Joint Statement of the Revolutionary Communist Current (CCR section of RCIT in Brazil) and the Fração Trotskysta- Vanguarda Proletária, March 27, 2015, www.elmundosocialista.blogspot.com.br, https://fracaotrotskistavanguardaproletaria.wordpress.com/, www.thecommunists.net
The pro-coup demonstrations called by sectors of the right-wing and extreme right last March 15, which were highly inflated by the unmistakable mobilization of the television media, in particular the powerful Globo television network, had as their main objectives the limited fight against corruption (i.e., only in Petrobras) and the demand to impeach the president-elect, Dilma Rousseff. Participating in these demonstrations were at least 100 thousand people, not much different in number than the event called by the Trade Union Confederation (CUT) two days earlier which bore precisely the opposite message. The social composition of the thousands of people in the pro-coup demonstration consisted mostly of the middle and upper classes, predominantly white. These were the very same people who filled the football stadiums during the World Cup games in 2014, and shouted insults at President Rousseff. The poor (of all colors), the blacks and mulattos, were not in the World Cup stadiums in 2014, nor did they attend on the golpist rally on March, 15, 2015.
Among the organizers of the pro-coup demonstration were the following groups: The movement “Vem Pra Rua” (“Come to the Street), the “Revoltados on Line” (“Angry People Online”), and the ”Free Brazil Movement” (MBL). The press pointed out that the ”Come to the Street” movement has as its sponsor the Brazilian billionaire from the AmBev brewing company, the biggest brewery in Latin America and the fifth largest in the world. This group is linked to the presidential candidate defeated in the election campaign of 2014, Aécio Neves, from the PSDB. “Angry People Online” has as its figurehead Congressman Jair Bolsonaro (PP-RJ), a representative of the military, who openly advocates the return of the military dictatorship which ruled the country from 1964 to 1985. The “Free Brazil Movement” (MBL) is the main proponent calling for the coup. Headquartered in São Paulo, it defends the impeachment of the president. The Brazilian magazine Carta Capital contends that the American billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, finance the MBL.
The pro-coup argument for impeachment based on corruption falls apart when we recall that the current opposition, which ruled during more than 30 years the state of São Paulo, the richest state of the country, is stuck in the mud with its budgetary deviations for the expansion of São Paulo Subway coming to more than US $ 200 million. These facts were reported by the Wall Street Journal and Der Spiegel, but “strangely” ignored by the Brazilian press, especially during the presidential election campaign of 2014. The same can be said of the water crisis (the massive lack of water in the state of São Paulo’s reservoirs), which hit of over a year ago, and which is today necessitating a brutal rationing of water for millions of people from the largest metropolitan area in the country. This, too, was only reported as serious by the media after the election of the main official responsible for the disaster was guaranteed: Governor Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB. The media’s presenting to the public at large the government of the People's Front (PT), led by President Dilma Rousseff, as being ”the most corrupt of all time,” has fueled the presence in the streets of angry and resentful middle class mobs – racist, xenophobic, and anti-communist.
The growth of right-wing movements in the country, encouraged by the economic crisis which began in 2008, has spread around the developed world, and in Brazil began to peak in 2014. From 2008 to 2014, such a crisis was partially contained by the Popular Front government of Lula da Silva, which had granted a strong and steady supply of long-term credit to consumers as well as tax subsidies to big business, especially in the sector of agricultural exporters and the automotive industry, but such subsidies resulted in a significant reduction of budgetary resources of the Brazilian State and, worse, did not guarantee jobs when the economic crisis exacerbated (e.g., in the automotive industry). During the “generous years” the financial sector was not neglected but received help provided by the Popular Front government. In fact, when Lula da Silva was in office, he even claimed that the bankers had never earned as much as in the eight years of his government. But then the credit bubble burst, along with Brazil’s public accounts, as a result of the subsidies and tax breaks, and finally the crisis, which had been latent, exploded last year. The richest and most conservative bourgeoisie, along with the middle class, “suffered” from the strong effects of the recession and was paying high taxes, so they teamed up against the Popular Front leading to a huge growth in the opposition, and bringing along with it a virulent reactionary sector, very similar in philosophy to the Tea Party movement among US Republicans, i.e., the worse it is, the better and easier to overthrow the elected president. President Dilma only won reelection because the votes of the (poorer) northeast region, which historically votes for the Workers’ Party, along with those from the State of Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, gave her a narrow victory, defeating her opponent by only 3%.
Meanwhile, the president, to maintain the “governability” and under intense external pressure from US and European imperialism, soon after taking office enacted laws that rescinded labor rights, reduced pensions rights, lowered budgets for education, and increased demands from the unemployed to receive unemployment insurance. Thus, the PT and its leaders became discredited in the eyes of millions of workers, as their victory against the defeated candidate Aécio Neves was in large part based on Rousseff’s disparaging the challenger, claiming how much he would take away labor and social rights if elected.
So the coup movement which had emerged and grown as the final result of the June 2013 protest movements returned with a vengeance after an extremely aggressive election campaign, particularly as investigations into corruption at Petrobras began, with members of the company and the government being involved in corruption charges.
From an internal perspective, it is mistaken to assume that the primary reason of these pro-coup demonstrations is an authentic fight against corruption. If this were really the case, the impeachment of the governor of São Paulo Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB) would have to be undertaken, following allegations that the misuse of billions in funds to renovate São Paulo’s subway system left the State of São Paulo’s reservoirs dry after Alckmin had been warned for years by technicians that this is exactly would happen if there were a serious drought. In fact, the main reason for the impeachment demands is that the bourgeoisie does not need and does not want the government of the Popular Front to remain in power, which is governing with its phony ally, the PMDB party. With the deepening crisis, high inflation (7% in the last 12 months), a great number of cars remaining unsold by automakers (resulting in thousands of job layoffs), the devaluation of the Brazilian currency against the US dollar (3.25 reais per dollar), an increase in the price of fuels, decreased tax revenues, decreased primary surplus, the traditional bourgeoisie wants to manage the new retirement pension-schemes themselves, and demands the complete privatization of Petrobras along with the conglomerate’s pre-salt oil reserves, as well as the privatization of the only state-owned banks still left (the Bank of Brazil and Caixa Economica Federal); all this in addition to the promotion of a strong wage squeeze and the loss of social and labor rights for workers. The Workers’ Party, despite having appointed a finance minister chosen by US imperialism and Wall Street, the Chicago-school-bred Joaquim Levy, despite its own attacks on the rights of workers at the start of the government, will ultimately not be willing to lose control of Petrobras and the two state banks.
From an international point of view, American and European imperialism have never accepted the proximity of the Brazilian government with Chavez and deeply reject the plans of the BRINCS group (Brazil-Russia-India-Nigeria-China-South Africa) to create its own bank, a real threat and challenge to the IMF and the World Bank. This at the same time that Western imperialism is confronting Russia because of the Ukraine and is intensely competing with China which in turn is expanding its investments in the region that US imperialism considers its own backyard, i.e., Latin America by, for example, by constructing a canal through Nicaragua which will directly compete with the Panama Canal. Several organizations behind the pro-coup demonstrations, NGOs and foundations operating in Brazil, are financed by US imperialism.
Character of the March 15 Coup Movement
As previously indicated, this is a massive reactionary and rightist movement, led by a wealthy section of the bourgeoisie organized around the conservative Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB – which, despite its name, has nothing in common with social democracy). Its demonstrators take to the streets dressed in Brazil’s national colors, yellow and green, while disguising their submissive policy of delivering the nation’s wealth to US and European imperialism. The movement’s initial aim was simply to give a bloody nose to the Popular Front government of the PT-PMDB, but with the spread and growth of the demonstrations, a coup became its openly-declared goal. Currently they support the impeachment of the president Roussef, based on the recent models from Honduras and Paraguay. There is a fascist minority within the movement, led by current and former military personnel who openly call for a military coup, as happened in Venezuela in 2002 or even in Brazil in 1964. As a whole, this coup movement is the biggest threat to the (few) rights within Brazil’s bourgeois democracy which remain for the working class and the oppressed.
The Working Class has Also Mobilized
The CUT and social organizations have proven that, if they want to, they can still mobilize thousands of workers as they used to do in the late 80s. It is estimated at least 100 thousand workers were present on March 13, 2015 demonstration on Paulista Avenue in Sao Paulo, and thousands more participated in demonstrations in other important cities, primarily Rio de Janeiro and the capitals of Northeast, like Salvador, Recife, Sao Luis, Joao Pessoa, etc.
Participating in the demonstrations were workers from the rank-and-file of mass trade and popular movements: metal workers, civil servants, the homeless, landless, workers from commerce enterprises, oil, banking, public school teachers, etc.
Even if the official demands of the demonstrators were the defense of Petrobras and against the recent austerity measures instituted by President Dilma Rousseff, what we saw and what we heard from the speakers was the total rejection of any impeachment attempt and a return to the military dictatorship. That is to say, the demonstrators are no longer making only economic demands but political demand as well. This event was extremely important for the working class in Brazil.
Characterization of Roussef’s Governance
Roussef’s is a Popular Front government, so its policy is pro-bourgeoisie. Although the government has provided some meager social benefits in recent years in the form of grants (family-school-college), it also made extensive concessions to the bourgeoisie while implementing an austerity package against workers. This is not a common bourgeois government as it counts on the active support of organized sectors of the working class and the poor. For revolutionaries, it is not possible to support this type of Popular Front government during an election campaign. The aim of revolutionaries is to step aside from an electoral campaign and ultimately cause the workers to break with such a so-called Popular Front.
The current polarization can easily lead to a pre-revolutionary crisis. Most of the bourgeois sector is dissatisfied with the Dilma government, and the working class, while defending the government against the coup movement, is nevertheless dissatisfied.
What to Do?
The Revolutionary Communist Current-CCR and the Fração Trotskysta-Vanguarda Popular-FT-VP call upon workers' organizations to resist the threats of coup (as the revolutionaries did in Venezuela in 2002 and Honduras in 2009). We call for the formation of resistance committees (or anti-coup committees) in companies, neighborhoods, in the popular communities, favelas, etc. We also call upon the CUT, the PT-PSTU, PSOL, etc, to organize such resistance committees. In the present situation, it is necessary to create armed groups for self-defense against the coup and in defense of Petrobras, while at same time opposing the government’s austerity measures.
CCR and the FT-VP condemn the PSTU and PSOL parties and the PCB for their centrist position of standing by idly as neutral observers in the face of the coup threat. We call upon their members to break with this policy and join the resistance.
The Revolutionary Party
In light of the above situation, and facing the real threat to the few remaining rights remaining for workers and the poor in Brazil, the CCR and the FT-VP call upon revolutionaries in Brazil to unite in order to build a pre-party organization whose ultimate goal is the founding of a World Revolutionary Party.