intemerates people

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By SAMUEL KILSZTAJN*

The youth of the June 2013 Days dignify the human condition, fearless people, in the words that Antonio Candido used to refer to the young people of the 1968 Journeys

In Brazil, Dilma Rousseff assumed the Presidency of the Republic in January 2011, under the legend of the Workers' Party - PT, in government since 2003. The Jornadas of June 2013, like all irruptions, came when and from where nobody expected; and stunned politicians from all parties, from left to right. The June Journeys had as their starting point several acts against the increase in public transport fares, starting in 2012 in Natal, Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Goiânia.

In São Paulo, the demonstrations, led by the Movimento Passe Livre – MPL, began to gain strength on June 6, 2013 (Fernando Haddad had been elected mayor in 2012 by the PT with 56% of the valid votes). The movement, positioned to the left of the PT, was repressed by the police forces; and the mainstream media and the PT were categorically against the “troublemakers” (in this particular case, it is worth remembering that the universal left only exists in the minds of the right). The heat of the Journeys can be experienced in the mini-documentary voices of june by Carlos De Nicola.

On June 14, the mainstream media reversed its discourse, starting to support the demonstrations (against the PT government) and the middle class joined the movement in the streets. The mainstream media and the middle class discovered that they had something in common with the rioters who positioned themselves to the left of the PT, all of whom were against the PT government. Finally, after the movement gained mass proportions, the Workers' Party capitulated, revoking the increase in fares and proposing to meet demands for improvements in transport and other public services.

After 50 years, the right-wing middle class returned to the streets en bloc for the first time since the Marcha da Família com Deus pela Liberdade in 1964, which requested the removal of João Goulart from the presidency of the country and opened space for the intervention of the military in a coup d'etat. In 2013, the right-wing middle class lived as prisoners in maximum security residences or in closed condominiums, frequented shopping malls protected by private security, would not use public transport even if it was free, nor the public health service (which is free), he avoided stepping onto public roads, he avoided anything public that, in addition to being precarious, would put him face to face with poor, black, ugly, dirty and evil people.

The right-wing middle class, which had already done a lot of providing jobs and having to put up with the presence of its semi-literate black housemaids and other servants, who it insisted they wore neat uniforms, allegedly took to the streets, a space until then considered by it to be for the exclusive use of beggars and commoners, to demonstrate in favor of repealing the increase in public transport fares and against the repression of troublemakers.

However, what most bothered the right-wing middle class, ensconced in its culture of privilege, was the presence of the plebs in exclusive territory of the country's elites, such as airports and public universities (now yes, because quality teaching is very Dear). Taking advantage of the movement to the left of the PT against the PT government, the middle class, encouraged by the big reactionary media, in addition to leaders trained by international right-wing organizations, discovered, learned to go to the streets, stole the scene, occupied the space and placed the movement to the left of the PT to run, from a corner, out of the field. In addition to banging pots every day at dusk, taking to the streets wearing T-shirts with the colors of the flag became his favorite thing to do on weekends. Dilma out, PT out, Lula in jail, because a thief's place is in jail, and Lula really wants to steal the privileges of the Brazilian middle class, doesn't he?

Far-right organizations, alongside the mainstream media, parliamentarians, police forces and the military, demonized the Workers' Party as corrupt and Lula as a prisoner, because corruption would have to be the privilege of the PMDB and the other parties, all of whom support of the already historic PMDB file of corruption. And the good-natured Brazilian people do not tolerate corrupt people, especially PT corrupt people, who could not lower themselves to the dominant expedient in politics and society; in addition to which the mainstream media, in a biased way, highlighted the corruption of the PT.

The Workers' Party, in government, did submit to the dominant expedient in Brazilian politics. The corruption scheme, perfected by the ingenious PMDB politician Orestes Quércia, consists of guaranteeing both an “indirect salary” to parliamentarians and funds for campaigns in favor of preserving the parties in power. A parliamentarian who perhaps refuses to be shined will be cluttering the box of the respective party. Thus, politicians only deign to work if they are shined. Parliamentarians would not even deign to read any amendment, proposal or matter if they were not “duly” remunerated for doing so. And, for the PT to be able to govern, it would necessarily have to submit to the dominant expedient in national politics.

The government's corruption scheme is not limited, of course, to the parliamentarians' monthly allowance. The entire state machine is oiled by contractors and other companies favored by executive spending, which finance party funds and the “indirect salaries” of ministers, secretaries, public officials in positions of trust in charge of signing payment orders, in short, of all the structure of government, from the president to ushers. If any executive who is very proud of his integrity feels offended and refuses to dance to the tune, the state machine itself will take care of discarding him as a castaway from this efficient production line.

Following the removal of Dilma Rousseff, the allegations of corruption involving President Michel Temer, affiliated with the PMDB, were disregarded by the parliamentarians, because Brazil, at that point, could not tolerate another impeachment (and the main objective, to remove the PT from the power, had already been achieved). Lula was arrested in order to make it unfeasible his participation in the 2018 elections and not because he was corrupt (if they were to arrest all corrupt politicians, there would not be one left).

After eliminating Lula's competition in the 2018 elections, Jair Bolsonaro was elected with 55% of the valid votes. In the 2022 election, to defeat Jair Bolsonaro, it was necessary to form a broad articulation around the Lula candidacy, which brought together the PT, the leaders of the Jornadas de Junho, the other parties of the left and politicians who until then, on the right, they were strongly opposed to the Workers' Party, like Geraldo Alckmin – and, even so, Lula won the elections by a small margin. After four years with Bolsonaro in the presidency, on January 8, 2023, the extreme right, not happy with the results of the 2022 election, decided to climb the federal government ramp by force.

Although the right has articulated and gained enormous political space in the country, authentic leaders were forged in the June Journeys. Politically, something new seems to be looming on the horizon. The Jornadas woke up a group of people on the left of the PT, who engaged in the civil society movement and today, ten years later, are present in various national spaces. These young people, who took to the streets, defying the government and the police forces, experienced detachment, freedom, the joy of living and solidarity, "Everybody holds on to each other", where everyone is seen as equal, they go head to head up and look each other in the eye. The young people of the June 2013 Days dignified the human condition, fearless people, in the words that Antonio Candido used to refer to the young people of the 1968 Days.

*Samuel Kilsztajn Samuel Kilsztajn is a full professor at PUC-SP. Author, among other books, of Shulem, Returnees and Yiddish (https://amzn.to/3ZkegH7).

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