Brazil’s MST: “We need elections now and a popular emergency plan.”

By Joana Tavares
MST Brazil

João Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and the Popular Brazil Front, analyzes in this interview the Brazilian political scene, the role of Globo Network, the divisions in the coup field, and talks about the need to build a transitional government and a popular project for Brazil.

Brazil de Fato: What is the interest of the Globe in disseminating these audios and why they insist on indirect elections?

João Pedro Stedile: The Globe network became the main party of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. It takes care of the interests of capital, uses its force to manipulate public opinion and articulates with the ideological sectors of the bourgeoisie, which include the judiciary, some procurators, and the press in general. They know that Brazil and the world are experiencing a great economic, social and environmental crisis, caused by the modus operandi of capitalism.  In Brazil it evolved into a political crisis, because the bourgeoisie needed to have hegemony in Congress and in the federal government to implement its plans. Therefore, La Globo is a mentor, and, at the same time, manager of the coup.

Therefore, to put to Temer in power after the impeachment of Dilma was a shot in the foot, since its side – as Eduardo Cunha himself revealed it – is a bunch of “lúmpenes”, and corrupt opportunists, who were not worried about a Bourgeois project of country, but only with their own pockets.

The operation “Carne frágil”(Carnegate) was another shot in the foot, which helped to discredit the PMDB – Temer’s party – as several of them were involved and it eventually provoked the agro-export bourgeoisie. Now, they need to build an alternative to Temer. The way in which he will leave will be decided in the next few hours or days, whether through resignation, a judgment from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal or acceleration of  impeachment orders before Congress. In the coming weeks it will be decided who will take his place, and many factors will influence this. The result will not be the goal of some Machiavellian plan or sector – the Globo itself – but of the real class struggle, how these classes will move in the next hours, days and weeks.

How is the coup camp organized?

The coup d’état has been divided since 2014, which helps us, because in the previous coups, of 1964, and during the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994), the bourgeoisie was united, had a unique command, a project base within country and an important rearguard in the American capital.

Now, they have no country based project. They lost the American rearguard because they were aligned with Hilary Clinton, and only wanted to safeguard their particular economic interests. As sociologist Toucan (PSDB) José de Souza Martins says, “reforms of social security and labor are capitalist measures that increase the exploitation of workers, but are also contradictory to a capitalist project of the country.”

Nor do coupists have sole command. They are divided between economic power (Meirelles – Minister of Finance-, JBS, etc.); (Romero Jucá, leader of the government in the senate, Eliseu Padilha, Minister of the Civil Household, Temer, Moreira Franco, Head of the General Secretariat of the Presidency), who have the power of laws, but begin to have fissures, as is the case of Renán Calheiros. There is also an ideological group composed of Globo, and the Judiciary, but there are many internal contradictions between them. That is why they are not clear now who to place in power instead of Temer.

The ideal for them would be to make Lula invisible, to have a transitional government, to be accepted by the majority of the population, that could be until the minister Carmen Lucia, until October of 2018, and there try to win the elections. But that division also appears for the candidates, as they still can not build an FHC, a Collor. They are touting public opinion by introducing João Doria, now Mayor of São Paulo, to Luciano Hulk. But they know from the polls that they are unfeasible and would extend the political crisis further.

What can workers and grassroots organizations do in this context?

JPS – We have been discussing since last year, in the ambit of the more than 80 popular movements and political organizations that are part of the Popular Brazil Front, that the outlets that interest the working class are a set of measures that complement each other. First, lower the coup plotters and suspend all the legislative measures they have been taking against the people. After that, have a transitional government, convene presidential elections for October 2017, and discuss a way to have immediate political reform, to guarantee the will of the people, and to choose a new Congress. Another point is that the new government assumes the commitment, already in its campaign, to convene an Exclusive Constituent Assembly to build a new democratic model of political-electoral regime in the country. At the same time, we built a “Popular Emergency Plan,” which includes more than 70 emergency measures that the transition government and the new government should implement, which, from our point of view, would take the country out of the economic, social and political crisis.

During the electoral campaign, we need to discuss a new national project, which takes into account the need for medium and long-term structural reforms, such as tax reform, media reform, agrarian reform, and the reform of Judicial power itself. But for all this to happen, the workers, the masses, need to take to the streets urgently. The strength of the people is exercised there, in mobilizations, in occupations and popular pressure. I believe that in the coming hours and days there will be plenary sessions to discuss specific mobilization calendars. For our part, we believe that next week is decisive. We need to camp in the Federal Supreme Court, to ensure the resignation of the coup plotters and that the corrupt ones denounced by Joesley Batista are captured. We need to make extensive mobilizations in all capitals and large cities, next Sunday 21. We need to transform May 24 not only into a mobilization in Brasilia, but throughout the country, occupying the Legislative Assemblies, the roads. The people need to enter the field, and push to accelerate the changes we need.

Can direct elections bring progress to the country? How? Who are the candidates?

JPS: Of course, the direct elections for president and for a new Congress are a democratic necessity, to get the country out of the political crisis. That is, only the polls can lead to a government that represents the interests of the majority and can have the legitimacy to make the changes in favor of the people that allow to leave the economic crisis. Because the economic crisis is the basis of all the social and political crisis. The working class candidate is Lula, who represents the vast majority of the Brazilian people, and who can commit to a change project and support our emergency plan.

There will likely be other candidates, such as Bolsonaro, the far-right representative, Marina Silva, who will try to attract a centrist electorate, but its actual base is the Assembly of God church. The “toucans” are in crisis, because Alckmin is involved in several complaints. Doria is a fifth-category playboy. And the Globe has not had time to build an alternative, as was Collor in 1989.

What is the exit to prevent the setbacks of the coup plot?

Mobilize, fight, and do not leave the streets. We must maintain a general strike for an indefinite period. All our social militancy and readers of our Brazil de Fato must be alert, as over the next few days there will be definitive battles to define the country’s course in the coming years. The strength of the working class is expressed only in the streets.