protesting in church

Clara Figueiredo, - so what_, digital photomontage, 2020
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By ALEXANDRE MARUCA*

The councilor who promoted a pro-life demonstration is threatened with impeachment

True or not, the parable of the frog in hot water is representative of a symptom present among us: that any more active movement can stir up and give strength to the opposing field. Better to settle down and not mess with the hornet's nest that is our conservative society, because in the end the counterrevolt will be great and they will always win. To die slowly, without fanfare, that is the alternative.

It turns out that, without denying the countless advances of an economic and social nature that we have had, what we have seen in the 13 years of leftist government in Brazil has been a significant increase in mass incarceration, removals and police punitiveness. If, without prodding the jaguar, we have not made progress in reducing the mortality of blacks, the poor, women, indigenous peoples and the LGBTQI community before, why believe that now it will be different?

The reactions to the just protest against the violent death of Congolese Moise and Durval Teófilo Filho inside a church of black origin at the weekend, led by councilor Renato Freitas, are symbolic in this regard. The two black characters who were abjectly killed in the State of Rio, as is known, were killed because of racist components, which devalue the black body to the point that projectiles and sticks are used without any shame against marked subjects. The same racism that led to the construction of churches like those in Curitiba, as the white community did not admit mixing in our colonial past, which is constantly present. Today, white attendees are offended by what they call the invasion of God's house by people claiming life and justice.

Councilor Renato Freitas has experienced the marks of discrimination in a violent way on several occasions. Last year he was attacked and arrested by municipal guards who saw him as a dangerous subject for participating in a protest against the president who defends guns. A black councilor arrested and handcuffed in the middle of a demonstration is an explicit example of the racism present in the country. It is not enough to hold public power. Some signs such as skin color and the group to which he belongs (in his case the PT) are enough for the so-called forces of order to feel empowered to unload an entire accumulation of hatred generated over time.

Returning to what happened last Saturday, there is an emptying of meanings related to the church of Rosário dos Pretos and its reason for existing. The countless Rosário churches spread across the country are symbols of resistance and socialization of slaves prevented from attending places used by light-skinned families. Why not use a place, whose origin is linked to black lives that resisted, to complain about the violent and inhuman deaths that dark-skinned people still go through today? There is even an emptying of the original meaning of the doctrine of the Christian church. After all, doesn't the story on which Christianity is based tell that the messiah of Jerusalem preached in favor of the poor and against violence?

Obviously, the expected reaction from the right to attack the movement led by Renato is not surprising. What draws attention is the continuity of the discourse on the part of the left, which fears that any bolder attitude is capable of provoking undesirable reactions. Obviously they will, but what makes you believe that self-indulgence will bring us to fruition? Recent history shows that it does not.

Examples of condemnation by the left of more combative mobilizations are plentiful. #elenão would have helped elect Bolsonaro; to set fire to a statue that represents killers of indians in the middle of São Paulo is to give a weapon to the enemy. The message is: remain silent, without disturbing institutional policy.

Institutional policy that has not been able to truly change the situation of repression over the same as always in the recent period governed by the left.

Someone might say that you can't fight with the numbers: Bolsonaro improved in the 2018 polls after #elenão. Even if this direct cause and effect relationship can be considered true, what to do then? Better not to tension so as not to run the risk of the result being inconvenient? Why raise opposition flags to the unfair conditions of everyday life (and this is one of the great mottos of the left) if, from the outset, attention must be paid to the limits imposed precisely by those who do not want change? Institutional limits, electoral limits, party limits, meanwhile mortality does not cease.

There are risks involved in taking more direct actions, but there is also a risk, and it's a big one, in keeping the rules of the game the way they've always been. One of the major impasses posed in recent reality is how to mobilize the oppressed masses to defend their rights and democratic rights in the face of violence of all kinds: institutional, social, police, etc. One of the ways to do this is to mobilize, raise awareness, expose, even if this brings immediate unpleasant consequences, such as changes in voting intentions.

It is also worth reflecting on the destinies of the left in the country. What's the use of being raised to power again if you're not able to build up the strength to press for change? It is known the difficulties in promoting significant changes to the legal and social orders in Brazil. The attacks came and will come from different sides and betting again only on agreements of the most diverse colors may be a path that will lead to a past not of good times with low unemployment and a fast economy, but to a past of dark times that led governments and leaders of the PT walking on their knees, being removed from power, being arrested. Times are different, much more difficult, as everyone knows. If we cannot and should not close our eyes to the need for political agreements, it is also time to put aside the fear of exposing ourselves and face the risks of raising essential debates, however covered by fears, apprehensions and agreements.

It is even repugnant to see parties completely aligned with the current government, which promotes death in different ways and makes frequent use of the aesthetics of the gun, considering the impeachment of a councilor who promoted a demonstration in favor of life. The time is now to defend Renato Freitas, not to leave him in the lurch, as some opinions point out.

There is one more component this year, which is the proto-fascism that surrounds us. This is undeniable. The need to withdraw from this government that attacks life in every way is real, but fascism does not end with Bolsonaro. Will a change of government be enough without a social base of support? This social base can be conquered or regained by exposing the wounds that so afflict this country, which was born to be exploited and remains so until today.

There are risks along this path, as is well known, but the path of conciliation has already been taken, thinking it to be the safest, which did not prove to be true. That is, there are also risks in remaining inserted in the current institutional design. And while the fight for numbers continues, people continue to die, suffer, being stepped on, kicked, raped. Deaths in silence: this is the result forged by a self-indulgent attitude that echoes on many sides.

Returning to the parable of the frog, it would be better if the water in this pot were boiled enough to make him realize the trap he was in. The lull is capable of killing more than the boil.

*Alexander Maruca He holds a degree in social sciences from the University of São Paulo (USP).

 

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