Issued by the Office of the Chairperson,
International Coordinating Committee,
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Published: 04 September 2016
Brazil’s Senate voted last August 31 to confirm the impeachment of President Dilma Roussef of the Brazilian Workers Party (PT) in a parliamentary coup led by the country’s most corrupt and venal politicians. The coup signals the return to power of the most reactionary and loyal puppets of US imperialism in Latin America’s most populous country and largest economy.
Roussef was impeached for allegedly trying to embellish government accounts by delaying payments to the state-run Banco do Brasil in order to cover up the shortfall in the federal budget during the run-up to the 2014 elections. This is an accounting practice that previous presidents, and many governors of Brazil, routinely used in the past to appear more competent in the eyes of voters. The federal prosecutor assigned to the case concluded that this did not constitute a crime and yet three-quarters of the Senate voted to boot her out office to make way for the much-reviled former Vice-President Michel Temer to take over the Presidency.
The real motive for the impeachment was revealed in leaked transcripts of phone conversations in which a former Senator and former executive in the state-run energy conglomerate Petrobras discussed the need to remove Dilma Roussef from power to avoid an ongoing corruption investigation that implicated leading members of the country’s political and business establishment. Indeed 49 of 81 Brazilian senators who ousted Roussef are the subject of criminal investigations or have already been convicted of corruption charges. Temer himself stands accused of receiving millions in bribes and illegal campaign funds and is banned from running for any political office for eight years for violating election laws.
Through this parliamentary coup, Temer usurped the highest office in Brazil and immediately assured the country’s oligarchs and international finance capital that his new government will reverse the social programs and independent foreign policy stance of the PT government since 2003 in order to revive the level of profit accumulation and plunder.
Roussef had already started to adopt austerity measures since the commodities boom that financed past social programs had gone bust in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. But Temer and his ministers are promising deeper cutbacks on healthcare spending, public housing and the bolsa familia poverty relief system; open up more indigenous land and forests to big landlords and agro-industrial capitalists; sell off state assets in airports and utilities; enter into more public-private partnerships in infrastructure development; open up the oil and gas industry, airlines, land purchases and natural resources to foreign monopoly capitalists; and “modernize” the country’s labor laws and pension systems to make workers work more hours, more years and for less pay.
More significantly, the coup government has signaled its intention to realign Brazil’s foreign policy with US imperialist interests. Under the PT, Brazil joined other progressive governments in the region in rejecting the U.S.-designed “Free Trade Area of the Americas” in 2005, frustrating Washington’s attempt to bind the entire hemisphere to neoliberal trade and investment rules. The PT’s Lula de Silva, Roussef’s predecessor, also opposed attempts by the U.S. government to isolate Venezuela in the international community, and oust Hugo Chavez from power. The previous Brazilian government also sought to overturn the U.S.-backed military coup in Honduras, and opposed the expansion of U.S. access to military bases in Colombia in 2009.
Over the last decade, Brazil has been a prime mover in the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the BRICS Group of countries (together with Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other international initiatives that promote solidarity among developing countries and independence from US imperialism.
It is no wonder that the US State Department was among the first to express support for the coup government of Temer and has met with senior officials even before the recent Senate vote to confirm the May impeachment of Roussef by Brazil’s lower house of Congress.
The people of Brazil are only the latest victims of US-backed regime change in Latin America meant to reverse the advances of “leftist” or progressive governments in the region since the turn of the century. Venezuela’ Hugo Chavez was the first target of a coup attempt which failed in 2002. The country continues to be destabilized by reactionary forces with US support which are seeking to oust President Nicolas Maduro. In 2004, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced to go into exile by a US-backed military coup. Likewise, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was forcibly removed from office by the army in 2009. In Ecuador, a police mutiny nearly succeeded in ousting President Rafael Correa in 2010.
Meanwhile Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was removed from office by the Senate through impeachment proceedings in 2012 similar to Brazil’s just concluded parliamentary coup. In both instances, the democratically elected Presidents were ousted by the oligarchy and international finance capital that controlled parliament, the judiciary and the mass media with support from NGOs, civic associations, trade unions and political parties funded by the USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Office for Transition Initiatives, American Center for International Labor Solidarity, American Institute for Free Labour Development, and other overseas extensions of the US State Department.
The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) strongly condemns the US-backed parliamentary coup in Brazil and continuing US intervention and destabilization attempts throughout Latin America. We support the struggle of the people of Brazil and the entire region to defend and uphold their rights against the renewed neoliberal onslaught by monopoly capitalists and oligarchs. We are one with the people of Latin America in the struggle to defeat US imperialism and fight for democracy, justice and national and social liberation.