Dilma Rousseff Upsets Peasant Organizations
The most traditional core of supporters of the Worker’s Party (PT) has shown its dissatisfaction and opposition to Dilma Rousseff’s latest round of austerity.
The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MST) has illegally occupied a particular farm to demand housing.
Taking over private property is a common practice in Brazil, where even the government joins farmers and landless people to get them into some land.
The occupation is aimed at achieving a long list of goals. But this time is a little different. There is one more item that has been added to the list of demands.
The crisis, and austerity undertaken by the Government, which includes cutting spending in basic social programs has prompted traditionally supportive peasant groups to firmly protest against Dilma Rousseff and her party, the PT and to resent the prospect of not receiving a house, a promise they have been waiting for over 10 years.
Most of the people who are now occupying someone else’s private property aim to restore their chances to be considered as candidates for a new home through the program “Minha Casa Minha Vida“, a government plan that will suffer cuts under the latest austerity measures. So they know it will not be easy to find a house and stop living in a poor rental neighborhood near the camp where they go every day to eat.
Protesters also know that when their unemployment check is no longer paid by the government, they may have to go all live in the camp.
Here is very hot if the sun shines; and it becomes a dirty torrent of mud if it rains. In Brazil it is not unusual to have both rain and sunny days on the same day.
There are those who abjure the ruling party on the grounds that its leaders have betrayed them. Last week, members of MST invaded the headquarters of the Ministry of Finance to protest the cuts.
The leader of the MST, Guilherme Boulos, no longer hides his criticism of a government and a party that, according to him, has always had the social progress of Brazil in mind and has fought against inequality. “We are here to occupy this ministry simply because it is implementing cuts affecting housing programs,” said Boulos.
From the other side, experts point out that to calm markets and to halt the dangerous escalation of the dollar, the president needs to follow the rigid rules of the Minister of Economy, the neoliberal Joaquim Levy, in terms of cost containment.
Meanwhile, the crisis has taken to the street affecting everything. The free fall of the real against the dollar has become palpable and measurable in an economy that continues to fall uncontrollably. The Real has devalued 100% in the last 2 years against the dollar and the Euro. Meanwhile, the cost of basic staple foods has risen by almost 100% in the last 6 years. Inflation is also starting to take a toll on the working class and the people living below the poverty line. In Brazil people are nervous due to the economic uncertainty.
The bread is more expensive today than anytime before because despite the availability of land to cultivate basic crops, wheat is imported from Argentina. In some supermarkets in São Paulo, queues of applicants with resumes in hand await outside supermarkets to apply for a job. This scenario was unthinkable just a few months ago. According to official figures, unemployment has grown in one year from 5% to 7.6%, and the government does not seem to have any effective policies to stop it.
The Rousseff administration has also proven itself incapable of gaining trust from the population. After having significant results in the investigations related to corruption schemes at Petrobras, now the Rousseff government has decided to appoint a Worker’s Party insider to conduct the last phase of the investigations. This move is seen by the public as an attempt to eliminate any chance to continue investigating in a transparent manner and to capture the intellectual actors of one of the largest frauds committed against the Brazilian people.
Dilma also managed to upset Brazilians who, through the media, learned of her statements at the United Nations General Assembly. Among many controversial comments, Dilma said that Brazil was a nation of refugees, and that the country was prepared to take in people from the Middle East and Northern Africa.