Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff was removed from office by a majority vote (61-20) in the Senate on 31 August, having been found guilty of manipulating government accounts. This follows an earlier vote by the chamber of deputies last May to suspend Rousseff and replace her with Michel Temer of the capitalist PMBD party – which was governing in coalition with Rousseff’s Workers Party (PT). Temer immediately announced spending cuts, attacks on pensions and anti-union laws.
The impeachment amounts to a constitutional coup by the capitalist class gathered around Temer, whose party, like Rousseff’s, is also mired in corruption.
LSR (CWI in Brazil) is part of the struggle to oust Temer and to build a political left alternative. Its banner was prominent on a recent large anti-Temer demo in Sao Paulo, later attacked by police.
The carpeted hall of the federal senate building has once more been a stage for the greatest of infamy. The vote on the definitive impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, on spurious grounds, represents a dangerous precedent which puts the democratic rights of the Brazilian people in serious danger.
The fraud and political, judicial and media manoeuvres used to push through the impeachment shows the degree of rottenness of Brazil’s political system.
We can expect nothing from these old and notorious corrupt suits and ties who will say and do anything as long as it represents the interests of their masters – big business.
If this reactionary political elite is able to do this to a president – who did not represent any serious threat to the establishment – imagine what they could do to left political forces of the working class which do represent the need for radical change in the country.
The decision of the senate confirms an old truth: that our ‘democracy’ is not real but only to keep up appearances when it is convenient for the masters of capital.
This decision is part of a project which deepens the attacks and counter-reforms against workers in the interests of big business – in the middle of one of the worst economic crises in Brazil’s history.
To guarantee the privileges of those above, they need to stamp on the rights of those below. This is the shameful role which has been assigned to the figure of Michel Temer.
His government will spare no effort in its crusade to attack democratic rights, including the right to organise and demonstrate.
The new impulse of this illegitimate government against the workers can only be contained by a united struggle of the working class and poor.
When she could no longer try to reverse the pro-impeachment position of the senate majority, Dilma Rousseff criticised part of Temer’s counter-reforms in her last speech. However, many of these attacks actually began with her political programme, and she made no criticism of herself or her Workers’ Party (PT) in this regard.
Discredited and without popular support – after going against her campaign promises and adopting the programme of her adversary (the right-winger Aécio Neves in the 2014 presidential election) – Dilma no longer had the political strength to carry through her project of cuts, privatisations and counter-reforms. This led the main core of the capitalist class to opt for a ‘new’ president, who moreover will not even stand for re-election (Temer’s term in office could last until 2018).
The big mobilisations against Temer since the beginning of the impeachment process showed the willingness for struggle and resistance by the working class. However, these mobilisations were directly or indirectly sabotaged or impeded by the leadership of the PT and its allies.
From the beginning, ex-president Lula da Silva and the PT opted for the road of re-building pacts with political forces in the congress and with big business. The vocation for class collaboration – which, in the end, is the fundamental cause for the failure of ‘Lula-ism’ – is ingrained in his DNA. These people do not learn and will not learn from their defeat.
The parliamentary coup denounced by Dilma in the senate was not confronted as it should have been by the leaders of the PT. The idea that the struggle against the impeachment meant only the return of Dilma already prevented these anti-coup mobilisations from having sufficient strength to defeat the manoeuvres of the right.
In this context, it is fundamental to defend a policy whereby the people have the power to decide who governs. In other words, to demand new, truly democratic elections.
When Dilma, following much resistance, accepted the idea of new elections (thinking this could win a favourable vote from some senators), her own party rejected the idea. The leadership of the PT and Lula were comfortable with the idea of Temer ruling until 2018, so that he could lose popularity and prepare the political conditions for Lula to return.
What a terrible daydream! If Temer manages to govern until 2018, he will put forward a historic series of attacks on the working class. Moreover, the offensive against those who rise up against this will not be negligible. For all that, Lula opts for conciliation. He is in the firing line for the “Lava Jato” corruption case, and is unlikely to get to 2018 still intact.
There is a strong cynicism in the policy of the leadership of the PT. The tough measures of Temer are still seen by the PT leaders as essentially a necessary evil. In that sense, for them, it is preferable that Temer promotes the counter-reforms. This frees the PT from the responsibility and allows the party to return to making left rhetoric, as it normally does in the run-up to elections.
There cannot any longer be illusions in the role of the PT leadership, either in the fight against Temer or in the building of an alternative left power in the country.
It is necessary to build a broad united struggle against Temer and his attacks. This unity in struggle should create conditions for a general strike.
However, it is necessary in this process to build a political alternative of the socialist left. This should involve PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty, the broad left party in which LSR participates), PSTU (United Socialist Workers Party), PCB (Brazilian Communist Party), and other socialist organisations and social movements like the MTST (landless workers movement), and CSP-Conlutas (left trade union federation), etc.
These are the tasks for the socialist left and activists in the trade union and social movements – of workers, young people, women, LGBT and all the oppressed. There is no time to lose!
Temer out! General elections now! General strike to defend our rights!