How the Conservative Restoration Reached Brazil

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By: Emir Sader / Source: Rebelion.org / The Dawn News / September, 6, 2016.

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The process of a conservative restoration, a counteroffensive of the Latin American Right, has taken over Brazil in the most unexpected way.

Dilma Rousseff had achieved her re-election with difficulties after facing a major offensive by the right, but she had no ‘period of grace’. Right after she won, she was targeted: Firstly, the opposition intended to start a recount of votes. Then, accusations of corruption against her began. Both strategies failed.

Later on, the right coordinated the parliamentary coup, as if Brazil were a country with a parliamentary regime, relying on the complicit silence of the Judicial power. And the scenario that many people thought to be impossible, due to its absurdity, became real: Now Brazil joins Argentina as the axis of the conservative restoration in Latin America, even though Brazil is under the control of a government that was not elected by the polls and which has no support from the society. At the same time, it is besieged by the upcoming elections and the ghost of Lula’s leadership.

The dream of the Brazilian right since 2002 has come true. Maybe not in the ways in which they had rehearsed it. Like the time when they tried to overthrow Lula in 2005, through an impeachment, which finally did not succeed or like those electoral attempts in 2006, 2010, 2014, when they were defeated. Now, they found the shortcut to stop all governments of the Workers’ Party, which is important to them more than ever because now the right will lose the elections once again if Lula is the next candidate (which they are trying to prevent). The shortcut is the soft coup: Honduras and Paraguay served as laboratories for this method. Defeated in four consecutive elections, and with the risk of continuing to have the same fate, the right sought destitution even though it had no arguments. It found support in the very own Vice President, who betrayed his government. He had been elected twice with one political agenda,, but he was still willing to apply the agenda that had been defeated in the polls four consecutive times.

Using the Parliamentary majority that had been elected, largely, with the financing resources of former Deputy Eduardo Cunha, who is unanimously recognized as the most corrupt of all of Brazil’s politicians, the right took down a President that had been elected by 54 million people, without any justification for an impeachment.

This is the new way in which the right takes over power in Latin America.

The truth is that democracy does not have a long tradition in Brazil. Over the last nine decades there were only three civilian Presidents elected by the popular vote and who have concluded their mandates. For almost three decades there were no Presidents chosen through democratic elections. Four civilian Presidents elected by the popular vote were unable to conclude their mandates.

It’s unclear whether dictatorships are the norm or the exception in Brazil. Since 1930, which marks the beginning of contemporary Brazil with Vargas’ revolution, only half of the Presidents were chosen by the people’s vote. Since 1964, Brazil underwent 21 years of military dictatorship, and right afterwards, 5 years of José Sarney’s government, who was not chosen through direct vote but by an Electoral College appointed by the Dictatorship —this is, 26 consecutive years with no democratically-elected President— followed by 26 years of presidential elections. This century was different, because Brazil was experiencing a true democracy with social content, approved by the majority of the population in 4 successive elections. Just when democracy began to gain social consistency, the right showed that it can’t stand it.

This was what this coup was about. To begin with,there was no reason to end Dilma’s mandate. Secondly, the Vice President, while still being an “interim President”, began to quickly apply the programme that had been defeated four times —and twice he had run for Vice President, representing that programme. This is a true assault to power by the most corrupt group of politicians that Brazil has ever known. Those who had been defeated in the polls became Ministers, Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and this couldn’t have happened through the popular vote, only through a coup.

So what should Brazil expect now? First of all, a major social crisis. The economy, which was already in recession for at least the last three years, will suffer the effects of the worst fiscal adjustment that the country has ever known. The ghost of stagflation becomes a reality. The government, without any legitimacy, is now applying a hard adjustment on an economy that is definitely suffering a setback, and this will produce a severe economic, social and political crisis. The coup won’t bring an end to the crisis as they promised, instead, it will deepen it.

This is a defeat, and it means the end of a political period that had started with Lula’s first victory, in 2002. But, even if they regained the State and the momentum that comes with it, the Brazilian right has little strength to consolidate its government. It will have to face not only the economic and social crisis but also an invigorated popular movement, plus Lula’s leadership. Brazil has become a stage for massive political disputes. The coupist government will try to reach 2018 with a devastated country, and it will try to prevent Lula from running as candidate, with repression against popular mobilizations. The popular movement needs to reformulate its strategy and its platform, it must develop new, broad and combative ways to mobilize, so that the coupist government remains just another parenthesis in the country’s history.

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