Brazil: artists against the impeachment

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Brazil: artists against the impeachment

The artists of Brazil are taking action, says Kimberley Brown.


by Ocupa MinC RJ Facebook page.

Coup = suddenly taking the power of a government (illegally)

Impeachment = accusing a public official of a crime

‘Temer Out!’ ‘Against the Coup!’ and ‘Culture and Work!’

These are some of the signs all over the walls of the Ministry of Culture building in San Paulo. Visual artists, filmmakers, designers, dancers, actors and many others took over the building more than a month ago. They are still there protesting against the impeachment. Many people say the impeachment is a coup.

‘We artists, and the people of the country’s democracy, do not accept this new government and its control,’ said Cesar Haber Paelornik, a graphic designer and part of the occupation.

The Senate voted to stop Dilma Rousseff being president and put her on trial for impeachment in May. Michel Temer has been running the government since then. Many political analysts do not understand this. Many Brazilians are angry. Rousseff is one of the few Brazilian politicians who has not been charged with corruption.

The charge is that Dilma changed budget numbers before the last national elections to cover up Brazil’s failing economy. But most people say this was a mistake in administration and is not something that should cause impeachment.

So the opposition PMDB party came to power for the first time in more than 12 years. Since 2003, the party has lost four elections to the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT). In the latest election, in 2014, Rousseff was elected president for the second time.

Temer is very unpopular and he would have almost no chance of winning in a national election. In polls two weeks ago, only 11.3 per cent of Brazilians support Temer’s acting government.

‘If you remove someone from power who was chosen in a democratic election, that’s a coup,’ said Gabriela Campus, a sculptor in the occupation, ‘I support the return of Dilma ... I support her because I don’t support a coup.’

Not all occupiers and protesters in Brazil agree that Rousseff should come back to power. Many people do not trust the president and want new elections. But they all agree that they do not want Temer’s government.

In the last month, artists have had cultural events every day in the space they occupy. They are trying to bring Brazilians together to fight against the impeachment and tell people about the situation in Brazil. They have concerts, theatre, dance and lectures – and lively politics.

Sao Paulo is not the only place where artists and other citizens are angry. The movement began in Rio de Janeiro, and is now all over Brazil. Groups are occupying cultural ministry buildings in almost every state.

‘I came from the occupation in Rio de Janeiro, to learn and share experiences’ said Campus in Sao Paulo, ‘I can see that in all the occupations the message is the same: Temer must go.’

Temer has made many decisions that people do not agree with. His cabinet is nearly all white men, but 53 per cent of the population is black.

Also 15 of his new 26 ministers are facing criminal investigations, mainly for corruption. Three of those ministers have had to resign because of their connection to the Lava Javo corruption scandal (involving the state owned oil company Petrobras and probably most of Brazil’s Congress). Last week, they said Temer was involved in the scandal too, but he said this is not true.

Temer has quickly changed the PT government’s social progressive plans. He has made a lot of cuts – these will affect thousands of Brazilians. For example, he has cut social programs and government ministries that promoting equal rights for women, and supporting rural populations and minorities.

First he cut the Ministry of Women, the Ministry of Racial Equality, the Ministry of Human Rights, and the Ministry of Agrarian (farming) Development. Most of these ministries started after the violent 20 year dictatorship (1964-1984) in Brazil ended, to help democracy grow.

Temer cut these ministries in his first weeks in power. So many people are afraid that Temer’s government is taking Brazil back to the time of the dictatorship.

But even people who don’t relate this to the violent past, say they are not what Brazilian people voted for. Rousseff was elected in 2014, but she became less popular mainly because the Brazilian economy got worse. But the PT government in general, the progressive policies and the founder of PT Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are still popular. People think Lula will win the next national elections, if he is a candidate.

The election decided the country does not want Temer’s plans of cuts, said Paelornik.

The artists started their protest in Temer’s second week in power, after he closed the Ministry of Culture and join it with the Ministry of Education. He soon changed his mind and agreed to keep the ministry open after several famous Brazilian actors and musicians told the world about it.

But this made no difference to the artists. They continue to occupy government spaces, and say they do not agree with Temer’s leadership and policies. They are ready to stay for a long time.

‘I hope the government can see that people are not sleeping,’ said Joao Carlos, artist and occupier in Sao Paulo, ‘we are against everything that is a step backwards. We want Brazil to advance.’

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(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).