MST Leader Joao Pedro Stedile: ‘We need direct elections now and an emergency plan for the people’

By: Joana Tavares / Source: Brasil de Fato / May 18, 2017

Joao Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) and of the Brazil People’s Front, analyzes the Brazilian political scene.

Brasil de Fato: Why does the Globo network need to publish audios that incriminate Michel Temer? Why do they insist on indirect elections?

João Pedro Stédile: The Globo network became the main party of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. It protects the interests of capital, manipulates public opinion and coordinates with the ideological sectors of the bourgeoisie, which include the Judiciary Power, some prosecutors, and the press in general. They know Brazil and the world are going through a serious economic, social and environmental crisis, caused by capitalism. In Brazil, there’s a political crisis, because the bourgeoisie needed to have hegemony in Congress and in the federal government to put the negative effects of the crisis on the shoulders of the working class. Therefore, the Globo network is an ideological author of the coup.

Putting Temer in power after Dilma’s impeachment was a mistake [for them], since his gang is full of corrupt lumpen politicians and opportunists, who weren’t concerned with the bourgeois project for the country–they merely cared about lining their own pockets. The “spoiled meat” operation was another faux pas that helped discredit the PMDB (Temer’s party) since many of them were involved and ended up provoking a sector of the agro-exporting bourgeoisie. Now they need to create an alternative to Temer. It will be decided over the next few days, whether he resigns, is judged by the Supreme Electoral Court or if the impeachment requests submitted to Congress are passed. Over the next few days the successor will be chosen, and many factors will influence that. The outcome won’t be the fruit of some Machiavellian plan but of the class struggle, and how that struggle plays out over the next days and weeks.

Q: How is the putschist sector reacting?

A: The sector that reached power through the coup is internally divided. That helps us, because in previous coups, like 1964, and during the 1994 government of Fernando Cardoso, the bourgeoisie was united, under a single command, a single project for the country and a strong rearguard in US capital. Now, they don’t have a project for the country, they lost their US rearguard (they were allied with Clinton) and want to salvage only their own particular interest. José de Souza Martins, PSDB sociologist, said: “reforms in retirement and labor policies are measures that increase exploitation of workers, but they also go against the capitalist project for the country.”

The putschists don’t have a unified command. They’re divided into the sector with economic power (including Finance Minister Meirelles, and the company that denounced Temer, JBS), the group of PMDB lumpens (Romero Jupé, Eliseu Padilha, Temer himself), who have power over the law but are beginning to crack. There’s also an ideological group made up of Globo and the Judiciary Power, but there are internal contradictions among them. That’s why they don’t know whom to replace Temer with. Their ideal solution would be to take Lula out of the picture, make a transition government that the majority of the population accepts (like Minister Cármen Lúcia) until October 2018, and then try to win the elections.

But their division also affects the candidacies, since they can’t manage to construct a candidate like Cardoso or Collor. They’re testing public opinion, presenting João Doria (Mayor of Sao Paulo) or Luciano Hulk. But polls show they would deepen the political crisis.

Q: In this context, what can workers and people’s organizations do?

A: We, at the Brazil People’s Front,  made up of over 80 people’s movements and political organizations, are debating since last year that the best interest of the working class is in a packet of measures that complement each other.

First of all, to take the putschists down and suspend every legislative measure they’ve taken against the people. Then, having a transition government that calls presidential elections in October 2017 and discussing an immediate political reform that guarantees the will of the people is respected, and voting for a new Congress.

Another item is for the new government to convene an Exclusive Constituent Assembly to build a new “Emergency Plan for the People,” which includes over 70 emergency measures that the transition government and the new government will have to implement. We believe this would take the country out of economic, social and political crisis.

During the electoral campaign we need to discuss a new model for Brazil, which takes into account the need for structural reforms in the mid-to-long-term, such as reform of taxes, media, the agrarian sector and the Judiciary Power itself. But for this to be possible, the masses need to take to the streets urgently. The strength of the people is exercised there, in mobilizations, occupations and pressure.

I believe over the next few days there’ll be plenary sessions to discuss specific dates for mobilizations. We believe next week is decisive. We need to camp outside the Supreme Federal Court to ensure the putschists resign and the corrupt officials denounced by Joesley Batista go to prison. We need to mobilize in all capitals and big cities next Sunday May 21. We need to transform May 24 into a nation-wide mobilization, occupy Legislative Assemblies, routes, everything. The people need to lead and put pressure to achieve the changes we need.

Q: Can direct elections benefit the country? How? Who would the candidates be?

A: Of course, direct elections for President and for a new Congress are indispensable for democracy and to get the country out of the political crisis. Only through the ballot box can we attain a government that represents the majority and has the legitimacy to make changes for the people that also allow us to leave the economic crisis behind. Because the economic crisis is the foundation of the social and political crisis. The candidate of the working class is Lula da Silva, who represents the majority of the Brazilian people, can commit to a project of change and support our emergency plan.

There will probably be other candidates, like Bolsonaro, who represents the far-right, and Marina Silva, who tries to attract a centrist electorate, but her real voter base is only the Assemblies of God Church. Doria is a cheap playboy. And the Globo network hasn’t had time to create an alternative, like Collor was in 1989.

Q: What’s the way to prevent the backlash of the putschist agenda?

A: To mobilize, fight, and not leave the streets. We need to work in the upcoming days on the possibility of a general strike with indefinite durations. All our militants need to be on alert, since the next few days will be decisive to define Brazil’s destiny. The strength of the working class is only expressed on the streets.

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