Raise the alarm! Fascism marching through Latin America

25.09.2018 - Javier Tolcachier

This post is also available in: Spanish

Raise the alarm! Fascism marching through Latin America

by Javier Tolcachier

The imminent election in Brazil is key to the future of Latin America and the Caribbean. Next October 7, positions of political power in the legislative chambers, the governorships will be resolved and it will be defined before the improbability that someone obtains an absolute majority – who will be the candidates who will pass to the second round (28/10) to consecrate a president and vice president.

Why is this election so important for Brazil?

The established powers managed to displace President Dilma Rousseff in 2016 with a parliamentary coup, cutting off a second constitutional mandate obtained in the 2014 election with more than 54 million votes. In this way, the break of thirteen years of government led by the Workers Party (PT) was consummated. Its leader, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, would also be subject to judicial persecution and condemnation without evidence in order to inhibit his presidential candidacy in 2018.

An important sector of the Brazilian elite together with the media monopoly supported the offensive of judges and prosecutors with North American advice to liquidate the progressive process. This was followed by a programme of adjustment in social investment, privatisations and suppression of acquired rights.

However, entrenched in the coup d’état, the betrayal of its electoral alliance and a severely anti-popular programme, the Temer government failed to win the support of the population, placing the neoliberal project in a risk zone.

Hence, the country’s right-wing, faced with the weakness of the figures of the parties traditionally close to capital (PSDB and PMDB) and in a reflection similar to that produced by the 1964 coup, turn to the army and candidates in its ranks to neutralise popular reaction, either through repression or by trying to channel a feeling attacked by the systemic business corruption of the political apparatus.

To this frontal onslaught of economic power are added retrograde forces, which irrationally expect the world to turn upside down and history to turn back. In this way, neofascism is personified by vociferating against the advancement of the human rights of the majorities. Discrimination against blacks and women, attacks on sexual diversities, revenge and hatred, repression, order without social progress are the flag raised by the former army captain and federal deputy for seven consecutive terms Jair Bolsonaro.

For many an unnameable, is also reaping support in some middle sectors resentful of the step of social ascent achieved by the governments of Lula and Dilma. The real equality of opportunities, that which they preach falsely without ceasing from the pulpit of liberal capitalism, in reality horrifies them. Added to this is the certainly high crime rate suffered by Brazilian cities with a strong concentration of pauperized population. A population that had to migrate from the desertification of the northeast as a result of the hyperexploitation of the soil by the rubber industry and attracted by the emerging industrial hope of the mid-twentieth century, today also in clear deterioration.

In the face of this neoconservative and repressive project, the left – even though it contests the first round with more than one candidate – relies fundamentally on the enormous electoral weight of the proscribed candidate Lula, to bring Fernando Haddad to the presidency of the country.

The candidate of Lula, minister of education between 2005 and 2012 and later mayor of São Paulo, is accompanied in the formula by Manuela D‘Ávila, a 37-year-old journalist. The contrast is more than evident against the far-right vice-presidential candidate, retired General Hamilton Mourão, 65. Both, however, are “gaúchos” – the two Porto Alegre natives probably the only thing they share.

The slogan of the Lulista candidacy is “To make the people happy again“, in a clear allusion to returning to the recomposition of the social situation of the postponed majorities. In addition to the usual progressive guidelines of generating economic growth through redistribution and expansion of the internal market, giving impetus to infrastructure works, combating hunger with direct support, expansion of education and public management of strategic resources, Haddad’s government programme adds a strong commitment to the social world, to the rights of women, blacks, peasants, sexual diversity communities and indigenous peoples.

Two absolutely opposing visions of the world and the country will polarize an electorate that will choose between two emotions that exist within them: hatred and love.

A Fundamental but Unfavourable Legislative Choice

At the same time, the outcome of the parliamentary election will be very important, as it will facilitate or hinder the executive task.

Dominated by nepotists clans, allies to the latifundium and a strong evangelical bench, with a male majority, white, rich and many parliamentarians over 50 years old, the chamber of deputies is not at all representative of the Brazilian demography.

Four hundred and eight of its 513 members chose to compete for re-election and many are likely to do so. On the other hand, female candidates make up just over 30%. With this, the essential renewal of gender and generation, the necessary parliamentary disconnection from the direct influence of the rural and business world, will be very difficult.

Even so, a multitude of candidates are preparing to reach a parliamentary seat. For the Senate, which renews two-thirds of its composition, 358 will compete for 54 seats. As far as federal deputies are concerned, 8595 aspire to occupy one of the 513 seats. In state elections (Brazil is a federal state) 17951 compete for 1035 places.

The parties that registered the most candidates are the PSL of Bolsonaro, the PSOL, which has Guilherme Boulos, the leader of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) and the PT, as its candidate for president.

Although the dragging of votes of the majority candidacies and the impulse of candidates from the social base may bring some new faces into parliament, it is to be expected that the current composition of the chambers which made possible the coup and regressive constitutional reforms – will not vary radically.

Why is this election so important for Latin America?

Brazil is the largest country in Latin America by extension, population and economic dimension. Because of its specific weight, what happens there completely transforms the regional landscape.

Haddad’s triumph would represent, after López Obrador’s devastating victory in Mexico, the possibility of reconstructing a new progressive axis, contrary to warmongering and favorable to the diplomatic agreement of differences, which would destroy the current aggressive strategy of the United States and the OAS with the clear purpose of recomposing their area of influence inLatin America and the Caribbean.

On the other hand, the victory of Lula’s candidate would constitute a renewed impulse to theregional integration project, leading to the strengthening of UNASUR and CELAC, mechanisms today virtually paralyzed by the servility of conservative governments. If fascism wins, even Mercosur would be at risk.

If Bolsonaro’s candidacy is won, the cravings for military tutelage and the emergence of fascist characters could proliferate throughout the region. The field for it has been sown with the supposed “fight against corruption“, with which American strategists aim to stigmatize popular governments and the State and politics in general – in order to banish all possible organic and public resistance to the advance of their multinationals.

This strategy was sealed at the last Summit of the Americas in Lima and is gaining popularity among peoples besieged by political situations of the highest disrepute, such as, for example, those in Peru or Guatemala.

Moreover, in the context of worsening social indicators and the exacerbation of exclusion, crime grows and with crime, the sense of insecurity and the clamour for repression increases. If there are no background transformations, the criminal phenomenon will tend to be growing and permanent by the financialist direction, not productive of capital, the growth of precarious work and the decrease in wages together with the cruel advertising pressure towards the prestige of luxury consumption.

In Brazil, said economist Marcio Pochmann in an interview with Fato’s Brazil, there are almost 28 million people looking for work, 27% of the total labor force.

Institutional decimation, social asphyxiation, the interested mediatization of political failure and the lack of collective revolutionary utopias could open the way to the appearance of fascist characters throughout the region, to the fateful return of military tutelage or both at the same time, as is shown in the case of Brazil.

Stop the fascist emergency

Exponents of misogyny and racism such as Bolsonaro try to emulate Trump’s path and appeal to cavernous motifs to join the extreme right wing movement that is now advancing strongly in the world.

Global fascism emerges as a stage of radical hypercapitalism that demands order in a world in dizzying social and environmental degradation, produced by its unlimited voracity. Faced with the just popular demand for the right to a dignified subsistence, repression and armies appear as the last resort, like the police of the multinationals.

Nationalisms also appear as a reaction to a cruel globalism, to a fierce imperialism, which has sought to undermine all support of its own identity in order to sell the trinkets of a uniform cultural industry.

At the same time, the great transformations suffered in the last decades in the social landscape, the accelerated changes in technology, in habits, the decline of perished institutions, but above all, the uncertainty towards the future, has put people in a situation of high instability.

Scourged by vertigo and exclusion, as has happened on other occasions in history, the human soul desperately seeks peace in a past idealised, in an impossible return, in a heartbreaking cry for not missing or having already missed the train. This opens the door to the false proclamations of those who uphold values already superseded by historical dynamics, but who provide comfort to the conscience swept away by events.

In the same sense, the dissolution of the social fabric, the empire of individualism, loneliness and the emptiness of extreme meaning make the need for collective contention fertile ground for involutive options to compensate.

On the other hand, the ongoing globalization, the unprecedented interconnection between the cultures of the world fertilises the strangeness and the longing for a monochromatic landscape that no longer exists. Sensation that is taken advantage of by the criers of xenophobia, interested in diverting the roots of the social problem by dumping it on the migrants.

In this way, a pre-fascist picture of high danger is configured, which leads us to alert and act without delay. A strong alternative utopia must break through and respond.

What can happen in the election in Brazil?

As far as the presidential race is concerned, Fernando Haddad, indicated by all the forecasts as a candidate on the rise, will grow until he absorbs a good percentage of the Lula vote, as his figure and his successor mission become better known. This will be enough to place him in the second round of voting.

For his part, Bolsonaro will also go on to the defining stage by concentrating a hard vote, probably impervious to any reason or alternative.

The military and far-right publicists will try to extort society by presenting the fallacious choice of their candidate “or chaos” – something similar to the dirty campaign against López Obrador in the 2006 election, which they called “a danger to Mexico”.

In the three weeks between the first and second round, there will once again be rubbish in the nets and manipulation in the media. The business world and its neoliberal candidates will be divided, as is the case today in the U.S. capitalist intern. Without a doubt, capital will place its“inalienable demands on both contenders, varnishing their interests with a supposed “economic governability“. Although some publicly declare their formal “disregard, they will want to co-govern in both cases by pressuring parliament.

But the real decision will be made by the Brazilian people.

For this reason, mobilization and popular consciousness will be the determining factors in preventing the fascist tragedy first, and in achieving real transformations for the benefit of the majorities afterwards. And not only in Brazil.


Translation Pressenza London

Categories: Politics, South America
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