On May 11, Brazilian senators voted overwhelmingly to begin impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party (PT) temporarily removing her from office for up to six months. The ex-vice president, Michel Temer, of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), has now assumed the presidency.
This undemocratic parliamentary coup, based on flimsy charges of fiscal irresponsibility, was boosted by a widespread campaign by the corporate media and key sectors of the ruling class disgruntled by the modest reforms and tepid left neoliberalism of the PT.
In his first days in office, Temer and his twenty-three all-male all-white ministers with significant representatives from the evangelical Christian and agro-business sectors announced plans to further privatize state assets, cut social programs and labor rights, and introduce a strict law-and-order regime.
In light of the severity of the national situation and the poverty of the alternatives that present themselves:
We accuse the interim government that is now getting started of already being stillborn. Never in the history of the Brazilian Republic has a government begun under such illegitimacy and popular challenge. If, in Fernando Collor’s case, the impeachment process was a moment of national reunification against a president who was rejected by all, in Dilma’s case impeachment was a moment when we needed to build a wall to divide the Esplanade of Ministries (in the capital Brasília) in two.
This wall will not fall; it will become more and more entrenched. Those who supported Dilma and those who, even while not supporting her, fully understood the opportunism of a political class looking to instrumentalize the popular revolt against corruption for its own survival, will not go back home. This will be the government of permanent crisis.
We accuse the representatives of this government of being characters from another time, zombies from a past that insists on never dying. They are not the solution to the political crisis, but the political crisis itself in power. Their oligarchic and palatine political practices could only end in a parliamentary coup denounced around the world.
That is why they fear any possibility of general elections. They will govern with police violence on one hand and the failed program of austerity policies on the other; policies that were never ratified in an election. With these figures in power, there is no more reason at all to call what we have in this country a democracy.
We accuse the Rousseff government of having led Brazil into the largest political crisis in its history. The series of corruption scandals was not an invention of the media, but a normal practice of the government.
There is no point in saying that this practice had always been normal, since the very existence of the Brazilian left was bound up with the possibility of expelling private interests from the sphere of the common good, making public institutions more ethical.
May the sectors of the pro-government Brazilian left carry out an unrelenting self-criticism. Meanwhile, the search to create an impossible reconciliation only led the government to completely lose its character, to embrace what it had always denounced, distancing itself from its own voters. The erratic character of this government was the hand that dug its own grave. May this aimlessness serve as a lesson for the Left as a whole.
We accuse those who never wanted to face the need to settle accounts with Brazil’s dictatorial past and remove the people who supported the dictatorship from public life of being directly responsible for bringing about this crisis. The current crisis is the greatest proof of the New Republic’s failure.
The fact that a fascist candidate (and here the term is completely appropriate) like Jair Bolsonaro today has 20 percent of the intended vote among voters who earn more than ten times the minimum wage shows how our post-dictatorship “national reconciliation” was illusory.
That episode only served to protect the sectors of the population that are now embracing a cartoonish fascist and taking to the streets with slogans worthy of the Cold War. As a result, with every day that goes by, we see how this part of the population feels it is authorized to commit new violations of every kind. This is just beginning.
We accuse hegemonic sectors of the press of going back to a stage of partiality not seen in a long time in this country. Faced with a situation of national division, it is inappropriate for the press to incite demonstrations on one side and hide the demonstrations of the other, to turn itself into a biased media court, judging, morally destroying some who are accused and protecting others, completely losing interest in various scandals when they didn’t directly involve the government.
This position will only serve to detonate the antagonisms even more and reduce the press to the status of a political party.
At this moment when some are inclined to feel melancholy, faced with the country’s misgovernment, it must be remembered that we can always speak in the name of the first person plural, and this will be our greatest strength.
It is part of the logic of power to produce melancholy, to make us believe in our own weakness and isolation. But there are many who have been, are, and will be, like us. For those who cried at the moments of political misery that this country has lived through recently, may they remember that Brazil has always surprised and will surprise. This is not the country of Temer, Bolsonaro, Cunha, Renan, Malafaia, Alckmin.
This is the country of Zumbi, Prestes, Pagu, Lamarca, Francisco Julião, Darcy Ribeiro, Celso Furtado, and, above all, it is ours. There is a new body politic that will emerge when the oligarchy and their clique least expect it.
Originally published in Folha de São Paulo. Translated by Dylan Stillwood.