Bolsonaro has won. Brazil’s next president is racist, misogynist, homophobic and proto-fascist. The danger this means for democracy, for workers, women, LGTBI people and people of color in Brazil cannot be understated. The ex Army Captain openly defends the military dictatorship that governed Brazil from 1964 to 1985. In the final stretch of his campaign, he promised to “banish the reds form our homeland”, threatened to jail or exile political opponents and to censure the media that criticizes him.
Behind Bolsonaro, come the great bourgeoisie, the landlord oligarchy, the evangelical churches and openly fascist elements of the Armed Forces. Their program implies a brutal offensive against workers in order to maximize profits driving up the level of exploitation. It also implies an offensive of the conservative agenda against the rights of women, people of color and the LGTBI community.
Nevertheless, the vote for Bolsonaro represents the exhaustion of a great part of the middle class and the most impoverished sectors of the population, but not the support of his program. On the contrary, the millions who took to the streets to the call of “ele não” the days running up to the ballotage, are proof that Brazilians have strength in abundance to stop him. How much Bolsonaro will be able to advance or not will be determined on the streets. It’s time to organize the resistance.
At the same time, it’s not possible to comprehend Bolsonaro’s victory, nor to organize an effective resistance, without taking into account that it was the betrayal and the failure of the PT and the region’s “progressive” governments, that opened the door to the Right. Latin America had an historic opportunity the previous decade, after revolutionary mass movements destroyed the regimes that had implemented neo-liberal submission to imperialism in many countries and brought to power new governments that promised a sovereign, independent and, in the case of Bolivarianism, socialist road.
But all those governments accepted the framework of capitalism as a limit and became the most recent managers of that same system. Extended corruption plagued all of them. When the global economic crisis hit, none of them implemented measures to protect working people; all of them chose instead to safeguard profits and implemented authoritarian and repressive regimes to hang on to power. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and Ortega’s bloody dictatorship in Nicaragua may be the ugliest faces of the failure of the “Pink Tide”, but Brazil is no exception.
The worker president Lula reached the presidency in 2003 with over 70% approval rating. But the gigantic expectations that workers had placed on the PT turned to sour disappointment. Lula ruled in the interests of corporations and landlords. Dilma began applying harsh austerity measures when the economic crisis hit. The resulting loss of social base gave the the Right space to orchestrate the institutional coup that impeached her, and later to imprison and proscribe Lula. The PT did not trust people to mobilize, nor called on them to strike or fight to confront the Right.
Neither did Haddad’s campaign offer something new for Brazilians to want to vote for him. After the humiliating first round, in which Bolsonaro beat Haddad by almost 20%, the PT candidate dedicated himself to courting the support of the other establishment candidates and trying to convince the bourgeoisie that he would be a better bet than Bolsonaro to safeguard their business interests.
Very much in spite of Haddad and the PT, who continue to show themselves as everything that Brazilians are rejecting -and that Bolsonaro is capitalizing on- the mass mobilization of the last days before the election, which constituted a true movement in defense of democracy, reduced the vote difference by half, and demonstrated the strength with with the Brazilian people will confront Bolsonaro.
Today’s most urgent task is to organize the resistance to challenge the reactionary agenda of the new government. Fascism can only be defeated on the streets, organizing the struggle in neighborhoods, universities, factories and everywhere. At the same time, we have the challenge of strengthening the PSOL as a real alternative to Bolsonaro, the PT and other capitalist parties, which will only be possible if we recover an anti-capitalist path that offers the millions of Brazilians who are fed up with the establishment, a left-wing and socialist alternative. For these reasons, we need a revolutionary organization in the first line of the struggles on the streets and for a consistent perspective in the PSOL. Our comrades of Alternativa Socialista in Brazil and the Anticapitalist Network internationally are committed to this task.