Bolsonaro’s Porn Tweet & Brexit, Colltalers
Tomorrow, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces another crucial Parliamentary vote on Brexit, the country’s planned exist from the European Union. Chances are, though, she’ll lose again, no deal will be reached, and Britons will enter a bleak two-year limbo.
Thursday it’ll be a year since the still unsolved murder of Rio councilwoman Marielle Franco. She’s likely the most distinguished among the staggering four thousand-plus women killed in Brazil in 2018. But President Bolsonaro is not too concerned about that.
The week starts grim in the aftermath of another fatal crash of a 747 Max 8 Boeing, this time in Ethiopia, and the second downing of such plane in the last six months. And it’ll probably have at least one new scandal involving the U.S. president, just as he files yet another multi-billion request to Congress to build his racist wall. Meanwhile, no resolution is expected to Venezuela’s crisis.
Bolsonaro, whose three-month presidency has been plagued by scandals and charges of corruption and nepotism, has become the first Brazilian president who not just dislikes Carnival, his country’s biggest party and arguably the biggest in the world, but also who tweets a pornographic video – supposedly to show his disgust about the LGBT community. It’s obviously backfired big time.
It’s not unusual for a right wing populist to become a national joke. Some simply can’t take it, unleashing their wrath on the backs of their already oppressed people. But the sense of incompetence surrounding Bolsonaro’s conduction of Brazil’s affairs so far, has all but paralyzed him, and he showed no hint that he understands his blunder (now blamed on one of his sons). Not unusual either.
What has caused anxiety to both his constituency and political allies alike, though, is that he’s been incapable
of securing support in Congress for his exclusionary policies – an extremely unfair social security reform, for instance – even from the very segments of society whose help made conditions for his election to high office possible. Thus conspiracy theories now abound about his future.
When Estação Primeira da Mangueira, one of Rio’s oldest samba schools, won this year’s Carnival, it was with a theme recounting Brazil’s violent history from its victims’ perspective: the poor, the dispossessed, sexual and racial minorities, championed by Mariella, as she’s known. The fusillade of bullets that murdered her, while neglected by Bolsonaro & co., has triggered a national movement.
It’s centered on the opposition to his proposed pension reform, even as he’s yet to present it for voting. Early reports show that it seeks to raise retirement age, from 60 for men and 55 for women, to both at 65, and how benefits would be calculated. In the government assessment, the reform would reduce retiree incomes to 500 reais to 750 reais a month, from the current 998 reais.
Critics pointed to the unbalance of wreaking havoc on working people’s retirement income, while leaving untouched that of the armed forces, politicians, and members of the judiciary, all of which have just granted themselves generous raises and benefits.
Perhaps the biggest defection of Bolsonaro’s support came from the powerful Brazilian media, chiefly, the Globo organization. They were instrumental drumming up a constitutional crisis in 2014, so to justify deposing president Dilma Rousseff halfway through her second term, and the villainization of two-term ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula, who is serving a lengthy jail sentence.
The president’s supported in Congress by the so-called bullets, beef and bible caucus, big landowners, former and current members of security and law enforcement forces, and wealthy Evangelical clergy, fully engaged in vetting a conservative agenda for Brazil.
Mangueira’s win, and demand for a transparent investigation into the murder of Marielle – believed to be committed by right wing militias, operating with impunity in Rio – plus opposition to the government’s plan to sell, privatize, or liquidate major state assets, may lead to a national mobilization. It also may cause a side effect no one’d like: a dramatic slowdown of the Brazilian economy.
Above all, there’s been an unreported genocide in the streets of Brazil, and it’s victimizing women, the LGBT people, and the poor, green warriors, and activists for indigenous communities. While that’s not new in Brazil, it had been a while since the government was so averse to their plight, and in some cases, openly hostile to their demands. No wonder, Brazilians are so despondent lately.
Compared to that, the U.K.’s imbroglio caused by the 2016 referendum that voted for its exit from the E.U., may sound mild but it’s no less disruptive, and seemingly coming from a similar place (where Trump election may also be associated to): a nationalistic urge to put on breaks onto social liberalism, while contending to cater to an alienated base, that remains ignored and manipulated.
The formula is now a franchise-like wave being sold by its architects (who naturally jumped out of ship as soon as disaster loomed and who have been mostly duplicates of white supremacist Stephen Bannon) to global authoritarian regimes. It’s become a major obstacle to any efforts for reversing climate change, fight income inequality, and rescuing ailing democracies throughout the world.
P.M. May’s expected defeat will cause the issue to fester into a continuous stream of bad news to the British economy, in the near future, as it boosts the same anti-immigrant sentiments and false claims that it costs too much for England to remain in the union, used by Boris Johnson and his minions, when it served their purposes. As it’s been said, they’re gone now but their mess still stinks.
But there are other, more optimistic, reasons to mark March 14: it’s Albert Einstein’s 140th birthday, and also Pi Day (set after its English numerals, 3.14). The father of the general theory of relativity, a spirited humanist and fierce advocate of human rights, once called nationalism ‘an infantile disease,’ ‘the measles of mankind.’ Given what’s above, his words haven’t lost their truth value.
A last shout out to brave Chelsea Manning, arrested again for refusing to answer questions related to WikiLeaks’s 2010 disclosures, for which she was convicted in 2013 and spent seven years in jail. The U.S. Army, rather than probing George W. Bush’s possible war crimes, exposed by her revelations, went after her, instead. We, the American people, should say, enough. Free Chelsea Now! WC