This article is an English translation of “29M: multidão foi às ruas contra o vírus Bolsonaro”, Esquerda Online (EOL), 29/05/2021.
Versión en español: Brasil-29M: multitud salió a las calles contra el virus Bolsonaro
Translation: Bobby Sparks
From north to south, in over two hundred cities, tens of thousands of people took to the streets amid the pandemic to oppose the worst of viruses, the most dangerous variant in the world, the Bolsonaro strain. On behalf of the over 450,000 people who have died from COVID, the demonstrators, wearing masks and maintaining social distance, protested for life, and demanded vaccine in the arm, food on the plate, and ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out) above all.
The demonstrations took place in almost every capital city and many medium-sized and smaller cities as well. They were the largest street protests to take place in Brazil since the Education Tsunami of May 2019, which took place well before the pandemic. The demonstrations included many young faces, as well as older women and men who have already received both doses of the vaccine. There were public and private sector workers, as well as students and retirees. Frontline professionals such as nurses, doctors, and transport workers, as well as artists, teachers, and blue-collar workers, were also present. There were many young black people and big participation from women. They were all united in their diversity against the common enemy of the people and of life itself.
In the context of a pandemic with high levels of infection and deaths, the ideal would be that nobody takes to the streets to protest. But we do not live in a normal situation. We are in a country presided over by a genocidal president, who has sabotaged vaccine purchases and continues to act deliberately – through his denialism and boycotting of social distancing measures – to maximize COVID infection. The country is on the verge of a third wave of COVID. Thousands of Brazilians, especially black and poor workers, residents of the ‘periferias’, the sprawling poor suburbs on city outskirts, continue to die every day in overcrowded hospitals or at home, where the pot is empty and at which the police bullet continues to point.
Despite all of this, Bolsonaro remains in power. He is still in power despite all the crimes that have been committed, the evidence of which is being exposed by the Senate’s parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI). He is still in power because the Brazilian bourgeoisie and its political representatives do not want to remove Bolsonaro from the presidency. The tens of thousands of people who courageously risked taking to the streets on Saturday represent the majority of Brazilian people, who are demanding the impeachment of this genocidal president. The country cannot live with Bolsonaro until the end of 2022. We cannot wait until the elections of October next year. We must stop the massacre of the people and the destruction of the country, immediately. That was the message that came from the streets today.
29M (29 May) was not a day of mass protest with demonstrations in the millions or hundreds of thousands. But given the critical state of the pandemic, many people did take to the streets. This shows that there is a growing willingness to fight. The rejection and repudiation of Bolsonaro, already the majority sentiment within society, found an echo on 29M. It became the most talked about topic on social networks across the country and around the world. The success of these demonstrations points to a growing process of mobilization within Brazil. All sectors of the left and the social movements that committed to building 29M deserve congratulations. But the presence of Lula da Silva was missing from the demonstration in São Paulo.
In this scenario, the ‘Frente de Esquerda’ (Left Front) for both the struggles and the elections is needed now more than ever. The ‘Campanha Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out Campaign) has seen the coming together of left parties, such as the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL), the Workers’ Party (PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Popular Unity (UP), the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) and the United Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU); the People without Fear Front (Frente Povo Sem Medo, FPSM) and the Popular Brazil Front (Frente Brasil Popular, FBP) social movement fronts; the Black Coalition for Rights (CND); the trade unions; collectives of precarious and peripheral workers; organized supporters’ clubs; as well as the feminist, LGBT, student, homeless and indigenous movements. It is the unity that has been built around the ‘Campanha Fora Bolsonaro’ that needs to be strengthened and reinforced.
The lives lost to the genocidal policy of Bolsonaro, all of them, were not in vain. For the memory of all those who have left us, and those who are still in the crosshairs of the virus, hunger, and the bullet, we are here to take part in the overthrow of Bolsonaro and to pave the way for the future.