Brazil: Bolsonaro´s Abyss

By Veronica O’kelly – Socialist Alternative/ISL

Economic crisis, undone reforms, loss of social support, distancing allies, protests, pandemic… Jair’s abyss is approaching fast as he appeals to recipes that seem not to be working in times of government attrition.

“Investments” never arrived, and the country has been living in an economic depression for two years and in stagnation for three years. Of course, businessmen are not at ease or feel certain with a president who has failed to impose reforms demanded by the cold numbers of capital. These sectors have been demanding an administrative reform that involves a package of setbacks for workers such as the loss of stability for state workers, ending the right to strike, legalizing precarious work, advancing in privatizations, among other measures. All pending tasks that Bolsonaro has not been able to advance with.

In the face of the global crisis, the situation of the national economy is so fragile and dangerous that some neoliberal economic analysts recommend Paulo Guedes, the despicable Economic Minister, to turn around his plans to lower public spending. Economist Monica De Bolle does so: “The agenda of reform continues to be as important as before. It just no longer is the priority. We need a different thought now: how to stop the Brazilian economy from having a recession this year” (Folha Sao Paulo, 10/03/2020).

On the other hand, the stock market reflects the accelerated pace of the crisis. The Ibovespa (index with the most traded stock in the Brazilian market) accumulates a 42% fall in 2020, compared to 41.22% fall in 2008. The exchange rate with dollar is soaring and the Central Bank burns reserves every day in unsuccessful attempts to stop it.

The coronavírus accelerates the fall

Bolsonaro led the denialist campaign in the face of what he called an “unjustified hysteria” over a simple virus. That is why on Sunday he maintained the call for the small demonstrations of support for his government and participated in one of them. The problem is that the former captain hasn´t realized that his statements and actions no longer cause the effect they used to, and his opponents grow every day.

As Covid-19 spread in the country, a call was growing in social media to protest from the windows on Wednesday 18. The vast majority of social, trade union and left-wing political organizations joined. But the anger erupted the day before with “panelaços[1]” in the major cities which laid the ground for the massive “panelaços” of the 18th with pans banging from most windows in the country, even in cities and neighborhoods that are not usually mobilized. As this article is being written, the protests have gone to the balconies once again, becoming a powerful anti-government action.

The government acknowledged the hit and rehearsed a response. On March 18, the president accompanied by his ministers (those who did not test positive for Covid-19), gave a press conference trying to get a hold of what has clearly become a new political crisis. But this is not just another crisis. That´s why, wearing a mask, Bolsonaro announced that he was sending to Congress a decree to declare the State of Public Calamity that releases funds suspending austerity measures on public spending. Guedes reported that they will authorize an economic subsidy for the most unprotected sectors, such as unemployed or informal workers, and for employers, enabling a 50% reduction in workers’ wages, among other measures that seek to curb a political crisis from which it is difficult to return.

But the protests put things back in place and today the government is at the gates of an abyss, unsuccessfully trying to recover support and allies in the midst of a crisis that has not yet shown its worst face. Fora Bolsonaro (Out with Bolsonaro) was the slogan under which protests were called and it was shouted from windows and projected on buildings.

Now is not the moment to protect the regime and call to trust in this democracy of the 1%, as the PT and Lula are doing with their policy of reaching 2022 to contest on the electoral field. It is time to build strength and rebellion to stop today the bandits who suffocate us with their policies against the people.

This is undoubtedly an immediate task, along with ousting vice president Mourão and the whole government, there should be a call for elections to a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly to discuss everything. PSOL congress members Fernanda Melchionna, Samia Bomfim and David Miranda, presented a request for impeachment, accompanied by signatures of politicians, intellectuals and artists, something that further complicates Bolsonaro. The future of the government will depend on the strength we build with the mobilization of those who say no more austerity, repression and reforms against our rights. To pursue this objective, we are building a political alternative for workers, women, youth and the poor people, to kick out Bolsonaro and establish a government of the 99%.

[1] Protests banging pots and pans.