getting special judicial handling, when most of them currently have access to it!?) Maybe, the special interest funded, ex-pat, political agitator in Miami (Rodrigo) will be our hero? Oh that’s right, he moved from Rio because it was “too violent and with many, many poor people”. ( Poor Baby!! Maybe he feels it is better to run from, rather than face problems??) Meanwhile, currency, commodity, and stock market speculators are feeding naive investors with “dreams” of a political miracle via impeachment. (They plan on making a quick profit before the BRL and Brazilian Stock Market further “crash” in value. One Real is “actually worth” about 20 cents; however, like the Brazilian Stock Market its value is being inflated. June will be the month of the “implosion” because of what’s going to happen in Brasilia & D.C.!!!!) Unfortunately, the people of Brazil will “pay the duck”, i.e., suffer further for other peoples despicable behavior! Why? Because nothing will really change with a legislative “coup”. Brazilian leaders, currency, commodity, and stock market speculators will continue to take their bribes and profits and “run”!! (Banks in Liechtenstein, Switzerland, etc., will be the beneficiaries of the “dirty money” in those secret accounts.) A massive default by the Brazilian government remains a real possibility! Remember the quote: “When all your wishes are granted, many of your DREAMS will be DESTROYED!” (In other words, be careful what you wish for, because disenfranchising ~ 55,500,000 voters by over turning the results of a free election can be extremely dangerous.)

  • Sangram Sahoo

    I was in Brazil recently for couple of years. I have seen the stable economy falling off a cliff by 50% compared to dollar price. Dilma is not as popular as she was in her first term. She might be clean in terms of corruption but all scandals are happening under her nose. Brazilian people enjoys their life in all corners to the fullest and big part of the population does not give a damn about political circus going around. Sometimes the sleeping giants wake up and shout then go to sleep forever. This time peoples movement seems to be in right place in right time, Politicians must fix the economy and the internal political instability much before the military rule is forced in case. I love Brazil and I will pray for its betterment. The article looks biased but believe me all others who want Dilma out are much worse than her.

  • Bankimchandra Desai

    Dilma -Lula Combine in trouble.Petrobras ,govt.owned petroleum company in turmoil