Who’s Behind the Marches Against Brazil’s President?

The political forces organizing the marches this Sunday against the democratically elected government of Dilma Rousseff began conspiring against the leftist president immediately after it became known that she had won the run-off election in October, 2014 against the candidate of the Brazilian elites, Aecio Neves.

A woman wears a shirt with an image of Brazil

The right-wing political opposition in Brazil has been reluctant to accept the results of that election, seeking to implement their neoliberal agenda by whatever means they can. The opposition, like their right-wing contemporaries in the rest of Latin America, have become frustrated at their repeated electoral defeats. The leftist Workers’ Party (PT) has been in power since Rousseff’s predecessor, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva, won the presidential election in 2002.

Leaders of the Free Brazil Movement (MBL), one of the main organizers of the marches on Sunday, told Folha de Sao Paulo, “The main aim of the movement, at this moment, is to overthrow the PT, the biggest nemesis of freedom and democracy that haunts our country.”

In light of this goal, the MBL has been pushing for impeachment proceedings against Rousseff. Supporters of the government consider this an attempt to hold a “third round” of elections. They accuse opponents of wilfully ignoring the fact that Rousseff won the election with 51.64 percent of the vote, in an election that was affirmed by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. Rousseff has referred to the attempt to hold a “third round” as a break with democratic order in the country. “The election is over. A third round… can not occur unless one wants a break with democracy,” said the Brazilian president during an event earlier this month.

The Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) is also backing the marches on Sunday, but stops short of backing a call for the impeachment of Rousseff. The party’s national president and former presidential candidate, Aecio Neves, said he would not personally attend but the party and its members would attend.

In a statement released Friday, the PSDB criticized those who said the marches on Sunday are calling for a break with democratic order. However, there are numerous groups openly calling for the military to intervene and remove Rousseff from power. These groups have stated that they too back the marches on Sunday and will turn out and demand a military intervention.

Calls for a coup d’état to remove the PT from power are not new. Shortly after Rousseff’s re-election in October, supporters were mobilized to defend Rousseff’s victory and reject calls for an impeachment or military intervention. The opposition insists that Brazil is in the midst of a political crisis. In an interview with Carta Capital, Miguel Rossetto, secretary-general of the office of the presidency stated, “There is no political crisis. The neoliberals and conservatives were defeated electorally, the crisis is theirs, because they lost.”

However, the opposition has been successful in utilizing a corruption scandal at Petrobras, the state oil company, to mobilize Brazilians in protest. The opposition has deliberately tried to tie Rousseff to the Petrobras scandal, despite the fact that she has been cleared of involvement. A new expanded investigation into the scandal named a number of high-ranking politicians, however Rousseff is not under investigation.

The powerful private media in Brazil has deliberately tried to tie Rousseff to the Petrobras scandal. Veja magazine deliberately published unsubstantiated accusations that both President Rousseff and her predecessor were connected to the Petrobras scandal in order to try to influence the election. The Center for Economic Policy found the media disproportionately represented Dilma Rousseff and the Workers’ Party in an unfavorable light compared to opposition candidate Aecio Neves.

The Brazilian media giant, Rede Globo, has also played an active role in mobilizing against the governments of the PT. The network has changed its programming in order to encourage more people to attend the marches and will broadcast Sunday’s events live on its networks. Erick Bretas, one of Globo’s directors, publicly announced that he would attend Sunday’s march.

The controversy over the role played by Globo is such that supporters of the government have taken to calling them coup-backers and have been denouncing them over social media.

Brazilians have also questioned exactly who is behind the marches this Sunday. Investigations have revealed ties between the so-called grassroots organizations such as the MBL, and the powerful far-right neoconservative Koch brothers from the United States. Journalists were also able to ascertain that the Vem Pra Rua group is funded by a foundation belonging to Brazil’s richest man, lending credibility to the PT’s argument that the marches

“This is a manipulation, with a view towards a coup, that comes mainly from the bourgeois and upper-middle class sectors,” said Alberto Cantalice, national vice-president of the PT.

Brazilians March in Widespread Support of Rousseff

The hashtag “Sunday I will not go,” in reference to Sunday’s opposition march is now trending on Twitter.

The Brazilian people staged massive demonstrations throughout the country in support of President Dilma Rousseff on Friday.

Marches were held in at least 23 of Brazil’s major cities.

The demonstrations in support of Rousseff come after the right-wing opposition organized a series of protests set for Sunday, demanding the president’s impeachment.

Social movements, parties and activists joined efforts to organize the mobilizations across the country. Some of the main organizers were the Movement of Landless Campesinos (MST), the Central Workers Union (CUT), the Brazilian Workers Union (CTB) and the governing Worker’s Party (PT).

With banners in defense of democracy and of the state-owned oil company Petrobras, the social movements registered over 100,000 people participating in demonstrations nationwide.

Brazilian media outlets have reported in recent days that businessmen are trying to force employees to attend Sunday’s acts against the president.

In response, thousands of people are using the hashtag #EuNaoVou (I won’t go) to show their rejection of the impeachment march, which is being organized through social media campaigns.

Some Brazilian twitter users are making reference to past episodes in the country’s history of military coups against progressive governments.

The tweet below reads “I will not go because I studied history.”

Some users have pointed at Jorge Paulo Lemann, the richest person in Brazil, who has been financially backing the march. This tweet denounces his financing of the website Vemprarua.org (Come to the streets.org), one of the main organizers of the protests.

Other users reject the impeachment as an attempt from the right-wing parties to achieve what they could not during the elections, a recurring description used by the President Rousseff herself, who described the calls to impeachment as a “third round” election.

The tweet below reads “15/03 I will not go. Elections are a serious thing, and people’s hysteria should be solved through analysis.”

In a similar tone, the tweet below reads “I will not go because I voted in the elections, because I respect the people’s will, because I don’t support a coup!”

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