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First year of the Bolsonaro government: authoritarianism and ultraliberalism in the midst of global polarization

We have closed an important year for the work of our Revista Movimento. In 2019, when the Movimento Esquerda Socialista (MES) celebrated its 20th anniversary, we launched regular and special editions of our magazine, edited new books and relaunched our website. The effort to maintain a militant publication and a space for the debate of socialist ideas is even more important at a time of confrontation in our country and the expansion of class polarization and struggles in the world.

The first year of the Bolsonaro government closes under the mark of ultraliberalism and authoritarianism. Under the command of Paulo Guedes and the unanimous support of the great press, the bourgeoisie and their parties, the reform of the social security system was approved this year, attacking the working class and the Brazilian people, already exposed to high unemployment and the growing precariousness of work. The lowering of labor costs and the creation of profitable investment opportunities for transnational capital – such as the recent privatization of water and sanitation – are the great objectives of this government.

The delivery of the pre-salt, exploration fields, refineries, subsidiaries and BR Distribuidora shows the accelerated privatization of Petrobras, accompanied by the probable delivery, next year, of Eletrobrás and the Correios [Post Office]. At the same time, the government signals the deepening of external dependence and a policy of trade opening that favors agribusiness. As a result, it follows the economic stagnation.

In order to make this economic war program viable to guarantee capitalist accumulation, the Bolsonaro government presents itself as a true preventive counter-revolution, extending authoritarianism as a means to make the shock against the people viable. Not by chance, throughout the year, members of the presidential clan and ministers like Paulo Guedes and Augusto Heleno openly flirted with the idea of a “new AI-5,” that is, the threat of installing a dictatorship if popular mobilization grows.

This is, on the one hand, a threat and, on the other, an explicit signal to the organisation of the extreme right and its reactionary allies in the state apparatus, in the military forces and in militias, with which the presidential family has an intense relationship, as the Queiroz case and the relations between Bolsonaro and the militiamen involved in the murder of Marielle Franco have shown.

At the same time, threats against social movements in the countryside and in the city are growing; press agencies are hearing threats from the president himself; the arts, education and culture are the target of underfunding, slander and censorship promoted by reactionary agents occupying the institutions in these areas.

The destruction of forests and the actions of militias in the countryside, which have been renewed with the signs of support coming from the center of power, marked Brazil in 2019, with an increase in deforestation rates of 70% by December, the assassination of indigenous leaders, such as the Guajajara defenders in Maranhão, and the measures to legalize the land grab recently announced by Bolsonaro and Teresa Cristina. The shameful performance of Ricardo Salles at the COP-25 showed a country on its knees to the interests of ruralism and, externally, to Donald Trump and the extreme international denialist right, as in all Brazilian foreign policy.

The creation of the “Alliance for Brazil,” a clearly neo-fascist party, amidst the difficulty in the parliamentary articulation of Bolsonaro, shows a decisive option for the political and physical organization of the extreme right. At the same time, governors like João Doria and Wilson Witzel seek to dispute this space and orient their police to a policy of extermination, revealed by the scandalous increase in deaths promoted by policemen in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and by cases like the murder of girl Ágatha Felix and the massacre of nine young people in the Paraisópolis slum.

Faced with such a scenario, it is clear the need to build a solid opposition in Brazil, one that occupies the streets, in addition to the spaces of parliamentary dispute, where the PSOL bench has faced important battles. In 2019, in particular, attempts to dismantle Brazilian education, through billionaire courts and the equipping of the area’s organs, were confronted by the enormous demonstrations of May 15 and 30 throughout the country, followed by a day of activities throughout the second semester. As a result, the government had to retreat from the courts and the private “Future-se” line was delayed in the face of social resistance and internal disputes in the bolsonarismo.

It is necessary to organize the growing and diffuse indignation against the Bolsonaro government, which faces the highest rates of disapproval in history in its first year of government. Not by chance, the ghost of Chile is permanently evoked. In 2019, political polarization in the streets was a hallmark, with multitudinous demonstrations in Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, among other places. With its multiple causes, expressions and demands, this powerful international day of rebellions has shown a willingness to fight the masses against neoliberal impoverishment and government attacks, revealing the instability of transnational capital domination in the face of an unresolved crisis.

Therefore, our challenge is to build the PSOL – which in 2020 will hold its 8th Congress – as a party rooted in the slums, in the struggles of the poor workers of the countryside and the city, of the youth, that can foster unity to defeat Bolsonaro, but postulate itself as an independent alternative for the future.

A new page to support and build new alternatives in Latin America and the world, defending the power of the workers and people against the 1% of the rich and privileged, and a society without exploitation.

Writing office

  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder