The other day, in a conversation with a friend (who happens to be an avid reader of this blog), I was asked why I don’t write more about events in Brazil, especially the most recent coup. I explained that, while I have been following events there pretty closely, I simply didn’t have the time to do what I considered the appropriate amount of research to offer an analysis that offered something different from what I’ve been reading.
I did, however, suggest to them that, given the class nature of the coup, the first thing the new government would do would be to set about undoing the legacy of the Workers Party.
Well, as Jonathan Watts reports, that’s exactly what’s happening:
It is just a week since Michel Temer became interim president of Brazil, but his new centre-right administration already has begun scaling back many of the social policies put in place by Workers’ party governments over the previous 13 years.
Moves are under way to soften the definition of slavery, roll back the demarcation of indigenous land, trim housebuilding programs and sell off state assets in airports, utilities and the post office. Newly appointed ministers also are talking of cutting healthcare spending and reducing the cost of the bolsa familia poverty relief system. Four thousand government jobs have been cut. The culture ministry has been subsumed into education.
For the interim government and its supporters, these austerity measures represent sound fiscal management as they attempt to rein in the government’s budget deficit and restore market confidence in Brazil, which has seen its sovereign debt rating downgraded to junk status over the past year.
For critics, however, they represent a shift toward a neoliberal economic policy by the old elite that ousted elected president Dilma Rousseff, who is suspended pending her impeachment trial in the senate.
That, in the end, is what the coup was about: not eliminating corruption (which is how it’s been covered here in the United States) but changing the class content of the policies of the Brazilian government.