'The coup plotters have made their intentions clear'

The measures announced or already taken by those who ousted President Dilma Rousseff from power - which are wholly consistent with the tenets of free-market neoliberalism - are a tragedy for the life and future of the Brazilian people, says Joao Pedro Stedile.

IT only took a few hours or days for the coup plotters to install themselves in the provisional government and demonstrate their intentions through the composition of the cabinet, the plans they have announced and their public declarations.

The Senate only forced President Dilma Rousseff to temporarily step aside and provisionally installed Vice-President Michel Temer as acting president. According to some lawyers, the constitution stipulates that the vice-president cannot reshuffle the cabinet. He should be limited to administrative acts until the merits of the case against Dilma are decided.

But the last thing that the coup plotters and their accomplices in the Federal Supreme Court are doing is respecting the constitution. At the moment, anything goes. As former president Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva said, it is as if 'you went on holidays and left someone to provisionally look after your house, and they sold it and remodelled everything inside'.

The cabinet of the coup plotters is a joke. A genuine festival of thieves. All men, white, hypocrites and rotten.

The Rede Globo media conglomerate had campaigned intensely over the last few months, insinuating that Dilma should be deposed due to the levels of corruption in her government. The petty bourgeoisie that mobilised in the streets clamoured for the return of the military dictatorship to put an end to the corrupt Workers' Party (PT) government.

Well, among Temer's newly appointed ministers, there are no fewer than seven who are currently facing accusations as a result of Operation Lava Jato (Car Wash) and other anti-corruption investigations. As politician Ciro Gomes said, 'they handed over the government to a trade union of criminals' and no one had the courage to put them on trial.

The measures announced or already taken by the coup government are a tragedy for the life and future of the Brazilian people. But they are coherent with its neoliberal plan to reduce the cost of labour, hand over our resources, privatise what they can and redirect public funds that were going to education, health and social security to business owners. As the investigator and economist Marcio Pochmann warned, 'What is at stake is the private appropriation of public funds that are the equivalent of up to 10% of GDP!'

They have already proposed a provisional measure that allows for the potential privatisation of all state companies, such as Petrobras, electricity companies, ports and airports. They will probably start with the electricity companies and the pre-salt reserves - recently found reserves of deep-water oil. In response, there will be a national protest on 6 June in Rio de Janeiro to denounce this attack on our national sovereignty.

In terms of social security, they want to impose a minimum retirement age of 65 for men and women in the countryside and the city, and a pension no longer tied to the minimum wage. This would be a tragedy for the working class.

In terms of healthcare, they have announced cuts to the Unified Health System (SUS) and the end of the More Doctors programme, which covers 50 million poor Brazilians living in areas where no white coats had gone before. They are even talking about cutting the Emergency Mobile Attention System (SAMU).

In terms of interest rates, nothing has been said about the R$500 billion designated each year to bankers through the payment of the internal debt. This is why they put two bankers in charge of looking after the chicken coop: Henrique Meirelles (Minister of the Treasury) and Illan Goldfain (Central Bank), whose family live in Israel because they view Brazil as a dangerous country.. Poor us, the 210 million humans who live here.

In agriculture and land reform, as well as the social measures outlined above that affect the poorest in the countryside, they had no problems with closing the Ministry for Agricultural Development and its programmes that attended to peasants.

We can all agree, though, that the coup government has been didactic. It has made it clear to the people what its interests are and how it will act.

That is why all the popular movements and organisations that are part of the Popular Brazil Front and the People Without Fear Front, along with other coalitions, have united behind the slogan 'No to the coup, Temer out!' None of us will accept a process of negotiation or sit at the table with representatives of an illegitimate and unpatriotic coup government.

Thankfully, Brazilian society and the international community have quickly understood the nature of this illegitimate government. And the slogan 'No to the coup, Temer out!' has reverberated in numerous public events.

Outside the country, hundreds of protests have occurred in front of Brazilian embassies. The international media that continue to follow the manual of listening to both sides, demoralised the local media by denouncing the character of the coup in editorials and news articles.

Personalities from around the world have spoken out. Pope Francis drew attention to the 'soft coups' underway in some countries, although he did not directly cite Brazil. The respected US academic Noam Chomsky, as well as Nobel Prize winners such as Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Rigoberta Menchu, and even artistes at the Cannes Film Festival have expressed their solidarity and denounced the coup.

In Brazil, public protests have multiplied as diverse sectors take to the streets, including high-school students and artists and intellectuals who for the first time occupied more than 20 offices of the National Arts Foundation (Funarte) across the country, forcing the coup plotters to reinstate the Ministry of Culture. Young people have returned to the streets to protest.

And where are those who supported the coup? The 'greens and yellows' against corruption? They are embarrassed, at home, as they helped hand over the cheese to the Jucas, Padilhas, Gedeis and other specialists in public funds. They have disappeared.

Certainly, from now on the popular mobilisations will increase in size and number of sectors mobilised. The Popular Brazil Front has drawn up a calendar of mobilisations and activities across the country for the next few months. Within the trade union movement, the drums have begun to sound in preparation for a general strike, paralysing productive activities in opposition to the measures of the coup government.

Moreover, solidarity with President Dilma is increasing, despite the various criticisms we made in regard to her past few years in office. She has been invited to participate in numerous mass activities in Brazil, where we will loudly and clearly say that 54 million voters - the majority of the Brazilian people - elected her to govern the country until 2018. 

Joao Pedro Stedile is leader of Brazil's Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST). This article is reproduced from the website of Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal ( It first appeared in Portuguese on the Brasil de Fato website ( and was translated by Federico Fuentes.

*Third World Resurgence No. 309, May 2016, pp 37-38