As we go to press, it is already becoming clear that the imperialists and their local stooges are not going to accept their election defeat in Brazil lying down. The current US ambassador to Brazil is Liliana Ayalde, who, as ‘ambassador’ to Paraguay from 2008 to 2011, oversaw preparations for the coup that ousted President Fernando Lugo from office in 2012.
Removing Dilma Rousseff has become a major goal of US imperialism for several reasons. First, she is one of five heads of state in the BRICS group of countries that have agreed to create a $100bn investment bank aimed at undermining the US’s financial hegemony in the developing world. She also supports the creation of a new international reserve currency to replace the dollar.
Second, her government’s social programmes have resulted in 26 million families (40 million people since Lula took office in 2002) being lifted out of poverty – at the expense of the profit margins of the imperialist exploiters and their local sidekicks.
Third, Brazil under Rousseff is working hard to undermine US domination in the field of technology. Following Edward Snowden’s revelations of US electronic spying in September 2013, President Rousseff ordered the cancelling of contracts with Microsoft and their replacement with Brazil’s own Expresso system in government departments. A new transatlantic fibreoptic cable is now being planned that will link Brazil directly with Portugal, thus bypassing the USA and its networks, while an audit of foreign-made equipment in Brazil (checking for security issues) is accelerating the country’s drive towards technological self-reliance.
Equally important is the drive for self-sufficiency in energy and the push to wrest control of oil exploration out of Anglo-American hands, working instead with new partners in Russia and China. The vast new oilfields that have been discovered offshore will be kept in Brazilian public ownership. (See ‘BRICS Brazil president next Washington target’ by William Engdahl, New Eastern Outlook, 18 November 2014)
Although the Workers Party candidate Dilma Rousseff won the presidential election by a narrow margin, the election was extremely hard fought, and parties of the right and far right (including some open fascists) made significant gains. Ex-soldier Jair Bolsonaro, an open defender of the military dictatorship, won the most votes in Rio de Janeiro. In Rio Grande do Sul, too, open fascist and big landlord Luis Carlos Heinze topped the polls.
Some representatives on the right such as these are calling for a new military dictatorship, or even for open imperialist intervention in order to oust Rousseff from the presidency, while Brazil’s corporate media are continuing the campaign of vilification that they conducted at fever pitch throughout the election period. Now they are calling for her impeachment and are mobilising some of Brazil’s better-off workers to take part in anti-government demonstrations.
Meanwhile, after a reduction in their votes, parties of the left make up just 16 percent of deputies in the national congress. The Workers’ Party lost 18 of their 88 seats (out of a total of 513) and the communists lost five out of their previous 15. This will make it all the more necessary for President Dilma to continue to find allies for government from among the centrist parties.
The battle for Brazil, it would seem, is only just beginning.
The following interview is with Fábio Palacio de Azevedo, a director at the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB)’s publishing house in Saõ Paulo. Thanks also to the PCdoB international department’s Thomas de Toledo for additional information on the situation.
What was your party’s role in the recent elections?
For the last 12 years, the PCdoB has been one of the protagonists of the new political cycle, led by democratic and progressive forces that are struggling for changes in the entrenched Brazilian structures – supporting social advances and the strengthening of national sovereignty.
Communists made an outstanding contribution to the recent election campaign. Their combative militancy brought energy to the battles held in the squares and streets of the country, and contributed to politicising the campaign.
How do you interpret the results?
It was a great victory! Right up to the end, the outcome was undecided; the possibility of a defeat was present at every moment. A victory for the right-wingers would have altered the balance of forces not only in Brazil, but across Latin America and the world.
As you know, Brazil is the nearest of the BRICS countries to the US, and the only one in the Americas. So the election battle took on a global importance. The campaign was a straightforward and open war. Brazilian right-wingers knew that a fourth electoral defeat would make their position very difficult.
What challenges lie ahead?
The new government will be installed amid an intense political struggle. Defeated at the polls for the fourth consecutive time, the neoliberal and conservative opposition is engaged in destabilising the country, and will do anything to stop the progressive forces succeeding with their plans for the new government.
Meanwhile, the progressive parties are concentrating on the task of deepening the political support base built up during President Dilma’s second term. She is seeking to establish her new administration through dialogue and on the basis of her electoral programme.
One of the difficult areas on which our party’s attention is now focused is the resumption of economic growth, in view of the need for national development in all spheres. The national leadership of the PCdoB believes it is necessary to complete a programme of deep democratic structural reform in Brazil (in particular in relation to ownership of the media, for example). Only then will it be possible to fulfil President Dilma’s campaign promise to build “a new government with new ideas” and enact pro-people reforms against the resistance of the comprador bourgeoisie and its imperialist backers.
What are the PCdoB’s main aims in the next four years?
The election results for the communists were not completely satisfactory. Despite the victory of President Dilma and the unprecedented conquest of the government of Maranhão (a state in the northeast of Brazil), where Flavio Dino was elected to be the new communist governor, we nevertheless suffered a setback, with a reduction of our votes overall and a cut in the number of communist deputies in the national congress. On the other hand, the number of communist deputies in Brazil’s regional parliaments has grown from 18 to 25.
In this context, the next meeting of our party’s central committee takes on great importance. The party’s leadership will discuss the implementation of electoral tactics, as well what we can do to improve our mass work and to strengthen the party politically, ideologically and organisationally.