- Mariana Schreiber – @marischreiber
- From BBC News Brasil in Brasilia
After leading the protests for the impeachment of then president Dilma Rousseff (PT) in 2016, the Free Brazil Movement (MBL) and Vem Pra Rua are now trying to repeat the dose against Jair Bolsonaro.
The two groups, who resisted taking to the streets before on the grounds that it would not be safe amidst the covid-19 pandemic, called for events this Sunday (09/12), and are trying to attract their former adversaries, that is, parties and left moves.
For this purpose, the initial motto of the call was abandoned, “Neither Bolsonaro, Nor Lula”, which defended the strengthening of an alternative presidential candidacy to the dispute that is currently polarized between the current president and former PT president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Now, the protest agenda is unified into one, the “Out, Bolsonaro”. White was also chosen as the official color of the events — the wish is that the left will attend, but give up the traditional red and party flags, a proposal that generates controversy on the other side.
To BBC News Brasil, deputy Kim Kataguiri (DEM-SP), one of the leaders of the MBL, recognized that it is necessary to unify different political forces to face the acts of September 7, in which Bolsonaro gathered a large number of supporters in São Paulo it’s Brasilia.
“We want to amplify as much as possible the demonstration so that all those who want the impeachment of Bolsonaro participate. It is an act in defense of democracy, an act in opposition to the seventh (September) and that, therefore, needs to be robust”, said Kataguiri.
Resentments on both sides, however, still hamper a broad alliance between right and left. While leaders of PCdoB, PSB and PDT, including pre-candidate Ciro Gomes, confirmed that they will be at Sunday’s protests after the invitation of the MBL, the largest party on the left, the PT, and organizations close to the acronym, such as Central Única dos Workers (CUT) declined to participate.
The president of the party, deputy for Paraná Gleisi Hoffmann, says she was not contacted by the MBL on the matter. “I hope that the movement on the 12th can be carried out, and it has all the legitimacy to be. We were not wanted to participate in the construction of these acts. We are not going to speak ill for that, they have to happen,” he told Poder 360 portal.
Kataguiri confirms that he did not invite the PT. For him, public statements by Hoffmann made it clear that the PT was already determined not to join.
Em sua conta no Twitter, a petista enfatizou que está em construção com partidos de esquerda (PT, PDT, PSB, PSOL, PCdoB, PV, Solidariedade, Rede e Cidadania) um ato nacional pelo impeachment de Bolsonaro em outra data. The objective, according to her, is also to attract other parties and movements that “defend democracy”.
“While we build this great manifestation of unity for democracy, for Brazil and for the rights of the people, we encourage all acts that are carried out in defense of impeachment. The country is demanding the responsibility of the president of the Chamber (Arthur Lira) for opening the processes” , said the PT president, on the social network.
For Pablo Ortellado, coordinator of the Monitor of Political Debate in the Digital Environment and professor at USP (University of São Paulo), the difficulty in uniting PT and MBL is not surprising, given the strong polarization of recent years between the party and the movements that supported the Car Wash operation.
In his view, it will be very difficult for the acts of opposition to Bolsonaro to surpass the size of the protests of 7 September without a broad unity of the opposition to the government, from right to left.
“There was a very large process of polarization that pitted the more launderers against the PT members and this left many resentments. We are now seeing resistance from PT members to join the MBL and Vem Pra Rua staff, but we are also seeing the resistance of the people from Vem Pra Rua and MBL to, let’s say, accept, in their actions, the PT members or people who would eventually vote for the PT”, notes the professor.
In a convening manifesto released this week, the MBL compares the acts of September 12 to the movement for “Diretas Já”, a broad front of political parties and forces that in 1984 called for the return of the direct election for president of the Republic after the Military Dictatorship . The proposal ended up defeated and Congress elected Tancredo Neves (PMDB) indirectly. With his death shortly before taking office, it was the vice president-elect, José Sarney (PMDB), who took charge of the country.
Critics of the MBL’s proposal to impose white as the only color in this Sunday’s events recall that the “Diretas Já” movement was multi-party and colorful, that is, all political forces in favor of the direct election appeared with the flags and colors they preferred.
Those who defend the idea say that today the context is different and the great anti-political feeling that marks part of society makes it difficult to repeat the 1984 climate.
To BBC News Brasil, deputy Orlando Silva (PCdoB-SP) supported the unification of the act in white and stressed that it is necessary to “dialogue with the majority of society, which today is not linked to parties”.
Invited by Kataguiri, he will attend the act on Avenida Paulista, where he will speak along with other leaders from the left and right.
Ciro Gomes, who in the past has exchanged aggressive attacks with MBL leaders, should also speak about the sound car, as well as deputy Alessandro Molon (PSB-RJ), leader of the opposition in the Chamber of Deputies.
“I think it’s cool for everyone to wear white, because it’s a neutral thing. As it’s very diverse and there are colors that give identity to political groups, whether it’s green-yellow, red, or blue, I think it’s very important for us achieve neutrality,” said Orlando Silva.
“We cannot fall into the 2022 trap. The logic cannot be whether the actions will strengthen or weaken a particular candidate. Our problem is to face Bolsonaro today. If I am to subordinate the dispute we are making today in defense of democracy, against Bolsonaro, to the electoral dispute, I’m going to reduce the size of the debate. So, my expectation is that left-wing leaders can participate in the demonstration that has the defense of democracy at its core. It’s not through the third way,” he added, explaining his adhesion.
For PT critics, Lula doesn’t want impeachment
PT critics say that his absence from Sunday’s events would be related, in fact, to his interest in keeping Bolsonaro in the 2022 contest, because he would be an easier candidate to be defeated by Lula in the second round.
Within this view, an impeachment could hamper the chances of a PT victory, as it would make Bolsonaro ineligible, making room for another leadership to reach the second round against the former president.
“The PT’s problem is the hegemonic thinking of wanting to lead the rest of the left, of having this discomfort with other leaders, such as Ciro (Gomes), which is also confirmed (in the Sunday act). And this bothers the PT members because, if current conditions are maintained, Lula is elected. Now, protests for impeachment may change the current scenario,” says Kim Kataguiri.
The PT members refute this thesis, stressing that they have already supported Bolsonaro’s impeachment since last year, long before right-wing movements joined. The party has supported the acts against Bolsonaro organized since the beginning of the year by the People Without Fear Front, the Popular Brazil Front and the Black Coalition for Rights — the three bring together hundreds of black and periphery unions, social movements and collectives, such as the Movement of Workers Without Ceiling (MTST), Single Workers Center (CUT) and UNEAfro.
Just as MBL and Vem Pra Rua did not want to participate in these protests, the Frente Povo Sem Fedo also decided not to call for the events this Sunday, one of its members, Josué Rocha, coordinator of the MTST, told BBC News Brasil.
“We defend unity for the impeachment of Bolsonaro, but we do not think that the MBL and Vem Pra Rua are able to have the catalysts for this process. They are movements that have roots on the far right, have positions that in many respects are similar to Bolsonaro itself, they supported his election and are now occasionally opposing him,” he criticized.
In response to these criticisms, MBL spokeswoman Adelaide Oliveira told BBC News Brasil that the movement supported Bolsonaro in the second round of 2018 for sharing some of the banners raised by him in the campaign, such as the anti-corruption agenda and the liberal economic agenda.
“We continue to support the agendas he abandoned: we are against privileges, we want to fight corruption, we want an efficient State. Bolsonaro was the one who abandoned all the agendas he promised,” said Oliveira.
“I think it is natural that the most radical leftists do not feel compelled (to participate on Sunday) because they are aware of our historic resistance against, for example, President Lula,” he added.
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