An insane and genocidal government

Image: Luiz Armando Bagolin
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By JOÃO PEDRO STEDILE*

In defense of the popular front against the crisis and the effects of the pandemic

The year 2020 was marked by three main facts that had enormous consequences for the lives of our people: the capitalist economic crisis, the spread of COVID-19 and the impact on society and the behavior of an insane and genocidal government, with its fascist methods of governing for a minority of fanatical supporters.

The capitalist crisis installed worldwide since 2008 has worsened in Brazil since 2014. Since then, the situation has deteriorated even more with neoliberal measures that only protect financial capital and international corporations.

Last year, the Brazilian GDP fell by 5%; the rate of productive investments to leverage economic growth dropped to 15,4% (we already had 21% in 2013 and, in the golden years, it reached 30%).

Even foreign capital took notice. The flight of foreign investors from the Brazilian stock exchange represented R$87,5 billion, almost double the 2019 exit, which was R$45 billion. And industry indicators are even more frightening, with the drop to 11% of GDP (in 2004, it represented 18%). No country develops without a strong industry.

In agriculture, the agribusiness model remains predominant and growing, but it only produces commodities for export, leaving the guarantee of quality food at a fair price for the domestic market in the background. Today, 80% of our land and agricultural productive forces are devoted only to producing soy, corn, sugarcane, cotton and extensive livestock.

The transnational corporations that control the inputs and the big landowners make a lot of money. But society and the economy as a whole do not. Not to mention that we are still in a pre-modern State stage. The ruralists refuse to pay taxes on exports (protected by the Kandir Law, approved by the FHC government) and refuse to pay ICMS on pesticides and other products, as seen now in São Paulo. In other words, it is agricultural rent seeking, using our natural resources, infrastructure and logistics without contributing to the State, public services and society as a whole.

In Argentina, to give you an idea, soy pays 35% of taxes on exports, and the resources go directly to social income distribution programs. In other words, the extraordinary income from the boom in international commodity prices and the rise in the dollar is shared among all citizens.

Agribusiness exercised its strength and influence in the government and tried to take advantage. They released more than 300 new types of pesticides, which kill biodiversity, contaminate water and food and cause illness, disease and even cancer, according to scientific studies. All this goes in the reverse direction of progress. Europe prohibits the practice of aerial spraying of poisons and has set a deadline for removing the glyphosate substance from the market. In Mexico, the government has just decreed that within 3 years it must eliminate pesticides and transgenic seeds from its agriculture.

As if the agribusiness income-concentrating model were not enough, backward, predatory landholdings that produce nothing have returned with full force and support from the government.

The landowners, backward in their form of primitive accumulation, are leveraged by financial capital and, with that, seek to appropriate the goods of nature (public lands, ores, biodiversity, forests, water and even the oxygen of forests) to sell them as a carbon credit.

This madness of maximum accumulation with the goods of nature happens to the detriment of the needs of the whole people. This policy became famous in the expression “It’s time to pass the cattle!”, that is, to appropriate everything they can, in as little time as possible…

The result opened wide the consequences for the whole society. We've never had so many fires. Not just in the Amazon biome, but also in the Pantanal and the Cerrado. Climate change is perceptible to any citizen. Even in São Paulo, our largest metropolis, the population suffers from irregular rains and the night in the middle of the day caused by the smoke from the fires in the center-west and north of the country.

No indigenous and quilombola areas have been regularized in the last four years. We have never had so many invasions of farmers in their areas. More than 20 garimpeiros were encouraged and are protected by exploring ores in indigenous areas. Violence against these Brazilians has reached unacceptable levels.

The State and the government also abandoned all policies to encourage food production and attention to so-called family and peasant agriculture, which produces to supply the domestic market. There is no more technical assistance, rural housing programs or food purchase programs.

The ruralists who occupy the government are proud to say that they buried the agrarian reform, a State policy foreseen in the 1988 Constitution as a way of guaranteeing the right to work on the land. It was precisely for this that the landowners and agribusiness elected this government. It makes sense!

As if the results in the economy, caused by the capitalist crisis and an ultraneoliberal economic policy, were not enough, then we had the coronavirus pandemic. An invisible and deadly enemy hit more than 8 million Brazilians and took around 200 people, of all ages and social classes, to the cemetery. Even doctors, nurses and people who acted to help others paid this high price.

This common enemy was not contained by the lack of a federal government with the representativeness, capacity and morale to coordinate actions against the spread of the pandemic. Society's understanding of the need to act collectively to face this war also fell short.

Other countries organized society differently, prioritized unitary combat against the enemy and achieved more positive results. In Vietnam, for example, less than 100 people died. In Indonesia, a country with more than 280 million inhabitants, three thousand people lost their lives.

Here, the state and the government have allied themselves with the enemy. Within society, unfortunately, opportunistic attitudes prevailed that kept vectors of virus contamination in circulation.

The working people, thrown to their own devices, have to abandon care and look for ways to survive on the street. The emergency aid of R$ 600, proposed by the opposition and implemented at the initiative of the National Congress, is now closed. The results of this insane and genocidal policy do not appear only in the dead, but also in all social indicators of the population's living conditions.

Brazil is among the 83 countries with the worst living conditions for the population, even though it is the 13th largest economy in the world. Together with South Africa, we are the worst country in terms of social inequality. We ended the year with 14% unemployment, which only measures those looking for work. We have 60 million adult workers, outside the economy and social rights. It is a rejected Brazil, kept on the sidelines by the exclusionary State and by a dumb and stupid bourgeoisie that does not think about the Nation.

We have never had so much urban violence. We have never had so much hate and racism. Violence against women in the home. Cases of feminicide reached an alarming level, also practiced by “good” white men, with money, who stole the lives of their former partners in all social classes.

Hunger affects 12 million Brazilians; another 20% feed below the needs. Food inflation varies between 20% and 80% according to the product, affecting the poorest. The “Minha Casa Minha Vida” program was interrupted.

About 60 countries are already vaccinating their population, while here the Minister of Health must be studying geography to find out where the Equator passes...

The nature of the Bolsonaro government becomes more evident every day, which has become insane and genocidal, harmful to the Brazilian people and to democracy. The opinion of some former ministers such as General Santos Cruz, Dr. Henrique Mandetta and consultant Sérgio Moro, who know the house well from the inside, is enough to understand what kind of people it is that is ruling Brazil.

It is positive that more voices are now being raised against the government in newspapers and TV, which previously supported it, and even among intellectuals who had asked for votes. The question that everyone is asking is where the political strength that sustains Bolsonaro comes from.

It cannot be simplified to military tutelage, because despite the fact that 6.157 officers from the three branches are present in the government, it seems to be a matter of personal opportunism to seize small privileges and improve one's career.

The Minister of Defense never tires of warning that the Armed Forces do not participate in the government, that they are merely instruments of the State. The meager professional performance in the administrative functions of the military, including, should embarrass everyone, especially the Army, Navy and Air Force. I hope that one day General Villas Boas apologizes publicly for the trap he set against the entire people, which only he and the captain know about…

It is true that part of the bourgeoisie, with its bankers and transnational corporations, continues to bet on Paulo Guedes' plan, thirsty for more privatizations, such as Eletrobras, Correios and Caixa.

The government does not have a national project and does not have ideological and political hegemony in society. It had a negative result in the municipal elections, in which all those who identified with Bolsonarism lost.

There is nothing that demonstrates that neo-fascist ideas are in the majority in society. On the contrary, their speeches, theses and examples are defended only by fanatics, which should not be more than 10%, as they exist in the whole society.

So, the most recent facts make us change the question and, instead of asking who supports it, we should ask ourselves how long we will endure such incompetence and insanity…

Faced with this harsh reality, which has cost so many lives, so much sacrifice and led our people to despair, the solutions are not simple and cannot be reduced to the short term.

There is a permanent mission in the nature of our work, in popular movements, which imposes on us the task of organizing the working class in every possible way. Above all, that contingent from “rejected Brazil” of 60 million adults abandoned to their own fate, without jobs, income or future.

We know that most of them are women, heads of families, young people, black and who live on the outskirts of cities. We need to organize them so that they fight to defend their rights and find solutions to their problems.

We support the immediate construction of a Popular Front, which brings together the popular movements that make up the Frente Brasil Popular and the Frente Povo Sem Medo, trade union centrals, political parties, interreligious movements, civil entities, youth collectives, artists and intellectuals.

The construction of this front around the defense of urgent measures and popular interests must revolve around a unified agenda, which is under debate in several spaces with the following points:

1 – Fight for the vaccine now, public and for all Brazilians, urgently and as a priority, strengthening the SUS with the necessary resources.

2 – Guarantee the maintenance of Emergency Aid until the end of the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

3 – Guarantee the supply and access to healthy food, with controlled prices.

4 – Demand a national employment plan to face the unemployment pandemic.

5 – Fight for “Fora Bolsonaro”. This government does not have the minimum conditions to face the national problems. There are more than 50 impeachment requests sleeping in the Chamber of Deputies.

6 – Approve the taxation of the richest, starting with the 88 billionaires who got rich in the pandemic. Regulation of taxation of profits and dividends, large fortunes, inheritances and bank transfers. Repeal the Kandir Law. End the tax exemption that diverted BRL 457 billion from public coffers in 2020, according to Unafisco.

7 – Fight against privatizations and defend Eletrobras, Correios, Caixa, Serpro, Petrobras and the lands (which the government and ruralists want to hand over 25% of each municipality to foreign capital).

8 – Fight against racism and any violence against women.

This minimum program is a starting point for popular movements, trade union centrals, society entities, parties and the different forms of society organization to make the debate so that we can build the broader unit around a popular platform.

The consolidation of this unit depends on the mass social struggle around this platform, which will only come after the vaccine. But it will come. And the increase in social problems will increase contradictions and social conflicts, which will break out at some point, whether the rulers want it or not.

It is evident that the democratic recomposition of our institutions also implies cleaning up the frauds that have come since the illegitimate coup against President Dilma Rousseff in 2016.

The social, labor and social security rights guaranteed in the Constituent Assembly must be recomposed, as well as the sovereign foreign policy. The persecution of President Lula by the Curitiba gang, the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco and the “cracks” scheme to divert public resources need a response.

In the medium term, we need to build a new project for parents. A national project that reorganizes our economy based on production in industry and agriculture to guarantee goods, work and income for the entire Brazilian people.

A project based on the universalization of rights to education, health, land, decent housing and culture. Only a project that combats social inequality can build a fairer society, with equality and harmony.

The 2022 elections are a step in this process to bring political forces together around this new project, which needs to build a popular majority in state instances. Therefore, the debate cannot be limited to minor disputes over names and parties. If we do not build these alternatives, the crisis will certainly deepen and will cost our people more and more.

*Joao Pedro Stedile he is a member of the coordination team of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

Originally published on the website Power360.

 

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