|Military Judges Hid Their Faces As They Sentence Dilma To Prison And Torture 1964|
|Brazil June 2013|
President Dilma Rousseff was a self proclaimed Marxist rebel who participated in the1960’s struggle against Brazil’s dictatorship. She was sentenced to two years in jail where she was tortured. But now she is President of Brazil and protects and defends the capitalist class. As a member of the bourgeoisie she belongs to the elite global grouping known as the G-20.
While the people of Brazil are rising up and the police are violently attacking them she had remained silent. But just as in Turkey when the police attacked peaceful protests the numbers who participate only multiplies. The press speculated that she was perplexed as thousands turned into hundreds of thousands demonstrating in the streets. They were outraged at the increase of bus and train fares, lack of public services like education and health care, and the amount of public money going to build facilities for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Before their swing to the right her party, the PT (Worker’s Party) had a demand for free transportation. Now the people also demanded money for schools and hospitals and challenged the money spent on the World Cup.
On June 17th, 300,000 people throughout Brazil took to the streets. In Sao Paulo and Rio the main highways were paralyzed and they marched to Ponte Estaiada, a monument to rich property speculators. In Belo Horizante where there was a football match for Copa das Confederacoes in a new modern stadium, more people protested ouside than watched the game inside.
There is anger by some that the ruling party PT (Worker’s Party) has moved to the center, some say it has become a capitalist party. Also they are furious that those convicted of bribery are not in jail. This anti-party mood has made room for some right wing provocateurs who have attacked left wing party banners and flags. Because of this move by some, the more moderate left wing parties and social movements and trade union groups started joining the protests to prevent the right wing from gaining influence. Also the continuing heavy handed excesses of the police brought more people out.
The two main social struggles in recent years are the indigenous fight with agribusiness and the urban poor who have resisted the rampant property speculation. In addition there are strong social movements around issues like public transport, reproductive rights, the environment and LGBT rights.
These movements combined with the high hopes that change would come from the PT which actually was brought to power by the social movements and CUT (Confederation Of Trade Unions). But now the party has turned to the developers, agribusiness and construction. Andre Ferrar of the LSR (Liberty, Socialism, Revolution) puts it this way, “This movement wants to redefine “development” and “inclusion” to redistribution of wealth and power. One slogan says it, ‘This is not about cents - It is about rights’.”
Miguel Borba de Se in an interview with Jacobin put it this way: “People are sick of elites. That is why the escalation has been so rapid.”
President Rousseff was much criticized for her silence the past week as the people demonstrated and protested her policies and as her police force used tear gas and pepper spray and rubber bullets. This brutality only made the uprising bigger.
When she finally spoke last night (6/21/13) she was vague. She spoke generally about a plan the government will have to address transportation. She said they will develop a plan to invest oil revenue “royalties” in education. She did not talk about nationalization. And made no promises about jail time for those convicted of bribery of public officials.
Maybe the major omission was the brutality of the police. As a Marxist rebel who opposed the brutal military dictatorship she was imprisoned and tortured by the police. But she said absolutely nothing about the police behavior in the past week.
The protests continued today despite her attempts to appease.
Maya Fernandes (medical student): “Dilma is underestimating the resolve of the people on the corruption issue. She talked and said nothing.”
Dadiana Gamaleliel (32 year old physiotherapist) held a banner, “Not against the games, in favor of the nation”. About Rousseff, “She spoke in a general way and didn’t say what she would do.”
The police estimated 250,000 marched today. A group of 30,000 gathered in southern Brazil where a nightclub fire killed 240 students. The protesters said it could have been avoided if there had been more government fire inspectors.
The protests will continue. One of the main questions now is if CUT will call a General Strike. There have been rumors and every time the Union Confederation denies it.