The tragedy that bleeds Brazil dry must end. The continuing COVID death toll, the tardy vaccination rollout, the return of hunger, record unemployment, the speed up in the extermination of black and poor people, the accelerated destruction of the environment, and the massacre of indigenous peoples are no longer tolerable. This must be brought to an end, immediately. We cannot wait until the elections of October 2022. To save lives, Bolsonaro must be overthrown as soon as possible. That is the fundamental and urgent task. Nothing is more important.
The left must concentrate its efforts on the campaign for ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out) and for the demands most felt by working people: food on the table, vaccine in the arm, and jobs for the wallet. This is the time to try out and test, with all due health precautions, a return to the streets; just like the black movement did on 13 May to condemn the Jacarezinho massacre, the police raid that saw at least 28 people shot dead in Rio de Janeiro’s blackest ‘favela’. Without a popular movement in the streets, the ability to push for Bolsonaro’s impeachment is considerably reduced. Therefore, the demonstrations that the united ‘Campanha Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out Campaign) is calling for 26 and 29 May must be actively built.
Unity in the struggle to bring down Bolsonaro must be the number one priority for the parties of the left, the social movement fronts, the trade union centers, and the black, feminist, LGBT, indigenous, and student movements. We must not underestimate the enemy. Although worn out and backed into a corner, Bolsonaro is again making threats, mobilizing his far-right social base and intensifying talk of a coup. The left cannot count on Bolsonaro to respect the rules of the game until 2022. The more he is weakened and hounded, the more radical he will become.
Therefore, the force of social mobilization from the left is fundamental to counteracting the threats of the neo-fascist far-right. We must put pressure on Congress, which now has in its hands the evidence gathered by the COVID parliamentary commission of inquiry (CPI) to immediately open impeachment proceedings against the genocidal president. In this respect, former President Lula, who now leads the opinion polls and has enormous popular influence, must put his political weight behind the campaign to take to the streets for ‘Fora Bolsonaro’.
Build a united left electoral alternative, with no alliances with the right
In addition to the ‘Frente de Esquerda’ (Left Front) for the struggles, it is important to prepare the battle for a political alternative to power, which is already placed on the order of the day. Although the elections are far away, there is already a broad debate in society about who is to succeed Bolsonaro.
As we know, the far-right already has its candidate. It wants to re-elect the genocidal captain. In the face of the polarization between Lula and Bolsonaro, the traditional parties of the right and the center are looking for a so-called “third way”. But these parties find themselves, at least for now, with a great deal of difficulty presenting a competitive candidate – João Doria, Ciro Gomes, Sergio Moro, Luciano Huck, and Luiz Mandetta are all performing badly in the polls. The strategy of the Workers’ Party (PT) majority leadership is to consolidate Lula’s electoral leadership, while at the same time forge broader alliances with sectors of the center and the right.
In this scenario, what position should the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) take? We consider that the main task of the party must be the struggle for the ‘Frente de Esquerda’ (Left Front) on the electoral terrain as well. That is, the construction of an alternative that involves all the parties of the left, the PT, PSOL, Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), Popular Unity (UP), and the United Socialist Workers’ Party (PSTU), as well as the social movements, the black movement, the feminist movement, the trade unions, the indigenous and environmental movement, and other popular sectors. This would be a united electoral alternative that represents and expresses the broad majority of the Brazilian people.
The unity of the left – in the struggles and the elections – is a necessity for confronting and defeating the neo-fascist danger that Bolsonaro represents. In this sense, we believe that it is a mistake to launch a PSOL presidential pre-candidacy at this moment, whoever that may be. This is because it will naturally be seen as a gesture that divides and weakens the left in the confrontation against Bolsonaro.
On the other hand, we believe that the urgent unity of the left that is needed should not extend to sectors of the right and the center of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, as the PT majority leadership and Lula want. It is necessary to learn from the lessons of the coup against Dilma Rousseff in 2016. Any attempt to reestablish alliances with ‘golpistas’ (coup supporters) is a mistake that could again prove costly, in both the short and the long term.
Most immediately, if such coalitions with parts of the right are concretized, they would almost certainly see any program downgraded to what is acceptable to the Brazilian ruling class. A left-wing program should, for example, include the repeal of the ‘Teto dos Gastos’ spending ceiling and the social security and labor reforms; the institution of a decent basic income to end poverty; the real appreciation of the minimum wage; significant increases in public investment in health, education, science, and technology; the demilitarization of the police; the taxation of grand fortunes and corporate profits; the implementation of a plan of public works to generate jobs; the institution of agrarian and urban reform to give land and houses to those in need; among other concrete points. Would these measures be accepted by a Lula candidacy with sectors of the right and big business? We do not believe so.
Further down the track, if there is an electoral success, these alliances with the old ‘golpistas’ run the risk of a new betrayal (remember that Michel Temer was Dilma Rousseff’s vice-president) and even the staging of a new coup. Such a scenario could play out, for example, if Lula in some measure went against the demands of the bourgeoisie in the context of a crisis. Therefore, in the name of facilitating electoral victory, alliances with the right will only compromise the program of the left, compel it to renounce progressive structural changes, and place governability in the hands of these treacherous, unreliable sectors.
That is why we are in favor of a united left candidacy, one without any alliances with ‘golpistas’, and with a program of structural transformations that reverse the legacy of the coup and answer the most heartfelt demands of the working people and the oppressed, starting with the guarantee of life, jobs, wages, and housing. In our opinion, the PSOL must engage in this battle: the unity of the left to overthrow Bolsonaro in the streets and the elections, and present an alternative to power for and with the working class and the poor.
This article is an English translation of “Por uma Frente de Esquerda para as lutas e as eleições”, Esquerda Online (EOL), 20/05/2021.
Translation: Bobby Sparks