On Saturday, three weeks after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseffs re-election by a slim margin of 3.28 percent, some 3,000 right-wing protestors gathered on São Paulos Avenida Paulista for a demonstration to call for the presidents impeachment.
The crowd carried banners and placards alleging electoral fraud, corruption, and incompetence on the part of her government. Some even branded Rousseff a communist or a terrorist — referring to Rousseffs past as a left-wing guerrilla — and a small but noticeable minority advocated an intervention by Brazils army and a return to military dictatorship.
The march was the second conservative anti-government demonstration in São Paulo since the election, and came just days after another demonstration on Avenida Paulista brought together thousands of left-wing supporters of the increasingly powerful Homeless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Teto, or MTST).
The marches indicate difficult times ahead for Rousseff, who lacks support in the National Congress and has only limited backing from the left beyond her own Workers Party (PT).
“Its worrying that President Dilma has not signaled that the government plans to pursue a progressive agenda,” MTST leader Guilherme Boulos remarked at his groups march, criticizing the PTs lack of focus on reform despite its new four-year mandate.
Meanwhile, many of Saturdays conservative protestors associate government programs such as the Bolsa Família, which distributes cash benefits to the poorest Brazilian families, with the radical left agendas of Cuba and Venezuela.
“I know what the PT wants to implant in this country,” Maria Lucia Monteiro, a 61-year-old teacher, told VICE News during the march. “It suits them to plunge all of us into poverty, not to lift people out of it.”
Monteiro was among many protestors alleging electoral fraud in the recent elections. “I kept quiet after the last two elections,” she said. “They won, and its what the country wanted. But I dont believe in this result.”
Many of the marchers allude to rumors circulating online and videos purporting to show electronic ballot boxes counting phantom votes. Fueling suspicion on the right, the opposition Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), whose candidate Aécio Neves finished second, called for an official audit of the election results. Brazils Supreme Electoral Tribunal rejected the petition because of a lack of evidence beyond speculation on social media, but agreed to release the result to the PSDB for it to carry out its own audit.
“Theres a lack of trust on the part of the PSDB, and a lot of resentment too,” Carlos Melo, a political scientist at São Paulos Insper business school, told VICE News. Rousseffs election campaign included a number of unsubstantiated statements about her opponents, including that Neves planned to discontinue Bolsa Família. The PSDB, Melo noted, is far from being a right-wing party.
“Its a center-liberal and progressive party,” he said, pointing to former President Fernando Henrique Cardosos moderate PSDB government from 1995 to 2003. “The election campaign was very aggressive, particularly on the part of the president,” he added. “Nevertheless, the PSDB has offered no proof as yet that there was any illegality in the electoral process.”
On the other hand, corruption is a charge Brazilians are taking seriously. The long-running “mensalão” corruption scandal, which revealed that members of Congress had received monthly stipends to vote with the PT government, was overshadowed this year by what is being called the “petrolão.” The scheme involves money laundering and the payment of massive kickbacks to PT and coalition party officials using resources from the state oil company, Petrobras.
Its one thing for a sector to be dissatisfied with the outcome of an election, or for there to be political or electoral problems. Thats democracy. Whats not democratic is to ask for the army to intervene.
Some of the protesters at Saturdays march cited the petrolão as justification for a possible military coup.
“I dont agree with the need for military intervention — yet,” Paulo Gomes, a 54-year-old musician and blogger who participated in the demonstration, told VICE News. “Its the last recourse. But the provision for military intervention is right there in the constitution, in case one of the three powers — executive, legislative or judicial — should usurp one of the others. The executive has done that by buying the legislative in the mensalão and in the petrolão, by paying the opposition to vote for them.”
Saturdays march coincided with smaller demonstrations in Rio, the federal capital of Brasília, and other cities, exhibiting a deep sense of resentment on the right as well as the lack of any obvious candidate to channel it.
“Theres a crisis of representation here in Brazil, as in the USA, Europe, and elsewhere,” Melo said. “Its a structural problem of the modern world. The parties no longer represent everyone, leaving some to seek to represent themselves in these chaotic forms.”
Printed placards carried by some demonstrators read “S.O.S. Armed Forces: Enough! We want a fundamental cleanup, and power back in 90 days.” A smaller number carried hand-lettered signs calling for the return of the Comando de Caça aos Comunistas (Communist Hunting Command), a far-right militia from the 1960s.
At one point, the demonstration was marred by a brief assault on press photographer Marlene Bergamo, who had been videotaping a group of skinheads confronting bystanders amid cries of “comunista!
“We’re calling for a constitutional intervention by the armed forces for 90 days, until the situation is regularized,” a woman holding one of the “S.O.S. Armed Forces” placards told VICE News.
The call for a transitional military government is familiar to students of Brazilian history. The 1964 military junta came to power as an interim government, promising elections within six months — and then stayed in power for 21 years.
Mauricio Moraes, a former BBC Brasil journalist who recently ran unsuccessfully for Congress on a PT ticket in São Paulo, told VICE News that Saturdays demonstration echoed calls in 1964 for the removal of President João Goulart. “The rhetoric is quite similar,” Moraes said. “They both claim to be for God and the family, and they both called the president a communist, a terrorist.”
Goulart was deposed by a military coup in April 1964 and went into exile in Uruguay and then Argentina, where he died in 1976.
“Its totally irresponsible to seek military intervention,” Melo said. “Its one thing for a sector to be dissatisfied with the outcome of an election, or for there to be political or electoral problems. Thats democracy. Whats not democratic is to ask for the army to intervene.”
Fonte: VICE News – 19/11/2014.
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