Massive anti-government protests sweep across Brazil

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets all across Brazil on 3 July in opposition to the current Bolsonaro-Mourão government. Shouting “Out Bolsonaro and Mourão”, the anti-government protesters highlighted the government’s neglectful handling of the ongoing COVID crisis. 

Brazil is worst hit country in all of South America for COVID, only being ‘challenged’ by Peru in terms of sheer death count. In fact, Brazil is one of the worst affected nations in the world , with 400,000 ‘additional deaths’ that could have been avoided had the government responded according to the worldwide average level of response.

Though, it would be a mistake to approach these protests as just being an expression of this one crisis, for with a country so mired in a sea of pitch-black reaction and endless parliamentary corruption as Brazil, the list of charges by the people against the reigning party and it’s figureheads is long.

The primary factors for the current unrest include: economic ‘unmanagement’ during the crisis, the rampant corruption being revealed within the ruling party which rose to power on an anti-corruption campaign (not unlike ex-president Trump), environmental devastation particularly with the fire-raising, mining, wood-extracting and factory farming currently decimating the Amazon rainforest and the seizure, and lastly, the silencing and imprisonment of indigenous peoples and their native lands for industrial farming.

Corruption also extends specifically to the COVID crises, where-in the ruling party have been found to have delayed vaccine orders deliberately by virtue of soured trade-relations with China. This has allowed the government to siphon public money into private accounts through the over-inflated contracts they forced themselves into by buying their vaccine supplies late at emergency (highly increased, scarcity) prices. This plan, which has now become public knowledge, was in fact well known to current president Jair Bolsonaro, yet he chose to do nothing about it.

And all this on top of an explosion in unemployment, homelessness, reliance on charities for widespread hunger, massive budget cuts between 20 to 45% to major universities and increased police violence perpetrated by the now most militarised state in history. Over 6000 major government offices and positions are now headed by military people thanks to Bolsonaro’s military background. Not even the military dictatorship of 1964-1985 was this militarised.

It’s no wonder the general public have become outraged at this hellish state of affairs, and the sheer energy exploding onto the streets right now in resistance to it all is not in the least bit surprising.

Footage from protest in São Paulo

While reports are still being received as to what happened on the ground at the protests, witnesses have reported the outbreak of riots in the major cities and looting of various major branded stores. Alongside this, fights between trotskyist and liberal groups have been reported.

The left-leaning liberals and the scattered left parties have been attempting to oust Bolsonaro since the pandemic first crashed through Brazil in mid-2020, to no avail. Until very recently the strategy to get Bolsonaro out has been to pressure the Brazilian congress into taking action, which with a bourgeois democracy so openly accepting of Bolsonaro and his policies, this strategy has predictably lead nowhere.

With this recent wave of protests and moves made by left parties has the resistance to Bolsonaro’s regime actually extended beyond the ballot box and begun to involve average, working class people to take action. As soon as popular demands for power appear, so do opportunities.

As should be expected, the main Marxist-Leninist Communist party in Brazil, the Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB), have not been sitting on the sidelines throughout all this, already having been the leading figures in the smaller scale protests leading up to this one. The PCB have pledged to organise more demonstrations and intensify the working class militancy within them.

This is in stark contrast to the non-actions of the surrounding the far-right Social-Liberal Party who as the PCB say, “privilege the electoral calendar and put little weight on the popular struggle, and parties of the traditional right, which combat the negationist and obscurantist aspects of the Bolsonaro government, the denial of science in the fight against the pandemic, but which fear popular mobilisation in defence of workers because they are in favour of neoliberal policies”

The PCB’s official statement on the protests conclude with:

“Only the struggle in the streets, combined with the work stoppage in defence of life and jobs, will be able to change the correlation of forces and open space for the reorganization of the working class and the construction of the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist alternative, in the perspective of popular power and socialism. The PCB will not measure efforts to maintain the offensive and will not give one minute of truce to the anti-popular politics of the rulers and capitalists.”

Frank Rowley, is a member of the YCL’s Kent branch

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