London, March 31 2016
More than 200 Brazilians and friends protested outside the Brazilian embassy in London on March 31 against the threatened impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.
The protest, under the slogan Nao vai ter Golpe – No to the Coup was part of an international mobilisation for democracy that took place in 75 Brazilian cities and foreign capitals on the 52nd anniversary of the 1964 military coup which overthrew President João Goulart.
The mixed crowd who filled the small square across the street from the Brazilian embassy was made up of people of different ages, backgrounds and, above all, political positions. The protest was declared non-partisan. Although there were a couple of PT flags, there were many more Brazilian flags. The majority were not there to support the Worker’s Party (PT) or Dilma herself, but to defend the rule of law and respect for the country’s constitution.
There are absolutely no legal grounds for Dilma to be impeached. She has not committed any crime and is not being investigated in the Lava Jato (Carwash) corruption scandals, unlike many of those who are calling for her impeachment. It is a coup by the legislature, the judiciary and the media that has been fomenting from the day PSDB leader Aecio Neves was defeated by Dilma in the October 2014 presidential elections.
Film-maker Roberto Mader, who made the film Condor, on the joint operation by right-wing dictatorships in Latin America that enforced political repression and state terror in the Southern Cone in the 1960s and ’70s, was there. A former PT militant, he acknowledged that Dilma’s government was not what PT voters wanted or expected and that he and many others there were “very critical of the PT but were not going to allow our democracy to end. No Way! No to the coup!” The crowd responded and repeated “No to the coup!”
Mader also remembered that that federal police and public prosecutors have never had so much freedom to investigate as now, during the PT governments. Lava Jato investigations show that the bribery and corruption schemes at oil giant Petrobras date back to the years of José Sarney’s government (1985-90) and implicate almost all political parties in the country and many leading politicians, especially those who are now leading the drive to impeach Dilma.
Under previous governments, any attempt to investigate corruption schemes involving politicians was quickly stifled. Opponents of the present impeachment fear that once the PT is removed from government all investigations will be ended and everything will go back to what it was before. The right-wing opposition campaign, aided by the media, has worked to discredit the PT government with the elite and some sectors of society, and the impeachment is being presented as a solution to all of Brazil’s economic and political problems.
“The people who are conducting the impeachment process are the dirtiest people in the country”, said journalist Mauricio Moraes. “An elite which has been controlling the country for centuries and wants to regain power. An elite which cannot accept poor black people going to university or travelling by air.”
The mainstream media has a lot to answer for with its blatant incitement of hatred and violence against the PT and its supporters. Systematically running negative stories about the PT with malicious headlines and front covers of magazines, publishing non-stories about suspicions attributed to ‘an unnamed source’, or a “source close to the government who cannot be identified”. There are no retractions and no apologies for allegations which are later proven groundless and accusations which are proven false. Any accusations against the PSDB and the other right-wing parties leading the impeachment process are underreported and played down in the press.
The London demonstrators sang protest songs that marked the years of struggle against the military dictatorship. These included songs, censored at the time, by Chico Buarque and Geraldo Vandre’s all time classic “Para não dizer que não falei das flores”, “Just so you won’t say that I didn’t speak about flowers” which became the anthem of civil and student movement resistance against the dictatorship.
Protesters carried banners with phrases such as “Save democracy in Brazil”, “No more Coups”, “Dilma Stay, Cunha out”, but also posters calling for the demilitarisation of the police, an end to the genocide of black youth and for the full demarcation of indigenous land. There were placards, toop, denouning Brazil’s most powerful media conglomerate Globo, “Globo Golpista” (Globo the coup-monger)
Globo, it should be remembered, supported and was a beneficiary of the military regime. After stolidly denying this for nearly 50 years, in 2013 the media organisation publicly apologised in an editorial for acting as the propaganda arm of Brazil’s military dictatorship between 1964 and1985.
Video and images: Ali Rocha.