The Brazilian people elected Lula president to change the course of the country. The elected program points to the restoration of social rights and programs, the preservation of the environment and the defense of the native peoples. But the parliamentary bloc led by Artur Lira is committed to doing the opposite of that. They approved the temporal landmark law aiming at the extermination of the original peoples and voted the fiscal framework to strangle public investments. And they openly intend to empty the ministries of the Environment and Indigenous Peoples to pass the herd to the ruralists.
The Lula government is facing a strategic impasse. With each concession given, Artur Lira asks twice as much. Centrão’s thirst is insatiable. They want more power and money, so much so that they are already demanding extensive ministerial reform and greater control of the budget. The group led by Lira acts to keep Bolsonaro’s program in force, despite its loss in the election. If Lula gives in to blackmail and signs an agreement with Lira, sealing a pact of conservative governance, the program of changes will be buried.
Another path is possible. There is a conservative and reactionary parliamentary majority, in addition to an expressive far-right bloc. If Lula’s governance depends on Centrão, it will not even be possible to rebuild what was destroyed by Temer and Bolsonaro, such as labor rights and environmental protection. In the face of the reactionary bloc that dominates Congress, only the strength of social mobilization and popular pressure can guarantee that the elected program is carried out.
But for the streets to come into play, a strategic shift from the left is necessary. The government has to adopt the line of popular mobilization and active political dispute with the masses. Lula needs to be a mobilizing president on the streets and on social media. Confrontation is an unavoidable necessity if the choice is not surrender. The heat of the streets, the fear provoked by the people in struggle, the power of popular protests. Only this can corner the Centrão, the dominant elites, and the far right, forcing them to retreat. In Colombia, President Gustavo Petro is betting on social mobilization and has so far reaped victories against the right wing that also dominates the Congress there.
Unfortunately, the strategy of carrying out a “cold government” has prevailed in the Brazilian government. Palace ministers, such as Alexandre Padilha and Rui Costa, seem to believe that Lula can re-edit the governance conditions of his previous terms. It turns out that a lot has changed since then, when the opposition was the PSDB [the traditional right-wing], there was strong economic growth, a majority in Congress was formed quite easily and the far right was almost non-existent. In the current circumstances, without active popular support in the streets around an agenda of social changes, the danger of government failure is high. And we know that fascism is on the prowl.
At this moment, the fight in the streets against the temporal landmark law must be a priority for the left and social movements. If the genocide bill passes the Senate, Lula needs to veto it by decree. The president should dismiss PSD, MDB and União Brasil ministers, parties that, despite controlling nine ministries, voted heavily in favor of the temporal landmark law and other agendas against the government, such as the “Fake News law” and the provisional decree for Sanitation. That is to say, they hold several ministries given by Lula, but in Congress, they follow Artur Lira.
Centrão wants to hold Lula hostage, undermining the program that elected him. Lira’s mission is to sabotage the government, paving the way for the far right’s return to power. Granting more concessions, giving him and his right-wing bloc more power, could be a fatal mistake. It is time to build a counter-offensive, adopting a different governance strategy. With popular struggle, it is possible to overcome backwardness. PSOL advocates for this path.