June Journeys – 10 years later

Image: Ekaterina Bolovtsova
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By CARLOS DE NICOLA*

It wasn't perfect, but we hope for a new June, to do it better

TRAVELING

When I filmed the mini-documentary scenes voices of June, the Brazilian situation was open. On the eve of the great demonstrations of June 17, 2013, experienced militants, novice activists and the people in general could not have imagined where Brazil would go.

I'm not among those who theorize June as a major articulation of the CIA, the US intelligence center. If all revolutions are impossible until they become inevitable, almost three decades after the beginning of the New Republic, with the 1988 Constitution, after relevant mobilizations on different fronts during the governments of José Sarney, Fernando Collor, Itamar Franco and Fernando Henrique Cardoso , and then, during the Lula and Dilma Rousseff governments, there was a temporary convergence, very ephemeral, but quite potent, in those days at the end of autumn 2013.

The opening scenes of the mini-documentary take place on June 13, 2013, the last act of the “normal” sequence of those Journeys – before the massification that occurred from the following act. Including, the police repression that made the footage shaky in those first seconds of recording was what triggered, a little later, the injuries to the reporter of the Folha de S. Paul, and photographer Sérgio Silva, who lost an eye in that same spot, on the corners of Rua da Consolação and Rua Maria Antônia.

The climate was one of fear because there had been repression in previous acts. The police are at my right side, on the sidewalk of Rua da Consolação, where today there are small shops and a newsstand. Then they fire rubber bullets at us at close range, causing panic. There was a blockade ahead of the act, because the rule anticipated by the authorities was that we could not go up to Consolação. We were cornered on that June 13th, with no chance of defense.

Zoom

Two women who appear at a glance in the scenes, militancy companions, became, years later, public figures and were elected to parliamentary terms. In a way, June has also been institutionalized, left and right.

One of the potential targets of that big act was the headquarters of the Globo network. As we pass in front of the station – in the mini-documentary is the video excerpt in which “Who doesn’t jump wants fare!” – we all wondered who would throw the first stone, or light the first flame. But the march passed on, impassive.

It is interesting to note that this hatred of the communication conglomerate, and, perhaps, to an extent, of all Brazilian corporatist media, was channeled, years later, by the extreme right and by Jair Bolsonaro. Perhaps one of the central proposals, which could galvanize the mobilization, was the democratization of the media in fact, with a national program of popular media, financing and promoting decentralized, community, radio, television, and social media collectives – collectives, until then , still nascent, but the Ninja Media already stood out.

José Luiz Datena's program on the afternoon of June 13, 2013, during the last act before the big marches, is emblematic: “Are you in favor of a riot protest? Yes we are". What was at issue was the mainstream media's definition of protest and turmoil, and perhaps a certain self-mocking irony on the part of the spectators, who were fed up with it all but weren't, as we weren't, capable of proposing changes. The same Datena is considered to be, who knows, a candidate for mayor in the São Paulo elections of 2024, with electoral potential.

“It's not just twenty cents”, another of the watchwords, did not really guide what was being mobilized – really, there was no strategic accuracy. Of the “routine” acts for quality public transport – agreed, and, on this point, we owe all praise to the Movimento Passe Livre (MPL) -, I myself remember participating in one of them in front of the City Hall of São Paulo in 2011 , we moved on, in the following marches, to a (merciless) critique of everything that exists.

I chose two songs to compose the soundtrack, one of them by a Brazilian group that I had seen at the São Paulo Cultural Center (CCSP) at that time, and I found it interesting, mainly because it used radio excerpts that referred to the military dictatorship. And the other, by Geraldo Vandré – the Vandré of the 1960s – who dialogues with another time, a present time on that Rua Maria Antônia.

Due to this strategic deficiency, less the fault of the MPL and more of the Brazilian left and its tactical and historical errors, the flag of Brazil gained prominence. In the absence of programmatic concreteness, of bases on which to rely, the people sought what they already knew, the empty, shelf patriotism, typical of the Confederations Cup that began in those weeks – although the target of criticism from the marches – and from the World Cups. of the World – that of Brazil would come in 2014, a year after those events.

The national flag was still floating, without the extreme right base that would hold the pole and make it burst on the heads of the most humble, gays, women and blacks, as it was done years later in the rise of Jair Bolsonaro. She was looking for an owner, an embouchure, a vocalization, perhaps a country project.

The young man, next to his partner, says that he was “one of those who only complained on Facebook”. In fact, this was one of the “narratives” present in those days: the people woke up, that is, mobilized, instead of remaining in lethargy, and left the networks – in which they remained increasingly alert, but still in a lower level than what we see today in 2023 with the discussions involving the Bill of Law fake news.

Years later, it was precisely the networks that played a central role in the election of an extreme right-wing leader who is, to some extent, the antipode of June 2013. Just complaining was also able to replicate and gain notoriety, in this case, with absurdly false news, but that found a propitious social base in the historical Brazilian conservatism, now high tech.

The rejection of the parties was present from the first acts, since the MPL carried an anarchist aura pending autonomism, often being diligent in emphasizing a supposedly “horizontal” character of the demonstrations.

What happened from June 17, 2013 onwards was something else, an organized rancidity against progressivism, on the right, mirrored in the government of Dilma Rousseff, and in her party, the PT. If I am not mistaken, the act following June 17th – perhaps June 20th, 2013 – was the one in which skinheads they surrounded the block on the party's left and “gently” ordered the flags to be lowered.

The anti-political discourse was also part of it, as can be heard in the interview with the man in the jacket. "Politicians enrich and reform their entire lives." We could have proposed a way out on the left, there were discussions about political reform, but they were all entrenched in power itself, in top-down schemes.

“Hey Haddad, I'm not mistaken, this increase is a toucan thing” can be heard at a certain point, and it echoes the anti-political discourse, insofar as if what is sold as progressivism is equal to conservatism, what is the role of participating in politics? Today, Fernando Haddad is called the most toucan of the PT, when articulating the Ministry of Finance of the Lula government. I remember the joint announcement by both Fernando Haddad and Geraldo Alckmin, mayor and governor of São Paulo, about the return to the R$3,00 transport fee after that great event on June 17, 2013.

Climax

In militancy there are days that last for years, and I can say that what I experienced and learned in those June 2013 Days has repercussions to this day. I remember that at the beginning, and sometimes in the middle of the acts, the MPL called “instant” assemblies, always from the most forward part of the march, to decide, for example, the continuation of the path, or what to do in the face of a police barrier. It was bizarre to say the least, in front of the Shock Troop shields, for people to bend down and start an elaborate discussion about the directions to follow.

After the massacre of June 13, 2013, which gained repercussions especially for hurting reporters from the mainstream media, the Facebook event of the following act – they were always on Tuesdays and Thursdays – began to gain exponential scale. For those of us who were on those struggle journeys, we didn't know what to expect. I remember a meeting in which a leader made this clear: “the business would be very big, the likes of which we had never seen before”. And the policy was right: our banner displayed the collective's website.

I remember being sheltered together with other people on that June 13th in a garage of an old building on a side street on Rua Augusta – I think on Rua Antonio Carlos. The Shock Troops kicked ass outside, and we waited. Until the building's caretaker came with the bad news: we had been reported by neighbors, and we would have to leave. We were literally handed over to the lions – luckily the pack had already moved on.

The opening scene on June 17th, of the group arriving at Largo da Batata, and the crowd growing larger, is quite impressive, because it reveals its almost incalculable size. That afternoon anything could happen.

Anticlimax

I remember to this day the impact that was a headline of the Estadão, following the 2014 elections: the “elected National Congress is the most conservative since 1964”. How was it possible? At what point, between the concentration of the acts of June 17, 2013, in Largo da Batata and the elections, did the country march even more to the right?

The scene of people meditating amidst the chaos in Largo da Batata recalls the disputes in those Journeys, a reflection of the national depoliticization that preceded June 2013. There were the pacifists, we can call them that, who rejected the traditional forms of mobilization, the words of order, a certain offensive character of a mass act, which requires guidelines, which calls out, summons, apprehends, appeals. It was a group, or sector, that still exists – perhaps it has become stronger – that believes only in changes in the way of life, individually, step by step, and not in collective mobilizations. They reject the nomenclature of “masses” vehemently, as if there is a sacrosanct individuality in capitalism. In any case, the scene is picturesque, absurd. Wonder where they went when the asphalt began to heat up under thousands of feet? “Here begins peace”, one of the posters.

Os black blocks were perhaps the most famous characters of those Journeys. I remember marching in the center of São Paulo and, before the big act on June 17th, getting goosebumps every time someone suddenly threw a few punches at a newsstand, or blew up some rubbish along the way, concentrated as I was on knowing where the police would strike first.

Credits

Even today I find myself wondering where those interviewed went. I failed to collect people's contacts, but at least we know who Laerte is, and we can say that he remained in the field where he was, alongside the progressives who perhaps, at least in that June 17 march, were in the majority.

But, what about the others? Those two friends walking along Avenida Faria Lima, repeating the most widespread slogans: “There is no police, there is no violence!”. Where did they go 10 years later? And that young couple demanding more democracy, what choices did they make? I make the self-criticism that there was a lack of black people, more trans men and women, and other people. The social profile was similar among those I asked, but the big shots don't lie: June was quite diverse, at least in São Paulo, where it is said to be the biggest act that afternoon.

An enraged gentleman shouted against the stadiums of the future 2014 World Cup – another of the watchwords – “Health and Education FIFA standards!” materialized, albeit abstractly, the desire for better quality public services and, even more subjectively, the control over these services, and the right to dictate the course of one's own life, without economic, gender oppression. , of race, and others of the regime of capital. Why were we unable to establish a tangible program? “Everyone holds on to each other”, was what we were able to formulate in the face of fear on that June 13th. The air was very heavy, the police had promised not to accept the walk.

Was June a waste for the left? No. The street marches themselves, although they never even came close to gathering what was gathered in those afternoons, were better organized. There were many acts, from all kinds of sectors, sometimes at the same time. The institutional left has managed to recycle itself in part, given the space that the PSOL has obtained since then.

Discussions such as the Right to the City, among others, have gained space in society, despite little relative advances with regard to urban mobility, for example – conversations by the current Lula Government about tax exemption for cars demonstrate this difficulty.

Right June was capitalized? No. I remember how the Military Police of São Paulo advanced in repressive techniques. One or two years later, those war uniforms appeared, futuristic armor to make the policeman's body a piece of iron. The dispersion techniques – in fact, the implosion of demonstrations, especially those organized around tariff increases, as in 2015 – were frightening.

The massive acts for the coup against Dilma Rousseff, also in 2015, echoed what we did on those afternoons in June 2013, but with a different content. The “spirit of June” if it is possible to say so, is insurgent, “open” although without tangible definitions. What happened on January 8, 2023, in Brasilia, was a rehearsed and facilitated parody around works of art.

It wasn't perfect, but we are waiting for a new June, to better do it, and why not, to register it.

Carlos DeNicola is a member of the socio-environmental movement.


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