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Sun Mar 27, 2016, 06:25 PM

‘This Is a Coup’: Brazil’s Workers Party Faces Its Greatest Test

‘This Is a Coup’: Brazil’s Workers Party Faces Its Greatest Test

Posted on Mar 24, 2016
By Sonali Kolhatkar



Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva holds a shirt with text that reads in Portuguese,
“Let’s unite Brazil, there won’t be a coup,” during a meeting with union leaders Wednesday.
[font size=1] (Andre Penner / AP) [/font]


Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest country in terms of population and Latin America’s most expansive state, is in political turmoil. The left-leaning Workers Party, PT (as it is known by its Portuguese acronym), is facing an existential crisis after 14 years in power. Accusations of corruption from opposition parties and the glare of a right-wing media empire could hand the reins of government to conservative forces. Mass street protests drawing tens of thousands of mostly white, upper-middle-class families with slick props and coordinated, simplistic messaging offer a convincing backdrop of popular political will for change. It is a familiar script in Latin America—one that has played out in Venezuela, Ecuador, Honduras and elsewhere. Will Brazil succumb to this new model of right-wing coups?

The PT swept into power on the wings of the once-beloved President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula—as he is still affectionately known—was succeeded by his onetime chief of staff, Dilma Rousseff. Both Lula and President Rousseff now face serious accusations stemming from their former affiliation with the Brazilian energy company Petrobras. Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings that have been brought against her by opposition officials with support from the judiciary.

Rousseff has remained defiant, saying, “I have committed no irregularity. I will never resign.” And thus far there has been no proof of wrongdoing on her part. Still, the calls for her resignation are relentless. There have also been no charges against Lula, despite a swirl of rumors and three hours of questioning during his recent detention by police that some characterized as a kidnapping. Lula has stated he will run for president again in 2018, which may be part of what the right fears.

Meleiza Figueroa, an American doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley and an occasional Truthdig contributor, is currently living in Brazil and conducting research in the Amazon. In a Skype interview from the municipality of Santarém in the state of Pará, she described what is unfolding in Brazil as “a naked power grab on the part of the right-wing elites.”

More:
http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/this_is_a_coup_brazils_workers_party_faces_its_greatest_test_20160324

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