Brazil: Defeat the Fascist Coup in the Streets!
Joint Statement of the Corrente Comunista Revovlucionária (RCIT-Section in Brazil) and the Fração Trotskista – Vanguarda Proletária Trotskyist Fraction-Vanguard Proletarian, 7.3.2015, www.elmundosocialista.blogspot.com.br, https://fracaotrotskistavanguardaproletaria.wordpress.com/, www.thecommunists.net
The 2014 presidential elections in Brazil exposed the tremendous tectonic shift which has taken place in Brazilian society. In this sense, it is not possible to analyze the electoral battle fought between Dilma Roussef-PT (Workers Party) and Aécio Neves–PSDB as just another in a series of regular political events in the bourgeois democratic regime installed in the country in 1985. Rather, the strife of the 2014 presidential campaign and the candidacy of Aécio (PSDB) must be understood as part of the reactionary wave sweeping the world in recent years, and which has manifested itself until now in the coups in Egypt, Paraguay, Honduras, Thailand, and Ukraine. In Brazil, specifically, this coup came in the wake of the mass social protest movements of June 2013.
Ultimately, rightist and reactionary forces determined the final tone of the demonstrations of June 2013. Initially, these demonstrations had had a progressive character. However, as they developed and increased in size, reactionary forces propagating petty-bourgeois illusions to the masses joined the movement. From then on, it was no accident that all political currents and social organizations identified with socialism had their flags burned and their supporters beaten by fascists. The predominant use of green and yellow (the principal colors of Brazil’s national flag) in the demonstrators’ banners and the anti-party slogans they chanted, eloquently expressed the ultimate significance of the 2013 demonstrations. To be sure, after the first wave of demonstrations, a number were in fact organized by leftist currents, trade unions, and popular movements. However, these can be best understood as a kind of resistance to the reactionary, anti-party sentiment so deeply entrenched in the protest movement, and therefore cannot be seen as a simple continuation of the first demonstrations.
The demonstrations of June 2013 started as a legitimate protest of the popular masses against price hikes for local transport. In addition, many people used them to express their anger with the corrupt political establishment. However, these protests had several weaknesses: they were strongly influenced by middle class layers and backward ideas, like anti-party libertarian views. Again, these factors found their expression in reactionary attacks against activists who carried flags of left-wing parties.
These backward libertarian ideas also helped right-wing forces – including fascists – to infiltrate these demonstrations. With the decline of the numbers of demonstrators – helped by the destructive tactics of the anarchist Black Bloc – these right-wing forces succeeded in transforming the character of these demonstrations from legitimate protests into reactionary mobilizations against the Popular Front government. In this fashion the right-wing forces exploited many progressive demonstrations – organized by the poor of the favelas against Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 World Cup – for their own purposes.
Marxists critically support demonstrations dominated by the middle class if they reflect a legitimate democratic or social protest against the government, sectors of the ruling class, or fascists. Marxists participate in such mobilizations and fight against attempts of reactionary forces to exploit the backward prejudices of the masses. However, Marxists cannot give any support to middle class demonstrations which serve as instruments to strengthen anti-democratic forces or to weaken the workers’ movement. While Marxists assist the masses pedagogically to overcome backward prejudices, and while they by no means ignore the legitimate desire behind demonstrations which are dominated by such retrograde illusions, they energetically fight, by any means necessary, right-wing forces and their attempts to spread their influence. Where such reactionary forces succeed in dominating and controlling mass demonstrations, Marxists can no longer support such mobilizations.
The demands of the rightist currents in the demonstrations of June 2013 constituted an undisguised, direct attack against the Popular Front government (PT-PMDB). Furthermore, the 2014 election campaign and its aftermath made perfectly clear what had been the real objectives of what the June 2013 demonstrations ultimately became. The reactionary forces (“green and yellow shirts”) and their demands were incorporated programmatically in the candidacy of Neves (PSDB). The latter, in turn, made explicit that his only goal was to remove the Popular Front government, ostensibly because workers’ wages were too high, profits from surplus value were too low, and inflation targets were out of control. In addition to these criticisms of the PT, Neves defended lowering the age for reaching the legal majority -- the age at which a person can be tried as an adult (the main victims of such a reform would predictably be young people in the periphery, blacks, and mulattos). He also proposed reducing the role of state banks in social programs (the “Minha Casa Minha Vida” program [“My Home, My Life”]), reducing the “bolsa familia” (family allowance – a pittance allocated only to the very poor), cutting back social inclusion programs like the Prouni program (scholarships for college students), and lowering the quotas for blacks in the universities. Bottom line: Neves and his allies accused the PT of supposedly representing socialism or communism. Therefore, it was not by chance that several prominent groups belonging to the middle class, who either campaigned for Neves or declared that they were going to vote for him, proclaimed that, if the Popular Front were to win the elections, they would leave Brazil because the country was deepening its course toward Bolivarianism.
Following the victory of Dilma Roussef, the Popular Front candidate in the presidential elections, by a margin of almost four million (3% of the popular vote), a series of opposition-led provocations questioned the legitimacy of such a “narrow” victory and demanded rescinding the PT government via impeachment. Even sectors of the PSDB (former presidential opposition candidate in 2010 Jose Serra, former Justice Minister and current senator-Aluizio Nunes, and the defeated candidate Aécio Neves himself) had the temerity to call for instituting such a legalistic coup. The most recent such attempt cites juridical reasons for the impeachment of President Dilma, and was submitted at the request of the Institute Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the prestige of which has strengthened the impetus for an impeachment vote being called for, by social networks, for March 15. We reaffirm: such provocative calls for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff are a deeply reactionary and are entirely putschist in character!
Our organizations did not call for voting for the Popular Front candidates Dilma Rousseff/Michel Temer in the 2014 elections, because that would have meant giving political support to a sector of the bourgeoisie seeking power. This is unacceptable for Marxists.
However, if the majority of the ruling class now wishes to bring down a government of the Popular Front – regardless of whether this is attempted illegally or via an ostensibly "legal" process –this constitutes a coup-de-etat and the working class must therefore oppose it by any means necessary. Such a coup would be a brutal attack on the limited democratic rights existing under the system of bourgeois democracy.
The election to the role of President of the House of Representatives of Eduardo Cunha -- PMDB-Rio de Janeiro, a representative of one of the most conservative wings of Brazilian national politics (Christian Fundamentalists), and an outspoken opponent of the government of the Popular Front -- makes him second in the presidential line of succession, after the vice president, and it is he who, if the political situation allows, will receive and have to decide upon the legitimacy of a possible writ of impeachment.
The role of the Brazilian media is fundamental in the realization of a coup. The capitalist press has an organized campaign against the government, always highlighting its alleged corruption, as if it were only the government of Popular Front (mainly PT) that has created the political corruption so rife in the country’s 500 year history; while the Federal Police (supposedly controlled by the federal government) is providing reams of evidence to delegitimize the government by its investigation of corruption in the Petrobras scandal.
The main reason the government’s enemies have chosen impeachment as the means to orchestrate a coup is that such an act is a “democratic,” legal action, provided for by the constitution. But in reality, impeachment is just the way that the law of bourgeois ”democracy“ provides to overthrow a government elected by millions of people, replacing it with a minority faction which failed to get elected to power. And even the instrument of a formally legalistic provision for impeachment does not mean that it can be free from manipulation and is, therefore, from a political point of view, a coup in every sense. In this context, we must not forget what happened to Fernando Lugo in Paraguay (2012) and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras (2009). For workers, what is of least importance is the supposedly democratic formality; but what is essential for them is the political struggle and the class interests hiding behind appearances. From this perspective, what is at stake here and now is the replacement of a reformist Popular Front government with a government of bourgeois sectors most directly linked to the US and European imperialism. Thus, these sectors are, by their very nature, freer to abrogate more workers’ rights than the PT could possibly do. Among the objectives of the more right-wing sector are to: increase the profits from surplus value; lower workers’ pensions; privatize the only still partially state-owned banks (Bank of Brazil and Caixa Economica); lower the measly minimum wage of just 300 dollars; increase privatization of oil reserves in Pré-Sal Petróleo and consequently fully privatize Petrobras; deepen the anti-worker reforms of social security; cancel the major- and medium-importance rights achieved by organized labor (such as abolishing or decreasing the thirteenth salary paid in December as a Christmas bonus, unemployment insurance, maternity leave, etc.).
Once again, in the 2014 presidential election we – the Corrente Comunista Revovlucionária (CCR, Section of the RCIT) and the Fração Trotskysta-Vanguarda Popular (FT-VP, Trotskyist Fraction – Proletarian Vanguard) – did not call for the workers and oppressed to vote for Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer. Our position was in stark contrast to that of some Stalinist parties and so-called “Trotskyist” groups – like the Liga Comunista and Lenin Collective (affiliated with the CLQI) – who did, because calling for such a vote means supporting a sector of the bourgeoisie to achieve power. That is unacceptable for Marxists.
As revolutionaries we call the working class to fight against the coup without appealing to the bourgeois state apparatus (the judiciary, armed forces, the UN, the great powers, etc.). The working class must instead rely on its own power of mobilization. It must struggle against the coup with mass demonstrations, culminating in a general strike, conduct occupations of businesses and factories, etc. In addition, a first step for the workers is a basic call for the formation of armed self-defense forces and militias.
For all the above reasons, the working class must not and cannot participate in any coup movement, such as that called for 15 March by the most reactionary forces in the country.
This does not mean giving any support to the government of the Popular Front of Dilma Rousseff and Vice-PT-PMDB Michel Temer. We, both the CCR/RCIT and the FT-VP, have defended not voting in the last presidential elections. However, at this point, any neutrality in regarding this attempted coup is being complicit with and on the side of those reactionary forces which are sponsoring it.
Thus, it is necessary that the PT, the CUT, Conlutas, the MST, the PSTU and the PSOL and all leftist currents and parties cooperate militantly to defeat the fascist coup!