Brazil’s coup government represses Olympics protests, attempts pension and health cuts

RIO DE JANEIRO – Signs calling on Brazil’s new interim President Michel Temer to leave office were forbidden in areas around the Olympic Games and other protests were suppressed here last week. Temer became president after the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff in what many described as a legislative coup.

Attorney General Rodrigo Janot was requested to take “urgent measures” to end abuses by security forces in putting down demonstrations. In response, the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro issued an injunction barring Brazil’s security forces and the International Olympic Committee from prohibiting the protests.

The Temer government’s actions are consistent with a number of regressive policies enacted since his taking office. These policies cut federal public services in health, education and other areas. In fact, the entire program of the Workers Party that began with the Lula government in 2002 and continued with Rousseff is threatened with reversal.

Political parties that in the past were repudiated at the polls have been appointed to several important ministries. Mendonça Dem Son from the Democrats now leads the Ministry of Education and José Serra from the Social Democracy Party (PSDB) now occupies the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

Temer’s appointee to the Ministry of Justice and Citizenship, Alexandre de Moraes, also of the PSDB, has strong ties to a drug trafficking organization.

Recently, Serra was implicated in operation “Lava Jato” for receiving dirty money to the tune of $34.5 million during his campaign for president in 2010. Serra has hired unqualified people without diplomatic experience to advise him. His first action as minister of foreign relations was to withdraw Brazil’s vote in favor of a UNESCO resolution supporting the struggle for Palestinian sovereignty, safeguards to Palestinian cultural heritage, and the distinct character of East Jerusalem. Brazil had voted for the resolution in April this year. In addition, Sierra has compromised Brazil’s foreign policy in Latin America.

The Minister of Education Mendonça Filho, met in Brasilia with a porn star Alexandre Frota, who proposed an educational project called a “school without party.” The proposal, which affects the teaching of geography, history and sociology, has an overtly fascist imprint. Frota has no academic training but actively participated in marches in favor of the coup since 2015 and the organization of groups of the extreme right.

Sergio Etchegoyen was appointed by Temer to the Secretariat of Institutional Security and is responsible for the National Defense Plan. He has undertaken a mission to monitor left movements. He now has under his command the ABIN, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency.

Etchegoyen is a general who began his career in the Army during the military dictatorship. The military regime killed thousands of Brazilians, hunting, exiling, torturing and killing political opponents, students, artists, intellectuals, and anyone suspected of opposing the dictatorship.

Adding to the danger to democracy, on August 5, a former minister of the Supreme Court and current minister of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Gilmar Mendes, filed a motion requesting the cancellation of the Workers Party registration. Due to the impeachment, the Workers Party’s legal status is now in jeopardy. The outlawing of political parties is something that only occurred during the military dictatorship.

Parallel to this, Temer is sending anti-labor legislation to Congress, removing the right of workers to receive salary increases, pension cuts raising the minimum retirement age and restricting benefits by age and disability, and health care changes which transform the Unified Health System, a service that offers free public healthcare, to one in which participants have to pay.

Brazil’s Senate voted to bring Dilma Rousseff to trial August 25.

Photo: Demonstrators hold signs forming a message that reads “Temer Out,” in Portuguese, during a protest against Brazilian coup leader and interim president Michel Temer on the route of the Olympic torch at the Copacabana beach. | AP


Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos
Lucivania Nascimento dos Santos

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