By Joshua Tartakovsky
May 7, 2016
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment is being backed by members of the Senate and Congress, yet Dilma, a seasoned fighter, seems to be able to find tricks to hang on a little longer, violating the illegal impeachment. Most recently, the attorney general said that her impeachment was illegal and now Eduardo Cunha, speaker of the house, was ordered by the court to leave his post due to accusations against him. Dilma is likely to be able to hang on for a while, but not for very long.
The central question for the confused Brazilian people is where to go from here.
First, we must dispel certain illusions and comfortable notions on President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. What we are witnessing is not just the cynical and unconstitutional removal from power of a president who was elected by the people but also the deafening silence of the so-called democratic western world as the Brazilian right-wing, with its bloody history of dictatorships and torture, seeks to grab power undemocratically once again. Of course, this is a very uncomfortable time for liberals. They would like to grab onto every small piece of evidence that convinces them that the world has not gone mad, that sanity prevailed, that the New York Times or BBC really cares about democracy in Brazil and will criticize undemocratic violations, whether they come from the Left or the Right. But that is not what we are seeing.
Glenn Greenwald for example, argued that the New York Times makes clear that those who carried out the impeachment are corrupt themselves. He found his moment of victory. But a closer reading reveals the opposite. Yes, it is true that the New York Times said that the people who carried out the impeachment were themselves guilty of corruption. However, in the same article, the New York Times has given equal credence to the opinion of others who argued that Dilma’s impeachment is legally valid and acceptable. The reader then is left with a confused state of mind and does not know whom to believe, but remains unaware of the actual injustice taking place, namely the unlawful impeachment of a president who was elected by 54 million Brazilians.
In other instances, the New York Times provided the wholly inaccurate impression that Dilma is corrupt or that the accusations against her are valid, although that in itself is a partisan view as she has not been convicted of any wrongdoing. Similarly, it disingenuously created the impression that Lula is corrupt.
Greenwald also noted with joy that “Even The Economist, which has long despised the PT and its anti-poverty programs and wants Dilma to resign, has argued that “in the absence of proof of criminality, impeachment is unwarranted” and “looks like a pretext for ousting an unpopular president.” But that is a truly naïve argument. Since the very same article by The Economist argues that Dilma must resign now, mentions only anti-government demonstrators, and says that Dilma’s resignation is what Brazil needs now, as if The Economist suddenly found in its heart great love for the Brazilian poor majority. On what basis does The Economist demand the resignation of a president of a sovereign country? If Dilma’s impeachment is unwarranted as it claimed, why must she resign?
When the New York Times conveys the impression that both Dilma and her impeachers are corrupt, where does that leave us? With an apathetic stance towards the actual violation of democracy. With a post-modern indifference to any notion of truth.
This is not to argue that The New York Times, The Economist or the BBC must take a dogmatic partisan line. But why the double game? Why to claim that Dilma’s impeachment was wrong but then that she must resign? Why to argue that Dilma’s impeachers are corrupt, but so is Dilma, when she has not been found guilty?
Those who seek to blow smoke in our faces, to leave us confused and unable to see clearly that an illegal and undemocratic coup is taking place, are those who now adopt the ‘neutral’ position while failing to analyze more deeply. And yet, again disingenuously, leading western media outlets refrain from taking a blatant anti-governmental line in the case of Brazil and instead choose to sow confusion and provide false impressions, thereby leaving us numb to the actual violation of democracy, in real time.
Needless to say, at a time when 90% of the US media is owned by six corporations, and when BP has an active interest in Petrobras (it was absent from the Pre-salt talks, however) we can only guess that leading financial interests are hoping to dispose of Dilma, privatize the country entirely, impoverish its residents, and take over Petrobras.
The President of the federation of industries of the State of São Paulo (FIESP) said in the past that a worker does not need an hour of lunch, workers can operate the machines and eat their sandwich at the same time. This is the kind of life Brazilian workers can expect in the coming years. And worse.
Where does this leave Brazilians?
For one, Brazilians need to realize that the world will not save Dilma. And her going to the UN to appeal to states, while seeking to circumvent the vote in the Congress, was outright pathetic.
Secondly, western financial elites probably see Brazil as an easy prey precisely due to the way Brazilians tend to abhor conflict and do not like to riot. Western financial elites most likely have believed that the impeachment will pass by fairly peacefully and a new government will be planted quickly. They may well see Brazilians as people who can be easily pacified and have no dignity.
Brazilians may be wise to learn from the example of Israel. Israeli settler youth in the occupied west bank have taken on themselves to inflict damage to Palestinian land or violence against Palestinians in response to any action Palestinians took against Israelis. This modus operandi has been named “Price Tag”; it left the settlers hated and demonized worldwide, but they have been successful. The government fears them and has not evacuated them from their homes. They may not be well-liked but at least they are respected, or feared. And they achieved their political goals which is to make an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank nearly impossible.
Brazilians should consider adopting a price tag policy following the illegal impeachment. That would mean making the impeachment as difficult and painful as possible. We have already seen how in Brazil students have occupied high-schools and MST is threatening to boycott new elections as illegitimate. Indian indigenous movements fought against agribusinesses takeover of their lands. Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto and Movimento dos Sem Terra may block roads. They are connected to the governing PT, but need to realize that it’s now or never. The goal must be to make a return to normalcy as difficult as possible and disrupt ordinary life. A price tag for impeachment.
This would achieve several goals:
- It would radicalize the population further so that they will be able to resist future inhumane decisions by the government and will not be subject to serfdom.
- It will complicate the plans of the western financial elites which hope for an easy takeover of the country and will put hurdles in their path thereby winning time for the Brazilian population. It will also make them think twice about carrying out such plans in the future elsewhere.
- It will restore dignity to Brazilians and remind others that Brazil though a young democracy still is a democracy and its citizenry will not tolerate illegal coups.
Brazil in particular, and Latin America at large, should not be seen as a ‘pacified’ continent with a submissive population that can be manipulated at ease.