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(en) Brazil, Brief analysis of the episodes of September 7, 2013 by Bruno Lima Rocha

Date Sun, 15 Sep 2013 00:22:45 +0300


As I have been doing for the months of June and July I present here, in point form, a brief analysis of this year’s “Independence” Day protests. The Saturday, “day of the nation”, was marked by protests in all the state capitals in Brazil, besides Brasilia. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that they were the most violent September 7 protests in the country’s history, with acts in more than 150 cities. The analysis follows: - – It is a fact. The date of Brazil’s Independence is a factor of national unity. The Brazilian Army as a myth of the integrating institution of the three “races” arising from the Battle of Guararapes (in the current state of Pernambuco, in 1654) against the Dutch has no great significance. September 7 never enthused, like much of the official history of a country that was born as a united kingdom with a Lusophone colonial metropolis.

– A date like February 7(martyrdom of Sepé Tiaraju in the region of the Guaranis Missions), November 18 (Workers Insurrection of Rio de Janeiro in 1918), July 09 (1917 Sao Paulo General Strike) and November 20 (for Zumbi dos Palmares) has a much stronger representational weight, equating the popular struggles in Brazil to those of the 1st of May to the working class on a world scale.

– For the previous stage of the Brazilian struggle, even at the time before and after the PT’s assumption of Executive Power, the Grito dos Excluídos (Cry of the Excluded), a consensual march convened by Liberation Theology within the Catholic left, was enough for the level of the previous protest. The first Grito dos Excluídos took place during the ECO-92 summit in Rio de Janeiro (World Ecology Conference organised by the UN in Rio) and afterwards the date gained regularity in the year 1995. The day has always been about symbolic struggle and so it remained, changing perspective. From the 1980s until the middle of the last decade protests with the same significance as Grito dos Excluídos have even functioned like an escape valve or a way to make public a permanent agenda and struggle. For the current moment, a large part of Grito has become irrelevant.

– September 7, 2013 carried with it the prospect of renewing the June protests. It is obvious that the date is symbolic and the distance between the left coming from the tradition of radical reformism and that of libertarian orientation is also obvious. Within this path, organised, especifista, anarchism is not the majority but, in focus, it is large. Particularly, one such incident gained a larger dimension in Rio Grande do Sul, when Governor Tarso Genro (PT) ordered – without a warrant – the Polícia Civil intelligence to invade the headquarters of the political organisation the Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (Gaucha Anarchist Federation, FAG). The attempt to criminalise the Federation resulted in the national dissemination of the episode, increasing the FAG’s notoriety and political respect. But, contrary to what was understood at the end of July, the attempts to criminalise the protests and the hijacking of the agenda and direction of the movement did not stop.

– The criminalisation is in regards to the issue of the use of masks. First it was the state of Pernambuco which, through an ordinance (administrative decree) from the Secretary of Public Security and ratified by Governor Eduardo Campos (PSB), prohibited the use of masks in any form of protest. Since then repression against any type of protest increased, forcing the demonstrators to seek forms of protection and response. The increase in the level of violence and the criminalisation of the act of hiding one’s face – something predictable once there is filming the whole time – may increase the confrontations, but decrease the number of adherents of disorganised people like there were in May, June (the peak) and July of this year.

– Already the hijacking of the agenda, when the mainstream media ends up singing the choir with the government – when they affirm the absurd, that the protests are a blow from the right – when it includes demands foreign to all the demonstrators. Who ever is organised would no longer convene an act in order to strengthen measures that favour the opposition to Dilma, and even less the young people who join the Black Bloc. Tackling the endemic corruption and denouncing it is one way of exemplifying the crime of the Rio and Sao Paulo governing elite and their relations with Brazilian and transnational capital. Respectively, Sérgio Cabral Filho (PMDB) and Geraldo Ackmin (PSDB) today galvanise in their respective governments an umbilical relationship with campaign financiers and government purchasing and service contracts. Thus, in the country’s two largest cities and states the level of conflict will only rise.

– I conclude by affirming that it is the tendency of mass movements to have ebbs and flows, thus being that the incidence of fighting on the street decreased in the months after June, but they have not stopped. The state agendas gained strength, but at the same time are in tandom with a new culture of street politics. On July 25 even Globo (television network) recognised the anarchist presence in Brazil and did a special report (Sem Fronteiras, on its 24 hour news channel, Globo News) which although very much centred on Occupy Wall Street and the anti-globalisation movement, at least made the ideology and its organised component visible. Those who know the power of agenda know that this is the recognition of a new relation of forces. Today, in Brazil, exists the paradox of having greater capacity for timely mobilisation – even violent – than conditions of permanent grassroots organisation throughout the year. If this distance decreases, the new political culture of the streets may be the balancing scales in the year of the 2014 World Cup.

Translation: Jonathan Payn
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