On August 31, 2016, élite, conservative and corrupt forces took back power in Brazil in a coup that removed Dilma Rousseff from her presidency. The normalizing of this coup through narratives qualifying it as impeachment [English in original – trans.] is aimed at concealing the grim dynamics that have consolidated it. We stand here in opposition to this euphemism, and insist: It was a coup d’état!
We are joining with those who denounce this new form of parliamentary, judicial and mediatized coup. There are differences between this it and the military ones that took place in Latin America in decades past, which were characterized by the use of armed force to seize and impose power. The current form of coup, on the other hand, uses the strength of desire of the masses, which is manipulated by the medias through the construction and dissemination of a fictional narrative of a crisis with uncontrollable consequences, mobilizing fear and debilitating us. The image of the crisis is accompanied by the figure of a scapegoat, in this instance the collective one of president Dilma, her party, the PT, and above all its leader, ex-president Lula. The cause of this crisis is projected onto them. The fiction and its main characters are constructed with information chosen by the judiciary, starting with police investigations, in order to give them a mask of credibility. Little by little, the fiction is being adopted by the population and being taken for truth, offering a remedy to relieve fear and frailty: the destruction of the scapegoat. Brazil’s Parliament took action to wield the blow at the moment in which the trend was shared by the majority, thus guaranteeing its alleged democratic legality. The substitution of armed force by the force of desire is a need of finance capitalism because military dictatorships merely hamper its free circulation. The new capitalist régime needs a minimal and flexible state – a neoliberal state –, which sells off the country’s economic patrimony and grants free passage to international capital to interfere and take power over the local economy. Its goals include, among others, the precariousness of labor as a form of exorbitant accumulation, which is nothing other than a contemporary version of the primitive accumulation generated by slave labor. Suffice it to say that, despite the fact that the measures of Dilma’s government clearly benefited the business class (the Banks have never been so wealthy), this sector actively participated in constructing the coup. Nonetheless, it is necessary to point out that this new procedure of capitalist power does not eliminate the old procedure of repressive military force – an active residue of Latin America’s dictatorships – but adds to them. Direct violence is systematic in the process of implementing finance capitalism. Weapons are used in many facets of military power: on the fringes, always shooting and killing – usually targeting the black population – but also function as a tool of repression in the streets, in the movements against the coup in the form of the extreme violence of police forces currently trained by the army with new strategies and new technologies. The free flow of finance capital depends not just on neoliberal states, but also resorts to the force of arms in poor countries and on the peripheries, in order to maintain them as a source of maximum extraction of capital gains, to avoid their rebellion and to keep the areas that dominate access to and circulation of capital “clean” and “safe”. To cite just two examples, let us recall, on the one hand, the U.S., European and Russian weapons intermittently bombing Syria and other countries, creating masses of migrants and other forms of death. On the other hand, we know that “coups” are frequent in the peripheries of various countries in Latin America, and that, in many cases, rights and resources never arrive.
The new type of parliamentary, judicial, and media-covered coup was previously implemented in Honduras (2009) and in Paraguay (2012). In the same way as in Brazil today, the appearance of constitutionality masked the rupture of democracy and the same method is gradually being adopted in other countries of Latin America, paving the way for imminent coups. In Brazil, the parliamentary “trial” that removed Dilma from the Presidency of the Republic, was launched with judicially inconsistent accusations, without proof of the crime of responsibility, as is provided for by the Brazilian Constitution of 1988. To a greater or lesser extent, the ministers of the Federal Supreme Court acted in partisan fashion, thereby weakening the country’s presidencialist system – which is based on an Executive, Legislative and Judicial balance of powers. The obvious lack of legitimacy created an institutional void that could only favor conservative forces, giving greater and greater space to moralistic authoritarian intolerance toward minorities and the cancelling out, through the monopoly of the large mass media, of any counter-information. However, concurrent demonstrations of resistance and the alternative media continue to expand, with the aim of reversing the systematic effacement of demonstrations of resistance, as well as of the positions that differ from the dominant fictional narratives. But above all: judgment is passed without proof, based at most on what they agree to call “convictions,” which are nothing more than manifestations of the same ideology which gave rise to the fiction created to legitimize the coup — the ideology of neoliberal capitalism. This is manifestly a coup of finance capitalism in all its international power which is now colonizing the entire planet.
Only through the mechanism of indirect elections — which is what the alleged “impeachment” signifies — did Michel Temer manage to become president of the Republic. And with the same lack of legitimacy, he formed the most machista, ignorant and conservative government since Brazil’s military dictatorship, made up solely of men – white men at that – many of them involved, moreover, in trials for corruption. The first day of his illegitimate government, with the same strategic authoritarianism, Temer decreed the shut-down of the Ministries of Women, of Racial Equality and of Human Rights, in addition to barring or merging other ministries, and replacing six of the 16 members who made up the Amnesty Commission of the Ministry of Justice, instating 20 new members, among them military who took part in the country’s dictatorship. Among these new ministers, he appointed Alexandre de Moraes for Justice, an ex-secretary of Security in São Paulo known for administrating one of the most violent and repressive crack-downs against demonstrations protesting against neoliberal policies. He is also accused of corruption in his handling of public school snack programs, which prompted secondary school students to undertake one of the most powerful resistance movements in the current state of affairs.
Once again, a coup in Brazil favors the concentration of incomes and personal, corrupt enrichment amongst its perpetrators, responds to the interests of an anti-democratic system, oppresses the poorest classes, as well as of various minorities and shows a total absence of respect for the most basic premise of democracy: the election of Dilma Rousseff in the presidential elections of 2014, by the direct vote of Brazilian citizens.
What’s to Be Done?
This sort of authoritarian and corrupt reaction occurs in close relation with a new stage of the neoliberal plan and the growth of the right in our continent, together with its brutal conservatism. The élites cannot bear the spread of public access to education and the exit from poverty of thousands of people; these facts bear with them a spectre of the threat of loss of symbolic and territorial power of those élites. On the other hand, over the course of the last years we have witnessed the emergence of various leftist partisan fronts, social movements, minority struggles, precarious workers self-organized groups, among others. They are attacked by right-wing ideologies, ideologies of those that cannot bear the emergence of new political subjectivities, which are experienced as the threat of the collapse of their world.
In this way, the duel shapes up as one between the consolidation of the neoliberal plan, marked by the minimization of the social welfare state and the politics of resistance which aim to guarantee basic rights, and reasserting a democracy which allows access to material and immaterial common goods. We place ourselves on the left, and take up resistance as a constant movement. We shall continue to resist historical oppressions, and the violent new waves of neoliberalism.
Confronted with this scenario, we also recognize the limits and contradictions of the institutional left in Brazil and the South American continent in general. To consider them merely “victims” of the maneuvers of the forces toppled from power is, to say the least, a simplistic vision. Many parties were, to date, unable to break with the dynamics that favor the concentration of power in making the wrong alliances and moving along the paths of the “democratic” institutionality that is the stock in trade of neoliberalism and of traditions of political behavior of colonial origin. They didn’t embody more radical demands for transformation. It is necessary that these parties conduct a thorough review of their histories and their actions, their errors and their correct decisions. Nonetheless, beyond them, it is fitting for us to think of forms of political action that break with the limits of the traditional left; thinking, for example, of other ways of leading the State, without being limited to it; forms that would be the result of a “society in motion” and which would not be reduced to “social movements” that take the State as a main objective.
The swift and brutal turn to the right that is taking place today in Latin America – after a series of important reforms and social conquests – comes about through the doctrine of “shock and awe” (Klein, 2007). It is thus that a cry goes up to join forces against the effects on our bodies of that shock and awe doctrine applied to our continent ever since the coups d’état of the 1960s and ’70s and based on the execution of a set of rapid, violent, intimidating actions – disproportionate and unexpected – to paralyze the adversary’s understanding and destroy his will to fight.
“FORA TEMER!” is the cry going up today, with increasing strength, in the streets of Brazil. “Fora Temer!” means “Down with Temer!” but also “Down With Fear!” With that cry we are saying that we will in no way allow a return to the coronelismo, the élitism and the various microfascisms taking hold as a direct response to the irruption of new political subjectivities, strengthened by public emergency policies and actions echoing social demands. Those actions have been implemented by left governments repairing, as yet in an incipient fashion, the effects of centuries of colonialism on our continent. The challenge lies on the horizon of the resistances to colonialist, slave-holding tradition, present in the individual and collective existence of our continent, and in new forms of political composition.
The Call “DOWN WITH TEMER! DOWN WITH FEAR!”
From the Red Conceptualismos del Sur, we are calling for a campaign of international graphic activity demanding a full, radical democracy, justice and the protection, maintenance and expansion of rights. This is a summons for the free expression both of doubts and of desires, both of fears and of courage, both of immobilization and of creative imagination. An act of solidarity, with proposals for strategic struggle, for encounters, forms of being and doing that echo the voices that are resisting this state of things in a stronger way than the deafening noise of the mass communications media and the anesthesia they produce around them. (Send your graphic works to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Baffled as we are by this disastrous repetition of the irruption of antidemocratic forces once again in 2016, we must say loud and clear: ¡Fuera el temor! Down with fear! — it is the condition by which the cry ¡Fuera Temer! Down with Temer! can materialize in actions of effective transformation.