bolsonaro’s nazi whorehouse

Brazil’s coronavirus cases top 1.5m amid record unemployment
Tomas Castanheira, WSWS, Jul 6 2020

Bus line in Belém, Pará. (Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

Brazil began the month of July surpassing the milestone of 60k deaths caused by COVID-19 and recording 1.5m confirmed coronavirus cases. These terrible numbers, surpassed internationally only by Pindostan, are the result of a deliberate policy of opposing all public health measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus. When Brazil registered its first cases of coronavirus cases in mid-March, Bolsonaro declared himself radically against the shutdown of economic activities. He said that it was impossible for workers to simultaneously maintain their health and their incomes. They would either face widespread infections or mass layoffs: death by the virus, or death by starvation. Today, almost four months later, reality has proven that this supposed “choice” was fundamentally false. Brazilian working class homes are now being devastated simultaneously by disease and unemployment. Last Tuesday, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) announced that, from March to May, some 8m workers lost their jobs in the country. For the first time since the institute started the survey in 2012, more than half of the working age population is unemployed.

This social catastrophe is the responsibility of not only the sociopathic genius of Bolsonaro, but of all the political parties of the establishment, including the self-declared opposition headed by the Workers Party (PT). The initial disagreements over the official policy in response to the pandemic have vanished, giving way to a “united front” for the normal operation of economic activities under extremely unsafe conditions. The series of statements made in March by Bolsonaro, minimizing COVID-19 as a “little flu” and advocating a policy of herd immunity, stating that the pandemic was like a “rain” in which everyone should get wet, caused shock and anger in the Brazilian and international population. Bolsonaro emerged as the world leader with the most bluntly-stated contempt for human life. Riding a wave of middle-class “panelaços,” beating pans in protest against the government, Bolsonaro’s bourgeois rivals tried to present themselves as politicians of an essentially different sort, reasonable and committed to life. The governor of São Paulo, João Doria, of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), declared on Mar 25 on social media:

Mr President, in our state we have 40 deaths per COVID-19, out of a total of 46 in Brazil. These are persons who had an identity number, and relatives who will continue to miss them. They’re not fantasy deaths, Mr President. And that’s not just a small flu.

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel of the Christian Social Party (PSC), who, like Doria, was elected in 2018 as a local representative of Bolsonaro, declared on the same occasion:

We will be able to resurrect the economy. But it is impossible to resurrect those who have died.

These right-wing politicians were openly praised by the PT and its allies. In a Twitter post, shared by Doria, the former PT president Luís Inácio “Lula” da Silva said:

We have to recognize that those who are doing the most serious work in this crisis are the governors and mayors.

In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, large field hospitals with thousands of beds were built to treat COVID-19 patients, and the Consortium of the Northeast, under the leadership of the PT governors and their allies, established a Scientific Committee to Fight Coronavirus. These policies covered up the fact that none of the states adopted serious measures to combat the virus, with massive testing and contact tracing. The only economic activities officially closed were retail, schools and leisure. However, the auto industry, dragging the auto parts factories behind it along with other productive sectors, suspended their activities, declaring that it was because of expectations of “low market demand” as a result of the global economic crisis. This helped to create the false impression that a strict shutdown of the economy had been officially decreed. Just like the local governments, the trade unions took advantage of these closures to pose as defenders of workers’ lives. After the automakers had already announced collective vacations, the ABC Metalworkers Union, one of the major unions in the country, printed on the cover of its newspaper:

Either the companies stop… or we stop the companies.

But independently of and in opposition to the unions, a wave of wildcat strikes and protests broke out in workplaces, denouncing the insufficiency of the measures adopted by the governments and corporations against the spread of the virus. At the end of March, call center workers from all over Brazil stopped work to protest against the unsafe operation of their companies, raising the slogan:

We are not going to die in our cubicles!

A group of operators who went on strike in Bahia confronted the PT Governor Rui Costa, who presides over the Consortium of the Northeast declaring:

Your quarantine is selective! We have to die, because we are poor! We have to stay in that company in Boa Viagem (neighborhood) and bring disease to our families. There are already infected people inside! This is going to be a tragedy foretold!

In the same week, in Santa Catarina, hundreds of workers in a meat processing plant, owned by JBS, engaged in a spontaneous strike against unsafe working conditions and were brutally repressed by military police as they protested in front of the plant. Meanwhile, the bourgeois parties dropped their differences to jointly articulate the fundamental policy of guaranteeing capitalist interests in the face of the economic crisis deepened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between late March and early April, they approved the transfer of huge sums of money to the corporate and financial elite. Congress unanimously approved a corporate rescue package of 700b reais (about $140b), less than 15% of which was destined for 600 reais in emergency aid to workers who lost their sources of income. It likewise passed the so-called “war budget” amendment, which freed the government from its fiscal targets and allowed the Central Bank to buy junk bonds for the first time in history.

In early April, the Bolsonaro administration legislated conditions for corporations to suspend labor contracts and cut workers’ wages by as much as 70%. These measures were immediately embraced by the unions, which defended them as the only way to save jobs and signed agreements of this nature on a wide scale, affecting nearly 12m workers. With the problems confronting capitalist accumulation having received rapid and forceful responses, the coronavirus was spreading at an increasing speed amidst government neglect. According to Worldometers, between the beginning and end of April, the weekly average of new cases jumped from less than 600 cases per day to more than 5k. The death toll in the same period rose from around 250 to almost 6k. A series of strikes and protests by health-care workers erupted across the country, denouncing a much more serious situation in the hospitals than was being reported, with a lack of adequate PPE for workers and no structure for patients. Weeks before the mayor acknowledged the collapse of the health and funeral system in the city, which is the capital of the north-eastern state of Pará, a doctor declared:

Unfortunately, the public system in Belém has already collapsed.

In the first days of May, Brazil broke the 100k mark of confirmed coronavirus cases, and several capitals announced the overcrowding of their hospitals. Pointing to the under-reporting of cases, researchers estimated a real number of about 2m infections already by that time. Some states, such as Pará and Ceará, have decreed lockdowns, although under very loose terms. However, a change of perspective was taking shape within the international bourgeoisie. All over the world, the ruling elites adopted a new policy of suspending all measures to contain the virus and prematurely reopening the economy, canonized in Trump’s slogan:

The cure cannot be worse than the disease.

The Brazilian ruling class unified around the genocidal campaign of a “war on lockdowns” led by Bolsonaro. The sociopathic and obscurantist president emerged as a consistent representative of the interests of the entire capitalist class. Heads of dozens of Brazilian industrial and commercial associations marched alongside Bolsonaro to the Supreme Court, to say that the measures to contain the pandemic had already gone too far. The businessmen declared their concern that the worldwide resumption of economic operations, especially in Asia, would threaten the competitiveness of Brazilian capitalism. They stated that conditions were ripe for the resumption of production in the country. The criminal demands of the ruling class were not confronted by any local government, quite the contrary. Instead of constraining the resumption of production, governors and mayors threw off the restrictions and went on to reopen all activities. In São Paulo, the state most affected by the pandemic, Doria retreated from an already presented lockdown proposal and instead announced plans to reopen commerce. The consequences of this policy were expressed in a sudden rise of the Brazilian Stock Market, which recorded its best May since 2009.

The trade unions played a central role in this process. Since April, they have promoted a campaign for the recovery of Brazil’s industry in the midst of the pandemic, as an issue of national “strategic interest.” Voicing the most reactionary interests of the Brazilian ruling class, the presidents of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) and Força Sindical, the country’s largest trade union federations, wrote a joint article attacking Brazil’s dependence on products manufactured in China. As soon as the corporations decided to resume their operations, these same unions helped to force workers back into their deadly workplaces, affirming that the companies had established absolutely safe protocols. The general resumption of work and the reopening of trade led to explosions of cases in large companies, infecting hundreds or thousands of workers at once. Outbreaks of COVID-19 in meat processing plants led to the contamination of entire cities as well as of the largest indigenous reserve in Brazil, threatening the extinction of native peoples.

Touching words in defense of life were spoken by bourgeois politicians when the country had not reached 50 deaths by COVID-19. Today, Doria and Witzel are silent in the face of more than 15k deaths recorded in São Paulo and 10k in Rio de Janeiro. The third state with the highest number of deaths is Ceará, governed by Camilo Santana of the PT, with more than 6k confirmed COVID deaths. The bourgeois state has failed to contain the spread of COVID-19 on all fronts. All of the meat-processing units closed by the Public Ministry of Labor (MPT) around the country were reopened days or weeks later, causing new outbreaks of the virus. Recently, an infected plant continued to operate for a week after its closure was ordered by the MPT, and in fact only suspended operations after the workers took action. The only social force defending human life intransigently is the working class, through its strikes and protests. Only the expansion of this movement can prevent the coronavirus from causing hundreds of thousands more unnecessary and avoidable deaths. All social sectors committed to the progress of humanity, including scientists and researchers, must turn to the working class and help it establish its control over the economy and society. But the essential task for the achievement of this perspective is the independent political mobilization of the international working class, unified around a program of socialist policies that confront the interests of individual profit that govern society today. It is necessary to build revolutionary parties, sections of the IC4I, as the leadership of the workers’ movement in Brazil and every country.

Brazil: Are Extreme Right-Wing Elements Stealthily Preparing An Extermination Of Their Opponents?
South Front Translation, Jul 6 2020

Brazil’s Military Police

A recent analysis by Almir Felitte describes three related events in Brazil which indicate that hard liners are preparing a three-pronged armed assault on what remains of the country’s wounded democracy. Sectors of the Military Police, from their command posts, are flirting with ‘Bolsonarism.’ There have been numerous scandals in shooting clubs where they are trying to form militias, while the president has installed military personnel in three thousand strategic federal government posts. Meanwhile, Bolsonaro is pushing to loosen gun laws so that extreme right-wing political militias can be armed There are ominous signals that the country faces grave risks, whether the three ideologically-aligned armed movements (military, police, political militia) are preparing to respond in case of widespread left-wing mobilization, or, perhaps, to launch a pre-emptive strike to deal a decisive blow to their historic enemies.

Talking about democracy has become complicated in Brazil since the 2014 election, which right-wing elements refused to recognise. Brazil has lived under a coup regime since Dilma Rousseff was removed from the Presidency in a legally flawed impeachment process two years later. The damage was aggravateded when the Brazilian authorities decided to ignore all kinds of illegal acts committed in the lead up to the 2018 elections to guarantee Bolsonaro’s victory over his left-wing rival. Since the end of the military dictatorship (1964-1985), there has never been so much heard about the possibility of the military taking power in Brazil once and for all as has been discussed in recent weeks. Discussion about the risk that the country will move from this shameful dictatorship that we are living to an openly military dictatorship, as our sad history already knows, has already become a daily topic, even in the mainstream press. And to understand and contain this risk, it is essential to examine three different political groups in the country.

First, we have to examine the activities of the Armed Forces. At this point, it is worth remembering that Bolsonaro created his government with the goal of total militarization, with 9 members drawn from the military to occupy posts at the highest level of the government: Bolsonaro himself (a former captain in the armed forces) and his deputy, General Mourão, in addition to 7 others appointed to ministerial level, almost all from the army. Strategic secondary positions, such as State-owned enterprises and agencies Caixa, Correios, Petrobras and FUNAI, were also occupied by military personnel and even the civilians named in Planalto (the presidential palace) had military connections, such as the former Minister of Education, Vélez , for example. This situation has only intensified with the passage of time and, among so many confusions that are occurring in the centre of the Government, the figure of a member of the Armed Forces designated to play the role of “firefighter” to the latest political or administrative crisis has become commonplace. The latest and most emblematic case was the appointment of General Pazuello to lead the Ministry of Health, in the midst of the pandemic. Once sworn in, the general immediately surrounded himself with 12 more servicemen in important positions in the portfolio and imposed a series of censorship measures on the data related to the covid-19 crisis.

The presence of the Armed Forces has become so expressive in Brasilia that, this week, the TCU decided to carry out a survey on how many active and reserve soldiers occupy civilian positions in the Government. At the end of 2019, Folha had already discovered more than 2.5k servicemen in leadership and advisory positions. Today, there is talk of more than 3k. The number of uniformed men who rule the country, of itself, would be enough to worry about. However, worse than a de facto military government, Brazil really seems to be forming a de jure military government. The military formation that is steadily taking over the government and the State, well symbolized by Minister General Heleno, constantly attacks the other sectors in public institutions and the opposition, portraying the Army as a Moderating Power in the country. This Moderating Power that we have already seen in action, when on the eve of a trial in the Supreme Federal Tribunal that ultimately determined the course of the 2018 elections (the prosecution of the lead presidential candidate, Lula de Silva), the then Commander of the Armed Forces, General Villas-Boas, made a calculated statement on the national networks threatening the rest of the country if the military’s instructions were not followed.

However, the imminent danger posed by the military is not the only uniformed danger that confronts the country. The politicization of the police forces, aligned with the extreme right is becoming an irreversible phenomenon. But, contrary to what many say, this does not appear to be a movement restricted to a low “insubordinate” level of the police. To the contrary, the phenomenon appears to be institutional and dominant. Structured in a rigid and vertical chain of command, in the streets the Brazilian police rarely express behaviour that is not in accordance with the ideas of their superiors. And these are the ones who are leading the phenomenon of police politicization. In 2018, for example, the country’s Legislative Houses were taken over by a large number of elected police officers. This politicization manifested itself in the streets in an emblematic way in São Paulo, when the Military Police ignored the Nazi fascist flags raised by Bolsonaro’s supporters and provoked protesters who opposed the Government and then dispersed them with force. Another symbolic case occurred at the beginning of the year, when military police were stationed in Sobral and caused terror in the town of Ceará. At that time, the political performance of some police officers went far beyond the already routine confusions that have always occurred in police attacks, with strong indications of the influence of Bolsonarista politicians on the police officers involved. It is worth mentioning that this phenomenon of politicization of the police, placing them as central actors in a potential coup movement, was recently demonstrated most forcefully in Bolivia, where the police played a leading role, along with the Armed Forces, in the removal of President Evo Morales. In Brazil, the news reports are multiplying about state police officers that may have joined Bolsonarism and are escaping the control of provincial governors, as Correio Braziliense reported this week. In short, contrary to what some have said until recently, it does not appear that the police commands are losing control over the lower echelons. Worse than that, it seems that civil society is about to lose control of the police institutions as a whole.

But the Brazilian armed coup has not only been built by the military and police. Among many crimes that it revealed, the scandalous video of the ministerial meeting which was recently made public revealed once and for all a political objective that seems to be an old dream of the Bolsonaro family for Brazil: a political armed militia. The President was explicit in the meeting in saying that his gun-release policies were for political ends, so his supporters could use them to pursue political opponents. And, in fact, since taking office, Bolsonaro has taken a series of measures to loosen arms legislation in the country. Therefore, it is not surprising that a group like “300 do Brasil,” while pathetically small, has publicly admitted that they carried weapons in their camp. Likewise, the National Arms Association CAC Brazil, which gathers collectors, snipers and hunters, has already admitted to being a “reaction force” that will protect the country and support the President,” which resulted in a formal investigation into the possible formation of a paramilitary group. These are only two examples that symbolize the turn suffered in the Brazilian arms discourse, which seems to have abandoned the arguments of “legitimate defence” to finally admit the political nature of the possession of weapons, pointing to the political persecution of the left. This character is very reminiscent of (and seems to copy) the structure of Pindostan’s private militias, often linked to far-right groups. These three phenomena, the Armed Forces, the police and the militias,  may or may not be in direct communication to coordinate their plans and activities, in order to become a single movement with coup objectives and consolidating the total militarization of the country. The three ideological lines are very close to each other and are also aligned with the Bolsonaro government. Since the democratic rupture caused by Dilma’s fraudulent impeachment in 2016, the Brazilian political situation has continued to deteriorate. Underestimating armed political movements like these could be a fatal mistake for Brazil’s future.

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