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Is the Brazilian Left Numb?

Written by Renato Libardi Bittencourt
Photographed by Fabio Teixeira
RIO DE JANEIRO, October 20th. Photos by Fabio Teixeira.

There was and still is a certain air of “promise” and “hope” here in Brazil that, after Lula's electoral victory, we would re-establish the “normality” of life in the fragile Liberal Democracy. What has been said around (see MST note on roadblocks) is that it would be enough to wait passively and orderly for the newly elected president to take office and let the extreme right agonize in what would be its last breath.

However, since the day the results of the polls were defined, the extreme right has taken to the streets in a clear attempt at a Coup and a demonstration of strength, thus showing that, far from being on its last breath, they are united, articulated, strong and cohesive. Since the 30th of October we have had: road closures throughout much of the national territory; requests for a military intervention in the streets and military headquarters (which continue until now and with no end in sight); buses invaded by Bolsonaristas who attacked students; the dean of a Federal university filing a document in support of the coup's lockout; support and connivance of the State security forces to the coup's and anti-democratic manifestations; manifestations of xenophobia and racism against North-easterners of the country; swastikas and arson at the MST (Landless Workers Movement) headquarters in Pernambuco; apart from the tantrums of "Deus Mercado" or the Market God. (See, for example, this article in Brasil de Fato.)

The curious (or tragic) thing about this whole absurdity is the absolute immobility of the majority, hegemonic and institutional left, which, faced with such absurdities, was incapable of reacting. No, this is not about calling for a civil war. We know that the Brazilian security forces and justice are not on our side (much less would be enough for a “bloodbath” against us by the police). But, since when do we need state support or a favorable situation to occupy what has historically always been ours, the streets? It is true that any type of demonstration carries its own risks and that the current situation inspires fear in many of us. However, that old saying by Marighella is still current: “I didn't have time to be afraid”.

RIO DE JANEIRO, October 30th. By Fabio Teixeira.

On the side of the revolutionary, autonomous and combative left, the story was quite different. On November 1st, the page “Antifa Hooligans Brasil” issued a statement calling on organized supporters to stop the coup attempt, unblock the roads and defend the limited democracy we still have left. On that same occasion, the MTST (Homeless Workers Movement) also issued a statement to its militancy to thwart the coup leaders and their financiers. Differently and in strategic disagreement with the MTST, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) issued a note calling on the left to remain calm, trust the institutions and await Lula's inauguration. Well, here we have an evident theor