Note from BW of Brazil: It’s been nearly a week since President Dilma Rousseff was suspended for a period that could last up to 180 days while it is decided if she should be removed permanently. Rousseff’s suspension was approved after the Federal Government’s Lower House voted in support of impeachment procedures and then, last week, 55 of 81 senators also voted in favor of the process. But in a true example of Brazil’s history having been and continuing to be based on corruption, 12 of the 13 ministers nominated for interim President Michel Temer’s cabinet have been found to have accepted donations from companies involved in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the nation’s history, the so-called Lava Jato case. This besides the fact that yesterday, the STF (Supreme Court) initiated a process that would also open an impeachment against Temer himself!
Considering another case involving Federal Deputy and Speaker of the Lower House Eduardo Cunha (who led the charge for the impeachment of Rousseff) being suspended on May 5th due to the obstruction of investigations into bribery allegations and we can see that Brazilian politics is truly in a state of chaos right now.
As if all of this weren’t enough, many Brazilians and the international press also picked up on the lack of diversity of Temer’s cabinet, which features all white males. But if you’ve been a reader of this blog for more than a few months, an all-white cabinet at the highest level of power should be nothing at all surprising in a country where white supremacy is absolute!
A government of white men
by Marcio André dos Santos*
May 13, 2016. A day that should be of reflection because it is the official date that slavery in Brazil was abolished, much more for the convenience of the circumstances at the time than for alleged humanitarian gestures. Still it is an important date from the historical point of view, since it reminds us of one of the founding milestones of the Brazilian racial order and all that this entails.
Movimentos negros (black movements) and the most leftist segments of Brazilian civil society celebrate the 20th day of November as a day of struggle and permanent resistance of the black population. The day (in 1695) that Zumbi was killed and entered national history as a hero of black people and all Brazilians. At the same time, the resistance of the quilombolas (maroon society inhabitants) and all the enslaved as a reference in combating racism and racial discrimination practiced in the present is celebrated.
However, on this May 13th date, we have nothing to celebrate. We, blacks, women, the LGBT community, college students, high school students, cotistas (quota students), non-cotistas, formal informal, unemployed workers, social movements, in short, all those fighting for the expansion of rights and maintenance of an effective democratic country embitter a sense of outrage at the inauguration of the internal government of Michel Temer.
We are all mourning. All those who believe in republican institutions and bet on democracy as a guaranteeing foundation of social justice, racial and gender equality, development and solidarity in diversity. All those that recognize important social advances in recent years in the country, especially for the poorest.
The Dilma government has many problems and imperfections, this no one doubts. And a substantial part of these problems and imperfections is due to the supporters of the coup within the Congresso Nacional (National Congress) and the Câmara dos Deputados (House of Representatives), barring and making difficult and laws proposed by President Dilma. In other words, we can not only blame the lack of policy and slow decision-making ability to Dilma in order to dialogue with the opposition and with the government’s support base. We need to analyze the active role of right-wing opposition in the orchestration of the GOLPE (coup d’etat).
Despite several setbacks and numerous concessions made to opposition in the name of governability, the last governments of the Workers Party (PT) guaranteed a series of public policies of interest of the majority of the Brazilian people. It’s evident that all areas would need new adjustments, realignments, program improvements and investments.
The GOLPE perpetrated against President Dilma is actually an act of treason against all of us, against the Brazilian people in their totality and diversity. It is an act of betrayal of a political elite that didn’t know how to lose the elections in 2014 and in a purposeful way decided to boycott all government political processes to simply erode Rousseff’s legitimacy with members of parliament, voters and public opinion. This elite represented now by Michel Temer and his ministers, all male and all white, if it could, would re-establish slavery in one stroke of the pen in the same way that it extinguished on the first day of its coup government key ministries for the most vulnerable segments of the population (Ministry of Women, Racial Equality, Human Rights, Culture …).
Temer and his ultra-neoliberal would re-establish (or will re-establish?) the same inhuman conditions of the time of the military dictatorship, persecuting political opponents, blacks, the landless, women, homosexuals, lesbians and the poor in general. Morover this elite already does all of this, it’s not new!! The difference is that now, a consummate part of the GOLPE, this organized gang will have all the institutional conditions to roll back decades of progress.
The story repeats itself as a farce of the farce
In the country where the myth of racial democracy and hatred of political ascension of women are deeply rooted ideologies and values in the minds and in institutional practices of the Brazilian elites, racism and sexism reappear depending on the movement of the waves.
In another setback exposed by this illegitimate government (since it’s a coup, we cannot stop stressing this), no woman (white or black or indigenous) and no black or indigenous are among the ministers that make up the new government. Why would this be?
Michel Temer and his team chose only white men! It is the Governo dos Homens Brancos (Government of the White Men). A Ku Klux Klan supported by the oligopolies of communication with Globo (TV) organizations in front of the process and the big businessmen, landowners, large farmers, evangelical block, the bullet block and the whole gang of deputados (congressmen) and senators who want the return of darkness in the name of God.
It is now up to social movements and all of us, citizens who know exactly what the value of democracy, free voting and the Constitution are, resist and fight against the parliamentary GLOPE that we have seen on national television. It is the time that the left need to reorganize around social progress, human rights, racial equality, gender, and finally, guarantee the cidadanização (citizenship).
Temer has the support of business elites, bankers, large farmers, ruralists, the coup-supporting media and sectors of the white middle class. We have the substantive support of the oppressed sectors of the quilombolas, women and minorities. All these segments know full well that we cannot give up democracy.
- Marcio Andre Santos is a professor of Political Science at UNILAB (Malês campus), a poet, teacher, political scientist and activist of the black movement