Note from BW of Brazil: Media outlets throughout the world from Spain to Mexico, China to the United States have covered the ongoing circus that is the impeachment process involving Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff. But some of the facts that we know about the proceedings are perhaps more stunning than procedures to oust the president, revealing much about politics in Brazil.
For example, “of 65 members on the impeachment commission, 37 face charges of corruption or other serious crimes…Of the 513 members of the lower house in Congress, 303 face charges or are being investigated for serious crimes. In the Senate, the same goes for 49 of 81 members.” (1)
As such, it’s basically Brazilian politicians who have their own corruption scandals banding together to punish the president for corruption. But what else is going on here? As we pointed out in a recent piece about the overwhelmingly white protests calling for the impeachment of Dilma, this whole process also reveals a lot about the desire to roll back advancements made for certain parcels of the population (see yesterday’s post, for example) ever since Dilma’s party, the PT, took command of the country back in 2003.
How should blacks position themselves on the political crisis?
By Leticia Parks and Daniel Alfonso
Lava Jato, impeachment ….
In the article “How the left should position itself on the operation on Lula and the impeachment?” it becomes clear the current maneuvers that the Federal Superior Court and the National Congress make. This lends legitimacy to the judicial system, eager to gain momentum and power to influence the search of “top-down” measures to close the political crisis for the right. Justice is what least interests in the judiciary – after all, it would mean to end its own political privileges and connections.
Brazil has the largest black population outside of Africa, which since being forcibly settled here by the slave trade, made bold demonstrations of revolt against the ruling elites. The Brazilian bourgeoisie forged itself in the repression to the screams of freedom that black men and women have always given within this country.
The PT (Workers’ Party) government was elected with commitments to the black movement, which was organized in the peripheries around the country with confidence that this party would eliminate the profound racial inequality. In actions much more symbolic than effective, the federal government of the PT acknowledged that there are differences in opportunities between blacks and whites. In an attempt to calm the expectations of millions of blacks and co-opt important leaders of the Movimento Negro (black movement), it tried to implement specific policies for blacks, such as the Statute of Racial Equality, the quota law in national competitions and vestibulars (college entrance exams) and the Bolsa Família itself.
In the impeachment process, in the background, along with it, comes an immense desire of a bourgeoisie of the right to direct the next steps of the economic crisis, making them even more drastic and catastrophic than the PT itself has already done, which necessarily means regressing in all these achievements, a result of mobilization of black men and women throughout the country. Rejecting this reactionary maneuver is not about defending the PT. What is at stake is the need to organize themselves independently of that party to say what they, black men and women, actually want and need, to end the structural racism of our country.
… And the advancement of racist right
The right, however, did not gain political ground for nothing. The PT, on the grounds of ensuring “governability”, from (former President) Lula’s terms, realized all and any kind of political alliance with the racist right, as it did with the right of the landlordism and homophobic.
At the same time that the federal government of the PT since Lula has implemented minor aspects of historical black demands, it allowed the right to win more space in government and the political system. If the Congress and in the Ministries of the PT mingled with the right, the years of petismo (PTism) in power have seen skyrocketing numbers of prisoners, the absolute majority being blacks.
Now that the economic situation has worsened as some times ago didn’t happen, it is this very right that attacks the PT. Both sectors want to continue unloading the crisis on the backs of workers, and we know that those who feel this with more force are black people. The PT paved the way for the racist right and now it will not be it that will defend the black men and women from the attacks.
Against the racist right! Fight for a Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly paving the way to solve the drama of the black population!
The right behind the impeachment is outright racist. It is the right applauding the action of the police in Rio de Janeiro when segregating blacks and obliging them to live under the military boots, away from the beaches. It is it who calls the police against our “rolezinhos”. It is it that treats blacks like sardines on school reorganization and stealing their lunch (2). It is the right applauding deaths in the Carandiru (massacre) and each new slaughter that destroys the hopes of millions of youth of the periphery.
This political maneuver seeks, however, not only to remove Dilma from the Presidency. It’s not the judicial system that will position itself against the corruption of the bourgeois politicians and respond to the longing for justice of the population. It is this same judiciary, for example, that gives body to the legal processes that make police repression a tool of social control against blacks. It’s this judiciary that makes Brazil the country with the 5th highest prison population, with an absolute majority of blacks. That Judiciary who arrested Rafael Braga illegally, for being black and protesting in June 2013 and that maintains unpunished the killers of Amarildo (where’s Amarildo?).
With regard to the race question in Brazil, the pro impeachment wing comes to de-legitimize the little space that blacks have won, because the political agenda of this sector is, on the one hand, to intensify the adjustments to maintain the capitalist profits during the crisis, and secondly, by recovering a government policy of open repression and regression in relation to the race question.
Blacks have felt for months the bitter taste of the crisis on their tables, with wages depreciating, with layoffs and rising food prices. Getting around is also more expensive, and those who realize it first are those who travel long distances in big cities, sometimes without the right to transportation allowance for being a precarious worker. The adjustments already implemented by the PT government attack in the first place black women and men, and it is up to them, therefore, to be in the forefront of the mobilization for a Free and Sovereign Constituent Assembly paving the way to resolve the nation’s principal themes.
On outsourcing it’s fitting to decide on the national budget and the adjustment policies; to the relatives of those killed by the PM (Military Police) it’s fitting to decide on policies of security; inhabitants of the favelas (slums) must decide whether Brazil should continue to pay the domestic and foreign debt or whether this money will be invested in considerable improvements to all who live in this country. The organization of this Assembly, as well as the force expended to construct it, are the best way to stop the advance of the right that smiles with black bodies that have fallen to the ground. This demonstration of force, of the working class and the poor people, is the only one that can give substantive answers to the drama that the bourgeoisie imposes on the lives of millions of black men and women of this country. For us, this is within the framework of the struggle for a government of the workers, the only way to resolve fully and effectively the problems of black people.
- This according to to data prepared for the Los Angeles Times by the Brazilian organization Transparencia Brasil.
- In reference to a recent scandal in which some schools in the city of São Paulo requested that parents send lunches with their children because government supplied lunches had run out.