When hundreds of thousands of Brazilians took to the streets in Sao Paulo (400 thousand persons), Rio de Janeiro (300 thousand) and other big cities in Brazil to protest against the increase in the price of public transport and to denounce the corruption of politicians, the news surprised the whole world.
Afterwards, the police repression of June 13th triggered a remarkable mass process comparable to the one in 1992 when Brazilians took the streets yelling “Fuera Collor” [Collor, go away] against President Collor de Mello. The magnitude of the rallies indicated that the national political situation was entering a new stage.
There is a factor that differentiates the Brazilian protests from those that have been increasingly taking place in other parts of the world. This is the fact that they are taking place in a country governed by leaders that enjoy a high degree of popular approval and who have had undeniable successes in their social policies with welfare programs highly valued by the humble masses. In the international arena their merit is acknowledged for having placed the nation among the first ten economies in the globe. Their leading role in the promotion of Latin American unity is also evident.
Another difference is the official response that displays an unusually receptive tone in contrast with what has happened in other countries in similar circumstances. Dilma Rousseff said she was proud of the mobilizations, and Lula expressed, “those voices in the streets must be heard, because nobody in its right mind can be against them.”
It was as if the masses were not showing a will to stop the government but a desire to push it forward. It is evident that Brazil is living a process whose features are still taking shape. While all political trends seemed taken by surprise, they immediately started competing for the guidance of the movement in a context where the left -despite its great fragmentation- is the main unquestionable leader and the masses are assigning them the duty to prevent the right from taking over the leadership of the mobilizations to serve its interests and harm the aspirations of the people and the more general interests of the nation.
Brazil has not made a social revolution. Despite the fact that the popular masses have managed to impose their numbers in the electoral processes that have formally given the political power to the left, the real power is shared with other forces. Among the latter are those representing the national capitalist businesses. These are not always willing to subordinate their own economic interests to patriotic objectives; even when, in given contexts, they participate in alliances with the left as nationalist political forces based on reciprocal concessions.
In fact, neither Lula da Silva, nor Dilma Rouseff received with their high postings obtained in the elections, any popular mandate to make the social revolution. Lula was compelled to sign a kind of public commitment to “respect the contracts” which is equivalent to maintaining the foundations of the neoliberal economic system and the bourgeois representative democracy. Besides, they represent not only their party, but the coalition of several parties that gave them the victory. Therefore they must move their government performance within the boundaries allowed by such a coalition.
We can then infer that, to achieve the mandate to carry out the social revolution -a need of their people and the vocation and will of their highest leaders- the road could be that of a formidable popular mobilization such as the one that seems to be in the making. This would need great leaders which -together with Lula da Silva and Dilma Rouseff- the Brazilian left has plenty of. The left would have to be ready to act as a united front against the efforts of the right to take over the movement; and also to promote anti-capitalist solutions in the unpredictable contexts that may merge.
The Brazilian crisis has no other way out than the road to the left. How much is achieved, or not achieved, in the present circumstances will depend on the intelligence and skill of the revolutionaries in that country.
Lula paraphrased in a certain occasion: politics is the art of what is possible to, at a given moment, attempt the impossible. And that moment may have arrived.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3837.html