Apr 25, 2016
On the evening of April 17th, during a dramatic parliamentary session, 367 deputies voted to impeach the president, with 137 voting against and seven abstaining. This new step doesn’t end the political crisis which has shaken Brazil for months, but it speeds up the eviction from power of Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party (PT).
Lining up one after another at the podium to justify their vote, sometimes decked out in the national colors, the deputies put on a rather unappealing spectacle. They vehemently denounced corruption, while up to the last minute they sold their votes for the promise of being a minister. All the parties arguing for impeachment, the right wing parties and the PMDB (Movement for a Democratic Brazil Party) which just left its alliance with the Workers Party, are notoriously corrupt. One far right wing deputy dared to dedicate his vote to the memory of Colonel Ustra, the well-established torturer and personal tormentor of Dilma Rousseff during the time of the military dictatorship (1964-1985).
This statement indicates one aspect of this crisis. It is the revenge of all those who never supported a party that came from the workers’ movement and that brought together active opponents to the military dictatorship which had come to power. The Workers Party was chosen by the working people, even if it defended the fundamental interests of the wealthy.
The mass demonstrations organized by those supporting impeachment, and given big coverage by the media tied to right wing parties, have let loose all the wealthy. The petty bourgeoisie is struck by the crisis which has sharply hit Brazil since 2014. They only remember the policy of the Workers Party, while Lula was president from 2003 to 2010, a period of economic prosperity, when he raised the lowest pay and gave subsidies to the poorest families. As a couple of government employees told a French newspaper, “Brazil is a poor country. We can’t give what we don’t have.” A journalist translated this in a way that makes sense, “They didn’t like the Workers Party preventing them from getting rid of a low paid maid, who remains in their home.”
But just as meaningful in this political crisis, the Workers Party wasn’t able to mobilize the working classes to support Dilma Rousseff in the same proportion as the right wing parties did. With reason! Why should the workers march to support a president who cut national health and education expenses in her budgets, who cut government jobs and who ended cost of living adjustments in the minimum wage while inflation is 10% a year? Why would they want to support a party which greatly profited from bribes paid by the national oil company Petrobras while this same company got rid of 170,000 jobs in two years and while unemployment is exploding?
The Workers Party enjoyed an immense credit among workers, due to its history and what its main founder had done. This credit, Lula (former metal worker and strike leader, becoming president of Brazil), then Rousseff used for 13 years as the head of the State to serve the interests of the owners of mines, agribusiness, and many other sectors whose business has boomed. Before the economic crisis hit Brazil, the Workers Party was able to devote a very small portion of this wealth to relieve a little the immense poverty of this country. But today this is over and the credit is used up.
The competing parties profited from this to sound the alarm on the Workers Party. They strongly denounced the “economic interventionism” of Dilma Rousseff who “frightened investors.” They will closely pursue the Workers Party’s policy, apart from some things. But in order to profit fully from the multiple perks that the power at the head of this immense country can offer them, they didn’t hesitate to unleash a political crisis.
The workers and the oppressed needn’t cry over what happened to the leaders of the Workers Party, which doesn’t represent their interests at all. They need to give themselves the means to organize themselves and to defend themselves in the merciless class war that the bosses and the next administration, whatever it is, will lead against them due to the economic crisis.