The Storm Approaches


The intensity of the Brazilian crisis continues to increase. Despite a decrease in the number of street protests against president Dilma Rousseff, the PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático do Brasil – Party of Brazil’s Democratic Movement), the core party to the maintenance of the Brazilian “governability” since the end of the military regime – in the 1980s – to present days (it traditionally has the majority of Congress), in thepast week decided to break up the coalition with Dilma Rousseff’sadministration, and determined that its affiliate members must leave the offices and positions they currently hold in the administration, though president of the party Michel Temerwill remain as Brazil's vice-president.

This decision will possibly begin the fragmentation of PMDB, as it is, as some describe it, a political party “for rent” (some would even say “for sale”), without strong ideological coherency. Chief of Staff of the Presidency of the Republic (a post with the rank of Minister) and former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva has already said that he will look for support within the sectors of PDMB that have historical connections with his PT party (Partido dos Trabalhadores – Worker’s Party) to block the impeachment process. By that he means the so-called “ethical PMDB”, which supported his government back in 2003, when the party had not adopted aconcrete stance in the election. In fact, senator Roberto Requião, one of PMDB’s political leaders, has already spoken on the subject, strongly criticizing PMDB's decision to break with DilmaRousseff. Requião also criticized the party's document entitled “Ponte para o Futuro” (Bridge to the Future), published by the Fundação Ulysses Guimarães (UlissesGuimarães Foundation)[1], which proposes a “new government” that would better suit the globalist's and Brazilian’s financial interests.

Thus, the eventual fragmentation of PMDB would be a decisive mark in Brazilian political history, signaling the decline of Brazil's 1988 Republic, after all, since re-democratization the powerful PMDB party has always been a part of any government coalition (one can't rule Brazil without PMDB, they say).

While this is going on, the Left’s militancy, in general, and especially those groups historically linked to the left wing of PT, like MST (Movimento dos Sem Terra – Landless Movement, a peasant social movement),have already signaled that they are preparing to exert pressure on any post-impeachment government. RuiFalcão, PT’s president, has already suggested that such social movements will not accept the impeachment and will go to the streets to demonstrate and exert pressure should DilmaRousseff be impeached. Depending on how the situation develops during the transitory period, a likely PMDB-PSDB coalition (PSDB being the “Party of the Brazilian Social-Democracy” ­‒ a somewhat neoliberal party, regardless of its name) could apply an iron hand against street protests and thus suppress any dissent. Ironically, the so-called anti-terror law[2] recently sanctioned by DilmaRousseff, could be turned against PT's own militancy. However, a PMDB-PSDB coalition would probably go deeper into the austerity measuresdemanded by financial globalism.

It is unlikely that the movements somehow connected to PT, and of the Left in general, would be simply neutralized; thus we would have a fertile scenario for social chaos to be exploited by these political groups: it’s important to remember that many of those who went to the streets against DilmaRousseffin favor of her impeachment did so due to austerity measures on social benefitsby the administration, like those related to hunger eradication and credit facilities for housing. These protests are, therefore, composed of people contrary to the Atlanticist and capitalist project represented by vice-president Temer (a vice-president who turned against his own president!).

Also, the factor of dissatisfaction against such austerity measures, at the end of the day, will be more important when mobilizing these segments of society than the constant news coverage of instances of corruption. This is because the authorities that are part of the Lava Jato (Car Wash) operation have already openly admitted their involvement, and that they do not intend to investigate the crimes that took place in the administrations prior to Lula's. This signalizes that the putschists can at least count on parts of the federal police and public prosecution offices to guarantee that the selective leaking of valuable and secret information to the press will not happen, like what happened to PT's top members. Aside from this, the very recent coordinated wave of pro-government manifestations (on March 31st) displayed a good capacity for mobilization by the pro-governmentfaction: at least 400,000 people throughout Brazil. One should not forget that the Left is split between pro and anti-Dilmafactions, the austerity measures, and the media campaign against the PT. In light of all this, that's a reasonable display of the power that remains in the Left's hands (in Brazil, some nationalist conservatives, in face of an Atlanticist attack, may join the Left in such demonstrations, not “for” DilmaRoussef, but against pro-America forces).

BRICS, and the changes in foreign policy (specially under Lula's administration),are the main reasons why PT is under attack. It is an attack on BRICS as well as an attack on South-American regional integration (PT's opposition sees Western Europe and the US as Brazil's ideal partners, although in a very asymmetrical way). The general population, however, does not care much about Geopolitics and will not be moved by the idea of BRICS or corruption scandals at this present juncture. The focus is on the economy, which is not in a good shape, and that is why DilmaRoussef's popularity is so low right now.

These recent events showed PT the urgent necessity to retake its popular support and the urgency to build a more autonomous and strong administration. However, it's unlikely that their leaders (even with the aid of former president Lula) have enough courage to defy the financial capital and regain the people's goodwill. It is by the means of compromise that PT rose to power, after all. Nothing good came from the alliance and the agreements with the oligarchs, neither for the people nor for PT. And a serious opposition would need to create some real alternatives to the actual situation; something better than the same liberal and financial “solutions” of austerity and privatization measures. Despite its strong support, the impeachment proposal is not enough in the given situation. For Brazilians, a better alternative to simply rejecting the current administration is answering the question: what comes next?    

[1] The Fundação Ulysses Guimarães is a foundation linked to the PMDB.
[2] This anti-terror law refers more to vandalism in protests (like throwing rocks or breaking glasses) than acts of terror itself. The meaning of “terror”, in itself, is very vague in this law, and makes room for subjective interpretations.