Questions following coup in Brazil [Part III:The protest and the photo]

by Farooque Chowdhury

Frontier | 25 July, 2016

The Guardian from the UK reported while narrating anti-Dilma protest: “In Rio, the crowd was predominantly white, middle class and predisposed to supporting the opposition. Several of the more prominent figures who spoke from sound trucks had rightwing backgrounds.

“Among them was Marcelo Itagiba, the city’s former state security secretary and ex-federal police superintendent, who has been investigated for ties with militias and was one of the inspirations for the gritty film Elite Squad 2.” (“More than a million Brazilians protest against ‘horror’ government”, March 14, 2016)

The street protests demanding Dilma’s removal, which, in Glenn Greenwald’s words, “Brazil’s dominant media endlessly glorified […] as an organic citizen movement”, have a different story: “[E]vidence recently emerged that protests groups were covertly funded by opposition parties.” (“As corruption engulfs Brazil’s ‘interim’ president, mask has fallen off protest movement”, June 16 2016)

“[F]rom the start,” adds Greenwald,
“there were all sorts of reasons to doubt this storyline and to see that these protesters were (for the most part) not opposed to corruption, but simply devoted to removing from power the center-left party that won four straight national elections. As international media outlets reported, data showed that the protesters were not representative of Brazilian society but rather were disproportionately white and rich: In other words, the same people who have long hated and voted against PT.

“PT itself has indeed been rife with corruption. But the protests were largely composed of the same factions who have long opposed PT.

“That’s why a photo – of a wealthy, white family at an anti-Dilma protest trailed by their black weekend nanny decked in the all-white uniform many rich Brazilians make their domestic servants wear – went viral: because it captured what these protests were. And while these protests rightly denounced the corruption scandals inside PT – and there are many – they largely ignored the right-wing politicians drowning in far worse corruption scandals than Dilma.

“It used corruption as the pretext for the anti-democratic end it sought to achieve. Whatever else is true, any process that results in the empowerment of people like Michel Temer, Romero Juca, and Aecio Neves had many goals; anti-corruption was never one of them.” (ibid.)

A Rio de Janeiro datelined report by Canada’s The Globe and Mail said: A protest picture “became the picture, the one everyone was talking about – a sort of Rorschach test for the country.” (“The photo that’s become the emblem of Brazil’s political turmoil”, Monday, March 14, 2016; it’s the photo Greenwald has mentioned)

The report said:
On Sunday, among the people demanding impeachment or resignation of Dilma were:

“Claudio Pracownik and Carolina Maia Pracownik, a white couple who live on a leafy street in Ipanema. They brought with them their little white dog, on a colour co-ordinated leash, and their two toddler daughters, who rode in a stroller pushed by a black maid wearing the all-white uniform that some wealthy Brazilians prefer their domestic employees to wear.

“Joao Valadares, a photographer with the newspaper Correio Braziliense, snapped their picture on the street in Copacabana, and before the protest was even over, it had been shared thousands of times – millions, by nightfall, here in this country that has the second-largest number of daily Facebook users.

“Some Brazilians looked at the picture and saw a patriotic family, fed up with a seemingly unending series of revelations about politicians and kickbacks, on their way to make their voices heard – accompanied by a woman who has ‘an honest job’, as a great many commentators put it, at a time when millions of Brazilians are unemployed.

“Others saw the poster-couple for elite Brazil. ‘I look at this photo and I see primarily the repetition of a scene going back to the time of slavery,’ Deborah Thome, a Rio writer and political scientist, wrote on her Facebook page Sunday night. ‘I am disgusted by the sight of a nanny dressed in a slave-maid’s clothes.’

“The half-dozen large anti-corruption demonstrations in the past year have been dominated by white and upper-middle-class protesters, who tend to be supporters of the opposition Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), and to have little love for Ms. Rousseff’s left-leaning Workers’ Party [….]

“The research institute Datafolha said that 77 per cent of participants at the demonstration in Sao Paulo, which was the largest in the country, were university graduates, versus the overall rate of 28 per cent in the city. Half of participants said they earned ‘between five and 20 times minimum wage,’ versus 23 per cent of people in the overall population who earn in this range; 77 per cent self-identify as white although the last census showed just 45 per cent of Brazilians are white.

“Brazilians, who are deft and fast with memes, reposted the picture with a thousand snarky captions, such as ‘Speed it up, there, Maria [the generic ‘maid name’], we have to get out to protest against this government that made us pay you minimum wage.’”

The background of the soft coup is complete: corruption ridden “gentlemen’s” external connection and patronization by the class-brothers; all of them – external and domestic wealth-interests – hate the commoners, and the hatred comes from self-interest, which leads the wealthy to have their own agenda.

Farooque Chowdhury, a Dhaka-based freelancer, has authored/edited only three books in English: Micro Credit, Myth Manufactured(ed.), The Age of Crisis, and What Next? The Great Financial Crisis (ed.), and doesn’t operate any blog like “Farooque Chowdhury’s Blog”.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s