The volume entitled International Resistance to the Brazilian Coup of 2016 has been launched in Brazil and other countries. It includes texts by a number of internationally renowned intellectuals, Brazilianists, journalists, writers and politicians.  This book represents the third installment of the trilogy A Resistência ao Golpe de 2016 (The Resistence to the Brazilian Coup of 2016), an immediate response to the recent political machinations that plunged the country into a tumultuous parliamentary coup.  This third volume, which focuses on the international response beyond Brazil, offers a collection of essays, official documents, interviews and poetry, a body of work that serves to document the injustice being committed in Brazil and to diagnose solutions for the current crisis, which will only become more dire should the democratically elected president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, be impeached.  At this critical time, the book is itself evidence of the tremendous international solidarity that has arisen in response to the coup and in support of democracy.  International Resistance to the Brazilian Coup of 2016 will soon appear in bookstores around the globe. 

 Here is the list of participants, more than 100 authors, most of them from outside of Brazil, denouncing the coup:

Adolfo Perez Esquivel (ARGENTINA) ● Alberto Filippi (ITALY/ARGENTINA) ● Aline Dell’Orto Carvalho Romon (BRAZIL/FRANCE) ● Amílcar Salas Oroño (ARGENTINA) ● André Gonçalo Dias Pereira (PORTUGAL) ● Andreas Novy (AUSTRIA) ● Antonio Baylos (SPAIN) ● António José Avelãs Nunes (PORTUGAL) ● Armelle Enders (FRANCE) ● Atilio A. Boron (ARGENTINA) ● Azadeh N. Shahshahani (USA) ● Baltasar Garzón Real (SPAIN) ● Bernardo Kucinski (BRAZIL) ● Bernie Sanders (declaração) (USA) ● Bethania Barry (IRELAND ● Boaventura de Sousa Santos (PORTUGAL) ● Camila Vollenweider (SPAIN) ● Carlos Augusto Gálves Argote (COLOMBIA) ● Carol Proner (BRAZIL) ● Charlotth Back (BRAZIL) ● CLACSO (LATIN-AMERICA) ● Costas Douzinas (ENGLAND) ● Edileny Tomé da Mata (SAN-OME AND PRINCIPE) ● Enrique Cabero Morán (SPAIN) ● Eric Nepomuceno (BRAZIL) ● Esther Solano Gallego (SPAIN) ● Fabiana Rousseaux (ARGENTINA) ● Fernando Nogueira da Costa (BRAZIL) ● Filipe Galvon (FRANCE)● Flávio Aguiar (BRAZIL/GERMANY) ● Francisco Delgado (CUBA) ● Francisco Louçã (PORTUGAL) ● Francisco Sierra Caballero (ESPANHA) ● François Houtart (BELGICA) ● Friedrich Müller (GERMANY) ● Gabriel Rocha Gaspar (BRAZIL/FRANCE) ●Giacomo Marramao (ITALY) ● Giani Tognoni (ITALY) ● Giovanni Alves (BRAZIL) ● Gisele Cittadino (BRAZIL) ● Greg Grandin (USA) ● Héctor Olasolo Alonso (SPAIN/COLOMBIA) ● Helga Dressel (GERMANY) ● Henrique Paiva (BRAZIL) ● Hilary Wainwright (ENGLAND) ● Ignacio Ramonet (FRANCE) ● Jaime Fernando Cárdenas Gracia (MEXICO) ● James N. Green (USA) ● Joana Mortagua (PORTUGAL) ● João Ricardo Wanderley Dornelles (BRAZIL) ● Johnny Lorenz (USA) ● José A. Zamora (SPAIN) ● José Carlos Moreira da Silva Filho (BRAZIL) ● José Luís Fiori (BRAZIL) ● José Manuel Pureza (SPAIN) ● Juan Sebastián Medina Canales (EQUADOR) ● Juarez Tavares (BRAZIL) ● Juliana Neuenschwander (BRAZIL) ● Juliette Dumont (FRANCE) ● Julio Peña y Lillo E. (EQUADOR) ● Katarina Peixoto (BRAZIL) ● Larissa Ramina (BRAZIL/FRANCE) ● Laurence Cohen (FRANCE) ● Leandro Gavião (BRAZIL) ● Leandro Monk (ARGENTINA) ● Leonardo Padura (CUBA) ● Ligia Chiappini (BRAZIL/GERMAY) ● Luiz Alberto de Vianna Moniz Bandeira (BRAZIL/GERMANY) ● Manifesto Senadores Franceses (FRANCE) ● Manifesto de Políticos e Intelectuais Britânicos (ENGLAND) ● Manifesto SPD (GERMANY) ● Manuel E. Gándara Carballido (VENEZUELA) ● Marcelo Ribeiro Uchôa (BRAZIL) ● Maria José Fariñas Dulce (SPAIN) ● Maria Luiza Pereira de Alencar Mayer Feitosa (BRAZIL) ● Marília Carvalho Guimarães (BRAZIL) ● Marilza de Melo Foucher (FRANCE) ● Martonio Mont’Alverne Barreto Lima (BRAZIL) ● MBSocial (SWITZERLAND) ● Michael Löwy (FRANCE) ● Michele Carducci (ITALY) ● Miriam Madureira (BRAZIL) ● Montserrat Ponsa Tarrés (CUBA) ● Naomi Klein (USA) ● Noam Chomsky (USA) ● Nora Merlin (ARGENTINA) ● Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (INGLATERRA/COLOMBIA) ● Movimento Democrático 18 de março (MD18) (FRANCE) ● Paulo Pimenta (BRAZIL) ● Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro (BRAZIL) ● Paulo Teixeira (BRAZIL) ● Pedro Carlos da Silva Bacelar de Vasconcelos (PORTUGAL) ● Pedro de la Hoz (CUBA) ● Raúl Veras (MEXICO) ● Renan Quinalha (BRAZIL) ● Ricardo Franco Pinto (BRAZIL) ● Ricardo Lodi Ribeiro (BRAZIL) ● Samuel Pinheiro Guimarães (BRAZIL) ● Sérgio Costa (BRAZIL/GERMANY) ● Sue Branford (ENGLAND) ● Tânia Maria S. de Oliveira (BRAZIL) ● Tarso Genro (BRAZIL) ● Tatyana Scheila Friedrich (BRAZIL) ● Vanessa Oliveira (BRAZIL/FRANCE) ● Wadih Damous (BRAZIL) ● Walter Antillón Montealegre (COSTA RICA) ● Wilson Ramos Filho (BRAZIL) ● Yara Frateschi (BRAZIL).


My contribution to the volume:

The reason why we resist: the time of Dilma Rousseff

Katarina Peixoto1

History is the struggle for the past. This current boutade is more fruitful than intuitive, which is to say, among other things, that history is an experience of the present and always of the present, and it is through this experience and its normative shock that we are provided the milestones necessary to make out the past. And none of these things are easy to see in the context of a daily and exhaustive struggle into which Brazil has been thrown these last two years, even for people who uphold democracy and did not diminish themselves or submit to the avalanche of destruction and fear perpetrated by the leaders of the coup and spreading over the whole country.  The reader can follow throughout this book, A Resistência Internacional ao Golpe de 2016, which includes interviews, manifestos, an International Court Decision, essays, articles and poetry, what Amartya Sen calls “the plurality of reasons” for the denunciation of a flagrant injustice: the illegal impeachment of Dilma Rousseff.  Represented in this book are several ways to approach what is happening in Brazil today, all with the aim of diagnosing and highlighting the rapacious destruction currently in progress, and also pointing towards ways we might resurrect our rights under a constitutional order.

In each and every one of the documents is the expression of the commitment to the temporality and to the experience embodied in the figure of Dilma Rousseff.  She is a most unusual political figure in Brazilian history: the first elected (and re-elected) female president; a leader formed by the armed struggle against the last dictatorship; an economist, and, as she likes to put it, the heir of the labor movement in Brazil and the legacy of Getúlio Vargas, the legacy of seeing clearly the very idea of the nation state.  Dilma Rousseff is responsible for each and every one of the inspiring initiatives to transform Brazilian society on a grand scale during these past 13 years.  She is responsible for countercyclical programs, the politics of recognition and the expansion of the scope of human rights, and she is responsible for the strengthening and consolidation of a certain institutional stability now violated. Unpolluted and not messianic, Dilma caused and causes consternation in the country’s political forces, and her tenacity insists in directly addressing those commited to the coup and bothering the harbingers of an unprecedented persecution against her. In the political war into which the country was plunged, the figure of the woman has never held such centrality.  She’s been called everything from “unprepared” to “the mad, furious communist,” not to mention, of course, the insane accusation that she is guilty of any crime.

To each and every one of these villainies, Dilma has responded with uncompromising republicanism and moral character. Dilma has a rare ethos, the ethos of someone who has given herself to a greater struggle. She is virtuous and at the same time immersed in history.  Consequently, from the very beginning of procedures of this legislative coup, she has devoted herself to a kind of pedagogy of resistance: in every speech, she patiently denounces the inconsistencies and ultimately the absurdity of the charges. She clarifies point by point, undoes any mirage of consistency in the fallacious charges that constitute the macabre scheme of her supposed “crime of responsibility,” a crime that never existed.  And she continues defending democracy, suffrage, policies aimed at the realization of the nation state, one that is democratic, united and sovereign.  To say that Rousseff is innocent is correct, but it’s not enough.  Dilma is virtuous to such a degree that she acts with a clarity possessed by very few, amid the enormous political instability into which all of Brazil has been thrown.  She remains level-headed, which seems even a bit odd, if not passive.

However, we should not deceive ourselves with this figuration, which has been, in most cases, contaminated by misogyny, estrangement and bewilderment before those who recognize the republic as an end in itself.  The oligarchies supporting the coup carry, in the eyes of history, the stain of shame, the stain of conspiring against democracy and against a woman who was elected and has committed no crime. These facts exist in a temporality that is not expressed in the newspapers and televisions of Brazil, which are manipulated by an oligarchic media, nor is it expressed in the spectacularized electoral game. These facts exist in history, a time in which reason is finally realized, as someone famously said.  And so we must resist.

One of the greatest merits of this collection is that it considers in statements made in the past as well as current testimonies, charged with affection, the commitment to democracy in the present. This commitment has a moral and political nature, without borders, and a distant look carries the possibility of clarity often forbidden to us, amid the instability in which we now find ourselves. And there is also the emotional, sentimental and biographical link of exiled Brazilians and foreigners who monitor and resist the destruction of the Brazilian constitutional order. With the strength of solidarity, intellectual commitment and generosity that are the values of democracy, our democracy, young and now crepuscular, will be embraced by the resistance and will survive the disaster that has been announced.  It’s no small matter to document what we are living through – nor is it common.

This is the third part of a trilogy of collected papers documenting with rare rigor and commitment the state of the ongoing destruction in Brazil. The coup against the expansion of rights and opportunities achieved after years of resistance to dictatorship becomes every day clearer and more shameless.  We won the semantic battle over the coup, and the usurpers assisted in an unprecedented way by clarifying: the country is now ruled by an usurping occupation force that was not elected, this group imposes on us a political project that had been repeatedly rejected at the polls, and according to final court decisions regarding the interim government, the leader of this process is ineligible to govern.  They intend to rule as if there’s no tomorrow, because they know they do not have tomorrow.  Therefore, they are prepared to liquidate the past and the conditions that make possible our fight for the past.

For us, the editors of this book and for many of the authors, nothing like this has been seen or experienced in Brazil during our lifetimes. But for many of those who are with us in International Resistance, this story is a variation of a persevering theme, a kind of repetition. As in all repetitions, it has its own peculiarities and similarities with the past, and these show up in the plurality of approaches represented here. There are repetitive elements such as the fall in commodity prices. The characteristic speculation of the oil crisis of the 1970s has gained a new guise: more war, and a more clearly political and insidious attack against the economically fragile democracies of Latin America.  The analysis of what’s going on against Brazil and Venezuela today does not make sense if we do not consider oil, especially future reserves and pre-salt technology, in any diagnosis.  We also live in a framework of exacerbated tensions, increasing instability and the advance of authoritarian and obscurantist forces in the USA, Europe and the Middle East, whose precedents are also from the late 70s. The big difference today perhaps lies in a heightened simultaneity and in the dynamics of our communications systems and in the consolidation of democratic and intellectual devices which were not available to combat threats to democracy in the past.

The scope of the current degradation will not be clarified without keeping a watchful eye on the weakening of our democracy. This brittleness became evident in our two dominant markets, which lack any democratic control or regulation, as if they they were truly shadow markets. It is from there that the greatest attack on our democracy arrives. These are two markets where regulation remains postponed and disregarded, even by leftists, who until recently were accomplices in, or hostages of, the blackmail produced by their characteristic games:  campaign financing and the market of information. According to data from the Supreme Electoral Court, the presidential election of 2014, from which Rousseff emerged victorious and was re-elected with more than 54 million votes, votes now canceled by the coup, cost more than 500 million reais. This figure reveals a great challenge for Brazilian democracy: first, one must question whether there is a real need for such a high cost in an election.  Second, whether this cost is derived from the weakness of our democratic consciousness and from the absence of a truly open and public culture of debate. Third, we must interrogate why democratic governments that have obtained parliamentary majorities have not dedicated themselves to regulating and disciplining these markets (by establishing a ceiling for campaign spending, for example) when they had the strength to do it.

There are other issues, of course, but the aforementioned ones would initiate a democratic discussion. The second shadow market is the market of information, i.e. the media. In Brazil, there is not, strictly speaking, a communications market. There is a peculiar and pre-modern oligarchical-familial system that advocates for a kind of slavery in our work relations and, at the same time, seeks to defend ultraliberal ideals. The power of these ultra-rich families was forged during the last dictatorship, as is the case especially with Globo and the Network of Southern Brazil (RBS, in Portuguese). There are seven families that establish all the guidelines, decide the headlines, and run television stations, newspapers, radio stations and news agencies that do not answer to anyone, are poorly taxed (when they are not evading taxes), and constitute a veil of ignorance and racist hatred against what it is democratic, popular and institutional.

These two shadow markets are reported on, analyzed, diagnosed and discussed in the texts organized in this collection. And this discussion includes analysis by survivors of the last dictatorship, university professors, renowned researchers, Brazilianists, lawyers, jurists and politicians who offer a look from the outside at the state of these dark arts now threatening our democracy. These shadow markets allowed the values of democracy to be depreciated and even ridiculed, while those of individualism and ultra financial liberalism have been taken as measures of what Brazil deserves. These values finally penetrated into the externalities of the intellectual life of the bureaucrats and the jusnaturalist mind of our juridic system vested with statutory functions in such intensity that they began to circulate freely, as if they held autonomy and could rule despite our constitutional order. And so the country witnesses this unprecedented attack on what is historically democratic and legitimate, such as the basic idea of the republic, the prerogatives of the separation of powers and the fundamental principles on our constitution.

Thus the current usurpers, the occupying force in Brazil, reveal that the country’s oligarchies abdicated the electoral process and nullified suffrage as the ultimate criterion of legitimacy. Their agenda, now unfolding, depends on the regression of our democracy to levels that are unprecendented, going back four generations. And the re-installation of the Institutional Security Office, the so-called National Intelligence Plan, and the occupation force of the coup’s Justice Ministry all point to a nationally coordinated repression effort, one organized by the Palacio do Planalto, the headquarters of our federal government. They have destroyed the right to legal criminal proceedings, and they have regimented substantive law into procedural law in an ilegitimate way, the result being a kind of invasive arbitrariness in the controls and balances of the institucional framework of the country.

That is why documenting our resistance has historical meaning. At this very moment, these days prior to the expected consummation of the coup, which they allege is irreversible, it behooves us to remember why we are right to resist. This country, the Brazil that is threatened by the current coup, is a country that exterminated endemic hunger and, in a brief interval of time, promoted the highest degree of social mobility in human history. It is the country that rescued from misery and poverty the equivalent of the population of France, in an interval of 10 years, maybe less. And it increased investments in research and culture, it significantly increased the number of poor students enrolled in universities and expanded university campuses, offering technical courses and the largest public housing program in the history of the country. It is the country that has officially recognized racism and has designed specific policies to combat it. And it is the country that, despite its atrocious, disgusting and ecumenical machismo, apparent across the political spectrum, has elected and re-elected a woman to the highest office of the Republic, an election now threatened.

Compared to the Brazil of the last dictatorship, this continental country is now more developed, more dynamic, more literate, more politically organized and with more doctors available to the public. We are richer, and we have more self-awareness and more political and popular organization than we had in 1964. Unlike the Brazil of that time, we do not have a country of promise only. In a country that has been so unfair to its underprivileged, we have had an experience of unprecedented transformation.

There will come a time when the struggle for this past will be won by us, the unredeemed and the resistant who are represented in this collection of documents. There will come a time when the extent of change, according to the before and after, as Aristotle reminds us, will become clear. Then, it will be the time of Dilma Rousseff, in the history of the reconquest of democracy, which is the beginning and the end of what inspires us.  Until then, as we travel this path, we follow on the right side of history, just as Dilma continues to remind us. 

Katarina Peixoto received her PhD in Philosophy from the Federal Univesity of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).  She is one of the organizers of Resistência Internacional ao Golpe.