6th January 2019
The largest economies in both North and South America are now under the control of deranged right wing, anti-people populists, avowedly anti-socialist, anti trade union, anti climate change, anti abortion and generally anti progress in the interest of ordinary people, of any kind. The United States has already suffered two years of the presidency of Donald Trump. Some mitigation, in the form of Democrat control of the House of Representatives, may be in prospect but that has yet to be tested.
This month saw the inauguration of Jair Bolsonaro as the president of Brazil. Bolsonaro’s election is the culmination of a creeping right wing coup in Brazil which began with the demonisation and imprisonment of Workers Party president Lula de Silva, followed by the impeachment of his successor Dilma Rouseff on trumped up corruption charges.
The main ‘crimes’ of these Workers Party presidents had been to enact policies which began the shift in the distribution of wealth, away from the banks and corporations in Brazil, and towards the poor and disenfranchised. Following the ongoing example of the Cuban revolution, the Chavez government’s transformation of Venezuela, the progressive polices adopted by Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Evo Morales in Bolivia, the long term ‘loss’ of Brazil to the international corporations was too much to contemplate.
In his swearing in address Bolsonaro promised to help Brazil free itself from “corruption, criminality and economic responsibility and economic submission.” For Bolsonaro this translates into plans to allow commercial mining and farming on protected indigenous reserves. Little wonder that the powerful agribusiness sector in Brazil, for whom he has promised “less bureaucracy”, have given him its backing.
Bolsonaro has already ditched plans to host a key UN climate conference next year and has appointed a foreign minister, Ernesto Araújo, who regards climate change as a Marxist plot.
Bolsonaro’s social agenda takes little working out from his promise that,
“We have a unique opportunity before us to reconstruct our country and rescue the hope of our compatriots. We are going to unite the people, rescue the family, respect religions and our Judeo-Christian tradition, combat genre ideology, conserving our values.”
His appointment of anti abortion evangelical preacher, Damares Alves, to head a new ministry overseeing families, women, human rights and indigenous communities reinforces the reactionary nature of Bolsonaro’s programme.
The link between Trump and Bolsonaro is by no means fanciful with Trump heralding Bolsonaro’s “great inauguration speech” and the Brazilian president responding that,
“I truly appreciate your words of encouragement. Together, under God’s protection, we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people.”
On his first day in office Bolsonaro immediately reduced the proposed increase in the minimum wage, an adjustment which will immediately impact upon 48 million workers in Brazil.
Bolsonaro has expressed support for the military dictatorship which ran Brazil from 1964 – 1985. His vice-president is retired army general, Hamilton Mourão.
The Workers Party continue to lead resistance to the Bolsonaro government and, through the Popular Committee for the Defence of Lula and Democracy, the ongoing campaign against the imprisonment of former president Lula and the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. Progressive Brazil is in for a long struggle.