Getúlio, Jango and Lula

Clara Figueiredo, untitled, essay Films Overdue Analog photography, digitized, Florianópolis, 2017


The elites of backwardness always reacted violently against all those who tried to break with the national ills

Even knowing that history does not always repeat itself, it is necessary to go back to the past to better understand the impasses of the present and the resistance that prevent the birth of a new era.

In the sad Brazilian history, backward elites have always reacted violently against all those who tried to break with the national ills, even if in a moderate way. Leaders and parties that supported or fought with the workers, constituting them as political actors, who dared to build a less unfair and economically sovereign country, are always intolerable for today's conservatives as for those of the past. In a society where slavery is still present in the minds of the ruling classes and a large part of the middle classes, where indifference to inequality is the hallmark of their feelings, where workers' political participation is not understood as a right, but as one more of the many privileges that oligarchies do not waive, the past insists powerfully on surviving.

Guaranteeing labor rights, even if in a controlled manner, doubling the minimum wage as Getúlio did in the distant 1st. of May 1954, support the struggle for agrarian reform and the distribution of land to those who worked on it, as Jango tried to do in his government, ending hunger, reducing poverty, including poor and black people in higher education, which Lula and Dilma managed to make a reality, carrying out minimally necessary policies that make a country civilized, are here tolerated by the reactionaries. These always react and seek at all costs to prevent them from taking effect. Even if for that, they have to transform their defenders into figures to be destroyed and removed from the political scene: From tragedy to farce, they took Getúlio to suicide, Jango to exile, Dilma to impeachment and Lula to prison.

It never hurts to remember that in 1950, when Getúlio was beginning to prepare to return to power by electoral means, Carlos Lacerda, one of the best-known spokespersons for the reactionaries at the time, declared in the press: “Getúlio cannot run, cannot be elected, if elected, he cannot take office, if he takes office, he cannot govern”. With that, he outlined the itinerary of the political reaction that would strike Brazilian democracy, not only against that president, but against all popular leaders (rhetorically disqualified as populist) who dared to alter the established order. Intensifying the crisis that would lead Getúlio to suicide, his opponents shouted against corruption and the “sea of ​​mud” in the Catete palace, just as Jango’s opponents, preparing the civil and military coup of 1964, also shouted against the “unionist republic ” and the “communist threat” that supposedly that ruler represented.

Today, the intransigent rhetoric of conservatives adds another cliché, more compatible with neoliberal times: “Lula is a risk to the economy”.

Faced with this history that never ceases to repeat itself, it is up to us – those who share the project of building another reality for our people and our country – to shed light on the political struggle of the present with the teachings of the past. With the hope that the future will not bring us, as it has until now, only tragedy and farce. And who knows, who knows, a broad democratic alliance may materialize to overcome barbarism.

*Maria Rita Loureiro, sociologist, is a retired professor at FEA-USP and FGV-SP.






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