The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) of Trinidad and Tobago condemns the parliamentary coup d’etat that culminated in the vote by the Brazilian Senate last week to remove Dilma Rousseff as President of Brazil, a position to which she was democratically elected by more than 54 million people – the majority of the Brazilian voters less than two years ago, in October 2014. The decision by the Senate follows a relentless campaign by the traditional oligarchy in Brazil to bring to an end the Presidency of the Workers’ Party (PT) of Brazil. This oligarchy which traditionally controlled the Brazilian economy sought unsuccessfully to defeat, first Lula and then Dilma, in four Presidential elections. When this electoral route to the removal of the PT from power was rejected by the majority of Brazilians at the polls, the oligarchy used a “soft” coup d’etat to achieve their objective.
It is to be noted that this is the third such “soft” coup in Latin America in the past eight years. In Paraguay the oligarchy removed the democratically elected President Fernando Lugo in 2012 through a very similar “parliamentary coup” to that used in its neighbor Brazil last week; while in Honduras in 2009 another democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya was arrested by the military taken out of Honduras and then the Congress elected an interim President. In the case of Paraguay, the “soft” coup against President Lugo enabled the right wing Colorado Party which had controlled that country for 62 years before President Lugo’s election, to re-take power. In Brazil, we are witnessing the political forces of the right once again coming to the fore. It is to be noted that the so-called allegations of corruption and abuse of office made against Dilma could not stand scrutiny. On the other hand, the truly corrupt – including the “President” Michel Temer and Eduardo Cunha – used the “impeachment” process against Dilma to shift attention away from and, perhaps even prevent further investigations of their corruption by the authorities.
It is very clear that in the almost two decades since the geo-politics of Latin America began to shift to the left with progressive changes first in Venezuela with the election of President Hugo Chavez, then in Brazil with Lula being elected President, that the forces of the oligarchy, supported no doubt by their old allies the United States, were desirous of reversing these changes. The evidence is clear, wherever progressive political forces won the executive power of the Presidency there were major economic and social changes. Poverty levels were very significantly reduced: housing, education, health care, lower unemployment, literacy programmes and vastly improved access to education, were all areas that working people, farmers, the poor and marginalized – indigenous people, Afro-descendants, women, children and the elderly – benefited from. At the economic level the unbridled power of private capital – foreign and large local capital – was counter-balanced by state intervention. In foreign policy, the countries of Latin America under progressive political leadership began building new arrangements of integration: ALBA; MERCUSOR; UNASUR; CELAC among others.
All of this challenged the power and in some cases the very wealth of the traditional oligarchy. It is to be remembered that this oligarchy never were pro-democracy, unless their political party or candidate could win the elections. Thus, Latin America has had in the 20th Century longer periods of dictatorship and authoritarian rule than democratically elected governments. The dictatorships were of course backed by the military, which itself was controlled at the officer corps by members of the oligarchy who were trained and supported by the United States. Thus, in Brazil in the past 60 years, half that period was of dictatorship. In the past 90 years only three elected civilian Presidents completed their term of office! Indeed, the period since 2002 when Lula was first elected has been significant for the four successive democratic elections of a President. That development has now been broken by the coup against President Dilma Rousseff.
The coup against Dilma and the ending of the Presidency by the PT has other far reaching objectives. The forces of the right wing oligarchy are planning to implement an all-out programme of neo-liberal policies: privatization; the loss of the “commons” (public land); weakening of labour legislation and of workers’ rights; dismantling of social security – pensions, minimum wage; rolling back reforms in health care, education, and agrarian reform; among other policies. The losers will be working people, farmers and the marginalized. The winners will be big capital, foreign and local.
The social fabric of Brazil is going to face a major crisis as the struggle between interests intensifies; while the political struggle will no doubt become even more contentious as the oligarchy seeks to consolidate its position in the face of huge opposition from the Brazilian social movements, the PT and other progressive political parties. Far from ending the economic crisis as supporters of the coup claim, the removal of Dilma will intensify the crisis.
It is also clear to the MSJ that this process of reversal – Honduras by coup, Paraguay by coup, Argentina by elections, Brazil by coup – is not limited to these countries. The oligarchy with support from the US is bent on the removal of Nicolas Maduro, the leader of the PSUV from the democratically elected position of President of Venezuela. At the same time there are efforts to reverse the progress in Ecuador and even in Bolivia.
In this context, the MSJ stands with the progressive movements and parties in Latin America. We denounce the coup against President Dilma; we oppose any attempt at a coup against President Nicolas Maduro; we support the democratically elected Presidents of Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and El Salvador. We are confident that while there have been defeats, the human spirit of liberation which is imbued in the working people and poor will see them refuse to accept conditions which degrade their humanity. With this spirit of resistance and struggle against the status quo they will undoubtedly overcome the current difficulties and setbacks and establish an even stronger and deeper democracy – another world from that which the oligarchy seeks to re-impose.

In solidarity,

Movement for Social Justice
David Abdulah
Political Leader