Major U.S. Labor, Human Rights, Environmental and Women’s Organizations Denounce “legislative coup” against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

| 08.23.2016

The United States Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA), of which Food First is a member, signed the organizational letter supporting democracy in Brazil that is detailed in the post below.

As the Olympic Games come to a close in Rio de Janeiro, non-governmental organizations and unions in the United States are condemning the impeachment process against Brazil’s president. A public statement released today states: “We, the undersigned organizations, support democracy in Brazil and denounce the forced removal of Brazil’s elected president, Dilma Rousseff, as well as the criminalization and repression of Brazilian social movements.”

“The impeachment of Brazil’s legitimately elected president, Dilma Rousseff, is essentially a coup by a group of right-wing politicians who themselves are under investigation for massive corruption. It is intended to distract voters from the widespread corruption in the interim government and from the power grab by these politicians,” said Maria Luisa Mendonça, co-director of Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights) in Brazil.

“In July, the independent federal prosecutor’s office concluded that President Rousseff was not responsible for violating fiscal laws, which constitutes the main charge against her in the impeachment proceedings,” the statement reads. The message has been endorsed by 44 organizations, including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the United Steelworkers, Grassroots International, the Global Fund for Women, Amazon Watch, and the National Lawyers Guild, among other prominent labor unions, and human rights, environmental and women’s organizations.

The organizations express support for democracy in Brazil: “We join social movements and millions of people in Brazil and worldwide calling for a return to democracy and the rule of law in Brazil, the return of the legitimately elected President Rousseff to office, the reinstatement of Brazil’s critical social programs, and the recognition of human rights. We call on US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration to stand by the protection of the constitutional democracy of Brazil, to oppose the impeachment campaign launched against President Dilma Rousseff, and to refuse to recognize [Michel] Temer’s illegitimate government.”

A few weeks ago, 43 US Congress members expressed similar concerns in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging the Obama administration to oppose the impeachment. Senator Bernie Sanders also issued a statement, noting: “To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d’état.” He added: “The United States cannot sit silently while the democratic institutions of one of our most important allies are undermined.”

For more information contact:

Maria Luisa Mendonça, Berkeley, CA: (510) 283-8374, marialuisam222@gmail.com

Jovanna García Soto, Boston, MA: 617-524-1400, jgarciasoto@grassrootsonline.org

 

Maria Luisa Mendonça is co-director of Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights) in Brazil. She has a PhD in Philosophy and Social Sciences from the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and is a professor of International Relations at the University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ).

Jovanna García Soto is the program coordinator of Latin America at Grassroots International

The text of the statement and list of signers follows:

Statement of US Organizations Supporting Democracy in Brazil:

We, the undersigned organizations, support democracy in Brazil and denounce the forced removal of Brazil’s elected president, Dilma Rousseff, as well as the criminalization and repression of Brazilian social movements. The attack on Brazil’s legitimate government is an attack on low income communities in urban and rural areas, on all Brazilian workers, on racial minorities including Indigenous Peoples and Quilombola communities, on peasants, women, and youth. Brazil’s democracy is once again at grave risk.

In 1964, Brazil’s military staged a coup, imposing a 21-year dictatorship that suspended political, civil and human rights. Last May, Brazil’s Congress staged a legislative coup, forcing President Rousseff to step aside amidst trumped up charges of fiscal mismanagement. Congressional Deputies and Senators used sexist hate speech, invoked their religious beliefs, and even praised President Rousseff’s torturer (from her years in prison during the previous dictatorship) in their smear campaign.

Once in power, the interim “government” of Vice-President Michel Temer eliminated important social institutions. Within 24 hours, it abolished the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Human Rights and Racial Equality, the Ministry of Women, and the Ministry of Agricultural Development, among others.

Temer installed a cabinet entirely of white men, at least a third of whom face serious corruption charges. They quickly started dismantling Brazil’s popular and effective anti-poverty programs, and proposed new legislation to cut funding for education and health care, as well as for small farmers and environmental safeguards.

According to Brazilian social movements, acts of hatred and violence by the forces protecting corporations are increasing, along with threats to those defending democracy. For example, just 10 days before the impeachment vote in the Lower House of Congress, the State Military Police and private security guards from the lumber company Araupel attacked families from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) who were organized and living in the encampment Dom Tomás Baudino in Quedas do Iguaçu, Paraná. Two rural landless workers were murdered in the attack and at least six others were wounded.

The impeachment process against President Rousseff has been orchestrated by members of Brazil’s National Congress, where 60% of the 594 representatives face serious criminal charges, including graft, bribery, electoral fraud, illegal deforestation, and even kidnapping and murder. Leaked phone calls revealed that the attack on Rousseff was pursued to derail corruption investigations of members of Congress, several of which have since been suspended from office by Brazil’s judiciary.

In July, the independent Federal Prosecutor’s office concluded that President Rousseff was not responsible for violating fiscal laws, which constitutes the main charge against her in the impeachment proceedings.

President Rousseff’s removal is still temporary. Whether or not she is permanently removed will be decided by a vote of the Brazilian Senate in early August.

We join social movements and millions of people in Brazil and worldwide calling for a return to democracy and the rule of law in Brazil, the return of the legitimately-elected President Rousseff to office, the reinstatement of Brazil’s critical social programs, and the recognition of human rights. We call on US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration to stand by the protection of the constitutional democracy of Brazil, to oppose the impeachment campaign launched against President Dilma Rousseff, and to refuse to recognize Temer’s illegitimate government.

Signatures:

Grassroots International

AFL-CIO

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists

United Steelworkers (USW)

Global Fund for Women

American Federation of Teachers, AFT/AFL-CIO

Communications Workers of America

United Auto Workers

The Center for Democracy in the Americas

Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA)

Center for International Environmental Law

National Lawyers Guild

Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Alliance of Baptists

International Forum on Globalization

Amazon Watch

Climate Justice Alliance

Alliance for Global Justice

Global Exchange

US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA)

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

Friends of the Earth U.S.

Grassroots Global Justice

WhyHunger

Voices for Earth Justice

Food First

National Family Farm Coalition

Family Farm Defenders

Brazilian Expats for Democracy

Latin America & Caribbean Action Network (LACAN)

Fondasyon Mapou

Friends of the Congo

Sanctuary DMV

Border Agricultural Workers Project

Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)

Colombia Support Network

Task Force on the Americas

The Office of the Americas

Voices for Earth Justice

Brazilian Women’s Group

Altruvistas

Universidad de la República – CENUR LN – Departamento de Ciencias Sociales

Community to Community

RootsAction.org