Brazilian legislators drop Temer corruption investigation, thus indicting themselves
Brazil's President Temer waves during a ceremony in Brasilia, Aug. 16. His allies in congress have saved him from a corruption investigation. | Eraldo Peres / AP

Introductory Note: Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos is a vice president of the National Association of Post-Graduates in Brazil. In the article below, she shares her interpretation of the vote in the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of the Brazilian national Congress) which on August 2 decided, by a vote of 263 to 227, to dismiss very credible corruption charges against President Michel Temer.  Temer responded by doubling down on his plans to slash benefits for working class and poor Brazilians. Temer is considered an “illegitimate president” because of the undemocratic way in which he took power after the parliamentary coup last year which ousted the legally elected president, Dilma Rousseff. He has been the target of mass protests, some of which have been met with violent repression.

In the deliberations leading up to the vote on the corruption of Brazil’s illegitimate president, Michel Temer, on August 2, legislators seemed to completely forget the speeches they had made against corruption “in the name of God and the family” in 2016. At that time, in the flagrant coup d’etat of 2016, they had voted to impeach President Dilma Rousseff, who was not even accused of the crime of corruption.

The discussion in early August focused predominantly on the governing ability of Temer, who has a disapproval rating near 90 percent, rather than on the substance of the charges made against him.

The “voice of the street” was evoked by the deputies who supported the coup in 2015 and 2016, but now that same voice went unmentioned, prompting the Brazilian people to react on social media with expressions of disapproval and shame. Innumerable people’s marches and demonstrations calling for the impeachment of the unpopular Temer were ignored by the deputies, who voted to shelve the complaints of corruption against him and showed a total lack of commitment to what is understood by representative government.

The rural bloc in the Chamber of Deputies, which is benefitting most from the illegitimate government, remained faithful to its benefactor. The only parties which voted against Temer and thus endorsed an investigation of him were the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), Sustainability (REDE), the Workers’ Party (PT), and Socialism and Liberation (PSOL).

The agreements between Temer and the deputies who protected him from investigation, as well as the conspiracies, exchanges of favors, and backroom deals, were many. Schemes based on personal and convergent interests within this pro-coup consortium ensured that evidence against Temer was ignored. The legislators who sided with him do not have, and have never had, the moral right to speak about corruption. Many of them are being investigated themselves, and there is evidence the inculcates them which is being ignored by the conniving judiciary—a body which also helped carry out the 2016 coup against Rousseff. The great majority of the deputies investigated in the Lava Jato, or Jiffy Car Washing corruption scandal, voted to shelve the accusations against Temer. No surprise there.

The goal of these corrupt deputies is mutual protection. To save one another from investigation, they needed to oust Dilma Rousseff, who was granting autonomy to the government investigators and police to widen the scope of their inquiries. Stopping her meant installing Temer, one of their own, in her place.

After voting to halt any further investigations against Temer, the deputies justified themselves with the claim that they were voting against “Marxism.” Whether they knew it or not, they were exposing the real dynamic behind Brazil’s current crisis: class struggle.

The battle now raging in Brazilian politics is not just about governability; it is a matter of the struggle between the bosses and employees, between private capital and basic public services. The objective of the right wing is to maintain their illegitimate president in office. They represent the elites in this country and defend a minimalist state, symbolized by their vote for a cruel constitutional amendment which requires a freezing of social investment for the next 20 years.

They are the ones who approved a “reform” of high school education that saw the elimination of curriculum subjects important for the development of critical thinking about society and the environment. They are the ones who have made working conditions more precarious by eliminating labor rights historically guaranteed under law. They are the ones sucking the public university system dry by means of budget cuts, killing off the dreams of Brazilian youth struggling for social development and greater equality.

Brazil’s right-wing cabal is directly subordinated to the geopolitics of Washington D.C. This is the coup-plotting consortium which takes care of the interests of international finance capital and the big foreign corporations to the detriment of Brazil’s national development and the reduction of inequality.

Hunger has begun to increase again and has reached a shameful level for the country. Students are seeing their universities close their doors. Research and the sciences, so important for economic development, are being pressured by the disinvestment policies of Temer, who, in one of his speeches to a meeting of Brazilian industrialists, spoke in favor of giving preference in hiring to students who have studied abroad, to “develop national industry.”

In conjunction with this whole scenario of disinvestment in science, de-structuring of high school education, and privatization of jobs, there is now a danger Temer will bring a new round of “reforms” aims at ending social welfare completely. When 263 deputies voted in favor of shelving the investigation into Temer’s corruption (and by extension, their own), they were also voting to continue the agenda of starving the Brazilian people into submission.


CONTRIBUTOR

Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos
Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos

Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos lives in Itabuna, Bahia, Brazil.

 

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