Still 2013

Image: Elyeser Szturm
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By Luis Felipe Miguel*

AMPL leaders can be criticized in different ways. It's a good topic for debate. But you can't call them the fifth column, traitors, Yankee agents, etc.

When the demonstrations broke out in 2013, I sided with the “skeptics”, so to speak. While some friends hailed the outbreak of the popular revolution, I thought that a movement so lacking in organization and leadership would hardly have the strength to be more than the punctual expression of a latent dissatisfaction. am old fashioned too much to think otherwise.

I wasn't able to predict the 2013 capture from the right, but when it did, it seemed pretty obvious. The MPL did not have the strength to lead such gigantic protests. The parties to the left of the PT also lacked the social base to do so.

And the PT itself was in a complicated situation. It was a target of dissatisfaction since it controlled the federal government. And the initial reaction of Fernando Haddad, then mayor of São Paulo, to the claims did not contribute to legitimize the party as an interlocutor, quite the contrary. (Recalling that 2013 neither started nor ended in São Paulo, but it was the São Paulo demonstrations that gained national attention and, thus, transformed that moment into the wave that it became.)

There is, however, no indication that the 2013 demonstrations began as part of the coup, as former president Lula said in an interview with Telesur. There is no indication that public transport movements were at the service of right-wing groups or US imperialism, or infiltrated, or manipulated.

Absolutely nothing supports such a thesis. Not proof, not even convictions.

There is an enormous difference between a mobilization being captured by the right and being conceived, triggered or sponsored by the right.

Lula's statements, therefore, were enormously irresponsible (to use a mild word).

And the use of an old interview by Elisa Quadros by part of her shock troops, an interview defending and passant the release of someone who many years later turned out to be a far-right terrorist can only be called a bastard.

Elisa Quadros may have been naive, hasty, unaware, radicaloid, the scam, just as the leadership of the MPL can be criticized in many ways. It's a good topic for debate. But you can't call them the fifth column, traitors, Yankee agents, none of that.

It is much more honest to recognize that, long before they were taken over by coxinhas mobilized by Rede Globo, the 2013 demonstrations took to the streets a mass of dissatisfied with the limits of the Lulista arrangement.

Offer of jobs, yes, but with low qualifications and low wages. Social inclusion, but more through consumption than through the provision of socialized services. Combating poverty, but living with profound inequality.

And the city space, the fulcrum of MPL's agenda, is where the various asymmetries – class, gender, race – and the violence associated with them are clearly manifested.

The Dilma Rousseff government and the PT, unfortunately, preferred to contain the movement and focus on minimizing damage for the elections of the following year, instead of seeking a real dialogue with the streets, which would allow a change in the current arrangement, under more favorable conditions. to the popular field.

Perhaps a different disposition, on the part of the government and its party, would have made it difficult for the right to capture the protest. But it's easier to blame the protesters.

The demonization of 2013 by Lula follows this logic. The people on the street disturbed the government, jeopardized re-election, and were therefore at the service of opponents.

It is melancholy to see the greatest popular leader in our history, forged in the memorable days of 1978, outright condemning popular demonstrations, as if they were “obstacles” to political action.

It is the ultimate demonstration of the total and absolute conversion of Lulism to institutional politics, the one that begins and ends at the ballot box, in parliaments and in the courts. Which, incidentally, leads to a poor prognosis for the necessary resistance to ongoing setbacks.

This is the drama of the Brazilian left:

On the one hand, despite loose statements that allow for a glimpse of something different, but which soon dissipate, Lula keeps both feet planted in the strategy of successive accommodations – whose exhaustion, however, has been fully proven since the 2016 coup.

On the other hand, Lula remains the greatest depository of two virtues that the Brazilian left desperately needs: the ability to communicate with the broader masses and the sense of urgency, of seeking immediate answers to pressing problems, instead of designing scenarios great for an indeterminate future.

* Luis Felipe Miguel Professor of Political Science at UnB.

Originally posted from Luis Felipe Miguel's Facebook.

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