Brazil looks unrecognisable to me. The country I see reported on international media does not seem to represent the one I came from. Having grown up in an environment full of possibilities, it is difficult to now assimilate my country’s unemployment rate which has reached double digits. I saw all of my friends go to university, but few of them can now find a good job. The promising feeling faded away and it has been replaced by anger and a desperate desire for change.
The golden age of Brazil I grew up in was a result of years of a maturing democracy combined with a rather favourable international market and an implementation of the right social policies. Lula, potentially our most notable politician, brought Brazil to a turning point – and pushed it into an upwards pathway. He conquered international visibility, developed business confidence and created favourable conditions for millions of Brazilians – conditions that afforded them a better life. He built this nest of optimism which I remember as “home”.
Therefore, when Lula had finished his two mandates in 2010, it was not difficult for his successor, fellow Worker’s Party politician, Dilma Rousseff, to step in as president.
The hope was that she could galvanise his performance and success and push the country further forward. But, unfortunately, Rousseff did not enjoy the same prosperity. During these last few Brazil had to cope with several problems; problems whose control surpassed the remit of any president. The falling price of commodities, the rather icky aftermath of the global crisis, and rise of tropical diseases are but a few examples to be named. The sum of those conditions brought the country debt to new and scary heights and substantially raised unemployment, two factors that started a chain of side effects that dragged Brazil’s economy to the ground. The popularity of Rousseff of course suffered.
Nevertheless, one particular achievement of Rousseff stands out, one that we mustn’t forget, one that was undoubtedly her greatest achievement as a politician. A federal operation known as Lava-Jato (also known as operation car-wash) was the biggest corruption investigation we as Brazilians had ever witnessed, and it took place during her mandate. Lava-Jato exposed years and even decades of endemic corruption across the country. The reputation of several parties has been seriously affected, but one specifically suffered irreparable damage: The Worker’s Party, home of Lula and Rousseff. Its image has been completely sullied. The Worker’s Party is the biggest left-wing party in Latin America; their hold of power in the sphere of Brazilian for over twelve years was obviously an unpalatable facts for many a wealthy traditional – and influential – name in Brazil.
The ‘Lava-Jato’ scandal exposed the ludicrous breadth and depth of corruption in the Brazilian political atmosphere. Politicians seem to have made no distinction between left or right when it came to enlarging their own pockets. Never before in Brazil have we seen so much corruption so openly exposed, and, needless to say, such exposure received the irk of some powerful groups – those who were afraid that their own illegal schemes would eventually be made public.
Brazilian media is another one of our corrupt organs – most of the means are owned by the same family, creating a monopoly of partisan and diluted information. Combine that with the fact that we have a population understandably angry and eager to blame someone for such life conditions and it will understandable why it is that we have a country fettered to a state of general alienation. Headlines and paper covers became laden with faces of left politicians – and them only, portraying an image which was, in reality, only a smidgen of a very multifaceted and obviously complex picture. Dilma Rousseff herself, however, remained free of any accusations. She was never dabbled in any bribery schemes. Her name was clean.
People need to understand that Brazilian politicians have an atrocious habit of allying themselves with powerful political figures in order to conquer more votes – a manoeuvre essential to guarantee survival in the dangerous Brazilian world that is its congress, one comprised of nothing less than twenty-seven vying parties. Very little is seen of ideological and party loyalty, and such lack of consistency turned those who once formed the allied base of Rousseff into her political enemies. Her low popularity and the downfall of the party’s power left her isolated and weak. She faced heavy opposition in the congress to get her proposals implemented. Most of her campaign promises eventually became nothing more than good intentions.
Call it a coup or not, the truth is that what has been done to Rousseff is outrageous and it places Brazilian politics at the far bottom of an ethic scale. Amanda Taub from the New York Times suggested that we could describe Rousseff’s impeachment “sinister”. It is hard to disagree with her. There was not enough proof to take eschew her out of office. So claims that the president should be impeached developed into something grey, unclear and suspicious. Sure, e all agree that Brazil was fairing atrociously under Rousseff’s term; but was it fair to dismiss her claiming she performed acts when she actually did not? And if a coup sounds too much of a conspiracy for some, the very least we can affirm is that the entire process is an absurd show of hypocrisy. And if being innocent of the claims of manipulating the budget did not suffice to impede Rousseff’s impeachment from going forward, the only plausible and morally acceptable alternative would be to put many others in the same defendant chair on which she was seated a few days ago.
The side-effects of this battle are predominately felt by the typical Brazilian, those still having to cope with the same difficulties day in day out, those who believe in upstanding, Brazilian principles. As Brazilians, we find ourselves trapped in a cage with only two exits, the two sides of extremism. These two sides of extremism are: 1) a society characterised by a lack of dialogue and open-mindedness that leads us nowhere, and 2) a society characterised by its stymied intellectual and social development.