During the Olympic Games in Rio and other cities Brazilians vigorously expressed their opposition to the coup presidency of Michel Temer and his backers.
The impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff initiated by the Brazilian oligarchy and the imperialists that stand behind them is now in its final stage. They had hoped “interim President” Temer’s presence at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics would strike a blow to the people’s opposition and keep it from bursting out onto the world stage. However, the opposite happened and the people used every opportunity, including the Opening Ceremony, to say No to him and to the coup.
The people have been holding large demonstrations in cities around the country, including during the pre-Games Torch Relay. They also refused to have their voices silenced during the Olympics, using the Games as a venue to show their rejection of the coup and its leaders. “Fora Temer!” (Temer, Out!) was seen and heard everywhere in Rio and beyond. It was on banners at the front of mass rallies, on signs held up by spectators in the stands, on people’s T-shirts and written on their bodies as well as shouted in stadiums.
Things got so bad for the coup president that he was accorded only the most perfunctory of roles in the August 5 Opening Ceremony seen around the world – of declaring the games open, the traditional function of the host country’s head of state. Even the few seconds it took for him to do that and sit down again were met with loud and sustained booing from the audience. At the Closing Ceremony on August 21 Temer was nowhere to be seen.
During the first few days of the Games, police, soldiers and Olympic volunteers moved in to remove those who in any way protested inside Olympic venues. This was said to be in response to a policy of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which attempted to justify the actions in the name of the “clean arena policy” in line with the IOC Charter’s ban on “political, religious, or racial propaganda in any Olympic site.”
During a women’s soccer match between the United States and France at the Mineirão stadium in Belo Horizonte, nine spectators wearing t-shirts spelling out Fora Temer were told they had to take them off or leave the stadium.
One Olympic Games volunteer is reported to have became outraged when he saw commandos grab a seated man at an archery event and remove him for holding up a sign with the same slogan. The incident was caught on camera and shared on Facebook millions of times. Rather than being asked to carry out a similar order, the man who was the coordinator of a group of 30 volunteers at the venue quit.
“For the IOC to decide what we can and cannot do in my country is not right,” he said. “Freedom of speech is guaranteed in our constitution, and the committee can’t do anything against that.”
On August 9 this stand was affirmed by a federal judge who issued an injunction forbidding police or security from removing fans from Olympic events for protesting peacefully by wearing T-shirts, waving signs or chanting slogans. Judge João Augusto Carneiro Araújo ruled that Brazilians do not forfeit their constitutionally protected right to free speech just by attending Olympic games and set a fine of 10,000 reales (US$3,000) for each violation of his ruling.
Mass actions against the coup and impeachment proceedings against President Rouseff were held August 9 in (top to bottom) São Paulo, Fortaleza and Natal, as well as other cities.
Impeachment process coming to a head
Brazil’s Senate is presently hearing arguments in an impeachment trial to determine whether to permanently remove President Dilma Rousseff from power for allegedly manipulating the national budget to conceal a fiscal shortfall prior to her 2014 re-election, or to reinstate her. Dilma has been suspended since May, with Vice-President Michel Temer installed as acting president for a maximum of 180 days while the impeachment process runs its course in Congress. An investigation by the Federal Prosecutor’s office in July has already concluded that Rousseff did not violate any fiscal laws, nor does what she is accused of constitute an impeachable offence. However the oligarchy has continued trying to hide their own corruption and escape prosecution by carrying out a parliamentary coup d’etat against the legitimate president. It is reported for example that of the 81 members of Brazil’s Senate (59 of whom voted earlier this month to proceed with the impeachment trial), 60 percent have cases against them for bribery, money laundering and other crimes. Five face criminal charges and 24 have been placed under investigation by the Supreme Court. Additionally, three of the cabinet ministers appointed by “interim President” Temer had to resign within a period of one month because of evidence coming to light of their involvement in bribery and corruption as part of what has become called the “Car Wash,” a scandal connected with the national oil company Petrobras.
President Dilma Rousseff attends event August 23, 2016.
The parties of the Brazilian oligarchy are desperately hoping to have their coup against Dilma rubber-stamped by a favourable vote in the Senate expected on August 30 or 31 when the impeachment trial concludes. Their attempts to tie Dilma to one or another scandal, which have been unsuccessful, are also aimed at former President Luiz Inácio ”Lula” da Silva. They fear Lula will run again for the presidency in the next election under the banner of the Workers’ Party and if elected will block their attempts to impose a vicious new anti-social offensive in Brazil and use the country as a base for U.S. imperialism. Proof of their intentions is that as soon as he took over as “interim president” while Dilma’s case wound its way through the Congress, Michel Temer immediately set about appointing his own cabinet and changing government policy to reflect the oligarchy’s demands for privatization, harsher austerity measures, attacking workers’ rights and making changes to foreign policy.
Dilma for her part says she is the subject of a fraudulent political trial, is guilty of nothing and has no intention of giving up the fight or resigning. Nor are the Brazilian people fooled by the attempts of the coup government to use the issue of corruption allegations to whitewash the corruption of the oligarchy and their political representatives. They continue to be in action to say NO to the coup and its despised leaders.
(Photos: PT, M. Ninja, CUT)