27 June 2013

In the streets of Brazil * u p d a t e *

In the streets of Brazil   * u p d a t e *

Although the initial protests about bus fare rise and the public outcry that followed, after heavy-handed police reaction, were undoubtedly genuine, the situation took a disconcerting turn when a number of right-wing political forces, who have been out of power in Brazil for over 10 years, spotted the unique opportunity to infiltrate, galvanise the masses under the universally appealing banner of  - 'against corruption' - 'change brazil!' - and point the protest towards the leading Worker's Party, in a bid to create unrest, disruption, and ultimately destabilise the Government of Dilma Roussef.
The elite, you see, never expected Lula's party to remain in power for as long as they have.
Their snobbish assumption was that the Government of this ex-metal worker, a working-class hero that could not even spell properly ( ! ), was going to be so disorganised, that it would fold down quickly, and that they, the elite,  would soon be back in power.
But instead, under Lula's leadership, Brazil flourished, the economy prospered and the lives of many of the poorest improved with a number of socio-economic programs.
No one can dispute that the vast majority of people who took to the streets have plenty of valid reasons to protest about: corruption, impunity, rising taxes and inflation, Fifa, poor services.
But corruption and impunity, the loudest cry of all,  is not something particular to any single political party, I fear, but endemic to many public institutions in Brazil and all political parties.
The question, sadly, is not who is or isn't corrupt - but which party, despite corruption, has done and/or will continue to do more for the poorest in the country.
In this respect, only Dilma's party has done so, despite the scandals and many flaws.
Perhaps the protesters can be divided by:
a - those who feel disappointed by the Worker's Party, and wish they had done more.

(working class people)
b - those who feel that the Worker's Party went too far.
(the elite).
We must not overlook the fact that there are powerful and well-organised forces waiting in the wings, feeding this chaotic bonfire, desperate to overthrow a leftist Government, they simply cannot beat out of office in the election polls.
I am concerned that the voice of many protesters, by and large genuine, is being hijacked by the elite-controlled media, to sing a different tune the people are not even fully aware of.
We must also keep in mind that when sifting through social-media networks for 'real perspective' of the 'brazilian spring' - that the majority of working class brasileiros are NOT on twitter, or Facebook, and with a population of well over 190 million - a protest of 2, 3 or even 5, will only represent a fraction of its people.
At best, and perhaps, in an incredibly ironic twist, the protests might even strengthen Dilma's Government, and give her the opportunity to push forward some of the many proposed reforms that have in the past been blocked by Congress.
At worst, what many already fear: it is the reactionary right who stands to gain the most.
I'm in no doubt that whoever replaces the Worker's Party, if it does come to that, it will be to the detriment of the majority of the working people of Brazil, as many of their social policies, that have been introduced in the past 10 years, will undoubtly be scraped away in an instant.

There are those who go even further, and believe what is happening in Brazil is no sheer accident, but the fruit of smart and careful planning by an elite of businessmen, who favour a much harder privatisation of Brazilian exports and goods and  sharp change in currency regulation, and an easing of foreign investment.
Although far-fetched, it is not implausible.

Today, snooping around, I came across a number of undisputable strong connections between the people who started posting the 1st 'changebrazil#' hashtags, and a very powerful business and media conglomerate, + a number of influential right-wing empresarios and a PR and Media company.
All connected. It does make you pause and wonder.
I have also noticed that the vast majority of those protests spring to life out of Facebook groups, whilst appealing to a vast number of people with calls to 'stop corruption' or 'better brazil', they often hide a much darker agenda - their head-members, hidden beneath their style-challenged 'anounymous' mask, show the true face of fascism and extreme anti-democratic views.
It's a rather disconcerting thought that these thugs, weather ideology driven or paid by political barons, are holding the country's destiny in their filthy hands.
We can only hope that whichever way the situation develops in the next few weeks, and whatever its outcome, the Brazilian people will not jeopardise the democratic process, for which so many have fought and died for, and will eventually see the light.
Here's the most authoritative essay, by someone else who shares my views:
It's by Pedro Serrano, lawyer and professor of Constitucional Rights at PUC University,
one of the best in BR:
(article in port - but basically states most of the points I raised here)

And couple of articles here about how some of the protests are being hijacked by the right-wing, the elite, the Brazilian media (all main tv/press controlled by 3 elite Murdoch-like families, btw) - to promote their own interests:
- in portugues:
- https://medium.com/primavera-brasileira/c9f82fcc37e7 
and an excellent analyses here, understanding why the middle classes in BR are so pissed-off:
now, you gonna try to tell me that these people here are concerned about bus fares, better public transport and hospitals in Brazil?!  you have got to be kidding me.
These people have never been inside a bus in their lives and never will.
They are pissed off about high taxes financing social programs. 


"Do you receive 'food vouchers' from the Government? - then you have no right to Vote!" 
 thats's the democratic spirit. makes me sick.

"Bring back the Military!" - "Out w/ Dima and the Worker's Party"
 the friendly face behind 'anonymous brasil'

ps - almost forgot to mention: although this is my own personal take on the situation, it was much enhanced by the many brasileros that engaged/contributed to our chats and posts in my FB page (you know who you are) + many bright and savvy writers, bloggers and commentators on Brasil. obrigado a todos.

26 June 2013

Family roots - even a rotten tree, can sometimes bare good fruit.

I come from a pretty rotten family. Like all of us, that is one choice I did not make. But out of a long-line of elitist, arrogant, conservative bankrupt bankers and land-owners, there once sprung a beautiful branch, one that I cannot help but feel proud of.

My grandfather, Oswaldo Costa, was an outspoken newspaper man, a socialist of real integrity, who way back in the 50's and 60's fought avidly against dictatorship and corruption, was sent to jail, and had his newspaper O Semanario, closed down when the Military took over back in 1964.
His newspaper, campaigned very hard to keep Brazilian resources for the benefit of its people.
It is only due to the incredible bravery of many brasileiros like him that PETROBRAS, (the state owned Brazilian petrol co) one of our greatest assets, still exists today and it's thankfully not called Texaco-BR.
This is the front page, of the very last edition of his newspaper. His last editorial.
It is dated 1st April, 1964.
the very day the military Coup took place, and the darkest era in the history of my country began.
The military closed his newspaper down that very week.
I never got to meet him - he was gone by the time I was born, but I'd like to think that something of his DNA and ideals still lives on, I just wish I had more of his courage.
So, to all the Drugstore fans, who have been a little perplexed and bemused by my emotional political rants of the past few weeks - I hope they can now understand better why I fear a military coup, why it's not about whose Party it is anyway - but how strongly I hope for Democracy to be preserved and strengthened, and that the best interest of those who have no twitter accounts and no I-pads: the majority of the hard working people of Brazil, should always be at the forefront of our hearts.
(you can click pic to supersize, + right click 'view image' - takes 2 secs to load, but paper still v readable.)

- and how incredible that the discussion and concerns of his last editorial, still ring relevant in 2013. 
He would undoubtedly be very happy to hear that Dilma Roussef's proposal for royalties of PETROBRAS to be ploughed into education and health, has been approved by the BR Congress today.