Brazil's coup gov't 'has revealed its true intentions', MST leader says

May 27, 2016

Anti-coup protesters on the streets of Rio de Janeiro in April.

In what has been widely condemned as a US-backed right-wing power grab to impose harsh neoliberal measures, Brazil's Workers' Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff was forced to stand aside by Brazil's Senate on May 12 while she faces impeachment procedures.

However, the “institutional coup” has been met with widespread protests and the new administration is facing a host of problems.

This includes the resignation of the coup government's planning minister following revelations he directly conspired to have Dilma removed to halt corruption investigations against a range of politicians and business executives, including himself.

João Pedro Stédile is leader of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), one of the world's largest social movements. In an article translated by Federico Fuentes and abridged from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, he looks at how the coup government has revealed its true intentions.


It only took a few hours for the provisional government of the coup-plotters to install themselves and demonstrate their intentions through the composition of its cabinet, the plans it has announced and its public declarations.

The Senate only forced Dilma to temporarily step aside and provisionally installed [vice-president] Michel Temer. Some lawyers say the constitution stipulates that the vice-president cannot reshuffle the cabinet. He should be limited to administrative acts until the merits of the case against Dilma are decided.

But the last thing the coup-plotters and their accomplices in the Supreme Court are doing is respecting the constitution. As [former president Ignacio] Lula [da Silva] said, it is as if “you went on holidays and left someone to provisionally look after your house, and they sold it and remodelled everything inside”.

The cabinet of the coup-plotters is a festival of thieves. All men, white, hypocrites and rotten. The Rede Globo [media conglomerate] campaigned intensely over the past few months, insinuating that Dilma should be deposed due to the levels of corruption in her government.

The middle class that mobilised in the streets clamoured for the return of the military dictatorship to put an end to the corrupt PTers.

Well, among Temer's newly appointed ministers, there are no less than seven facing corruption charges. As politician Ciro Gomes said, “they handed over the government to a trade union of criminals” and no one had the courage to put them on trial.

The measures announced or already taken by the coup government are a tragedy for Brazilian people. But they are coherent with its neoliberal plan to reduce the cost of labour, hand over our resources, privatise what they can and redirect public funds that were going to education, health and social security to business owners.

They have already proposed a provisional measure that allows for the potential privatisation of all state companies, such as [oil company] Petrobras, electricity companies, ports and airports. They will probably start with the electricity companies and recently found reserves of deep-water oil.

In response, there will be a national protest on June 6 in Rio de Janiero to denounce this attack on our national sovereignty.

In terms of social security, they want to impose a minimum retirement age of 65 for men and women, and a pension no longer tied to the minimum wage.

In terms of health care, they have announced cuts to the Universal Health System (SUS) and the end of the More Doctors program that covers 50 million poor Brazilians living in areas where no white coats had gone before. They are even talking about cutting the Emergency Mobile Attention System (SAMU).

In terms of interest rates, nothing has been said about the R$500 billion [about A$195 billion] designated each year to bankers through the payment of the internal debt. This is why they put two bankers in charge of looking after the chicken coop.

In agriculture and land reform, they had no problems closing the Ministry for Agricultural Development and its programs for peasants.

The coup government has made it clear to the people what its interests are and how it will act.

That is why all the popular movements and organisations that are part of the Popular Brazil Front and the People Without Fear Front, along with other coalitions, have united behind the slogan “No to the coup, Temer Out!”

None of us will accept a process of negotiation or sit at the table with representatives of an illegitimate and unpatriotic coup government.

Thankfully, Brazilian society and the international community has quickly understood the nature of this illegitimate government. And the slogan “No to the coup, Temer out!” has reverberated in numerous events, public acts and ceremonies.

Outside the country, hundreds of protests have occurred in front of Brazilian embassies. The international media that continues to follow the manual of listening to both sides, demoralised the local media by denouncing the character of the coup.

Personalities from around the world have spoken out. Pope Francis drew attention to the “soft coups” underway in some countries, although he did not directly cite Brazil. The respected US academic Noam Chomsky, as well as Nobel prize winners such as Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Rigoberta Menchu, and even artists at the Cannes film festival have expressed their solidarity and denounced the coup.

In Brazil, public protests have multiplied as diverse sectors take to the streets, including high school students, artists and intellectuals. For the first time, they occupied more than 20 offices of the National Arts Foundation across the country, forcing the coup-plotters to reinstate the Ministry of Culture. Young people have returned to the streets to protest.

And where are those who supported the coup? The “greens and yellows” against corruption? They are embarrassed, at home. They have disappeared.

Certainly, from now on the popular mobilisations will increase in size and numbers of sectors mobilised. The Popular Brazil Front has organised a calendar of mobilisations and activities across the country for the next few months.

Within the trade union movement, the drums have begun to sound in preparation for a general strike, paralysing productive activities in opposition to the measures of the coup government.

Moreover, solidarity with Dilma is increasing, despite the criticisms we have made during of her term. She has been invited to participate in many mass activities in Brazil, where we will loudly and clearly say that 54 million voters — the majority of the Brazilian people — elected her to govern the country until 2018.

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