Rafael R. Ioris – Brazil Wire, 5/6/2015
Successive demonstrations in its most important cities, brawls between militants of opposing ideological sides who see the other as an enemy rather than a political adversary, growing numbers of strikes, verbal and written attacks in the media, rising polarization in Congress. A good description of what has been taken place in the country of the future in the last several weeks, this narrative would be similarly accurate in describing events leading to as well as immediately after the military coup of 1964. Indeed, in the first years of the decade and even towards its end, when the authoritarian regime tightened its grip and curtailed most forms of political life, Brazil was immersed in intense activism reflecting, at the same time, the vibrancy of its flourishing democratic institutions, rising civil society, and protracted but continuous path of socio-economic and political inclusion, as well as a reasserted resistance against substantive social transformations from different sectors of its entrenched, and mostly conservative ruling elites.
Though history doesn’t seem to repeat itself in the same ways, it is clear that deep-seated structural factors tend to encroach upon one’s reality unless they have been sufficiently weakened. In fact, the recent, rapid though not necessarily sustained, rise of traditionally excluded groups to the economic and political lives of the country notwithstanding, Brazil’ political landscape since last year’s presidential election resembles more that of a country mired in Cold War rhetoric rather than that of a nation in the path of consolidating its transition from autocratic rule to fully democratic life. In what has been called by some the ‘third round’ of the recent electoral proceedings, the fact is that many who supported the opposition candidate, senator Aécio Neves, in his unsuccessful bid to the presidential seat last October, have refused to accept the outcome of the election and have since then taken to the streets to demand Dilma Rousseff’s, the narrowly reelected president, ousting from power – if needed by means of a military coup. Further complicating the prospects of dialogue between the opposing sides, the current composition of Brazil’s parliament is one that reflects its ideologically most conservative alignment in over 60 years, and, to her supporters greatest dismay, the recently appointed new finance minister of Rousseff’s second term in office is pushing for a sharp cut in public investment and social expenditures in order to bring down the country’s rising inflation, thus appeasing domestic and international investor as well as global financial rating agencies.