By Alice Nesselrode
Thousands of people in green, yellow and blue on the streets, holding banners that say ‘O Brazil é nao do PT’ (“Brazil is not of PT”) and shouting “Fora Dilma, fora PT” (“Out Dilma, Out PT”)- these images already went around the world almost two years ago in the protests before the FIFA world cup 2014, showing the dissatisfaction of the Brazilian people with the high corruption within their government and the governing ‘Partido dos Trabalhadores’ (PT; “Party of the Workers”).
However, when the time for elections came in 2014, the majority of people (around 52%) still voted for Dilma Rousseff in the second round of elections, even though it was a head-to-head race with the candidate of the Social Democracy Party Aecio Neves- hence, Dilma started her second term as president. Ever since then, there have been smaller up heating and up roarings all throughout the country, but none of them were as extensive as the ones going on right now: In the past weeks, more and more discussions have arisen over former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a very close friend and the former mentor of current president Dilma. Federal judge Sérgio Moro shed some light on his involvement with the Petrobras-scandal, money laundering and corruption, leading to Lula being framed and put on trial.
On Wednesday, president Dilma Rousseff openly claimed that Lula would return to politics and become minister as head of the cabinet, giving him more immunity and making it harder to persecute him. In the evening of the same day, a phone call between Dilma and Lula was leaked and published by judge Moro which revealed a very interesting conversation: Dilma apparently told Lula she would help him “whatever it takes”. When finally finishing the call, Lula said: “Tchau querida” (“bye darling”)- a phrase that polarized and was turned around now in the protests. Brazilian protestors use the “tchau querida” now together with the “Fora Dilma”- to signalize their president to give up her position and finally resign. The request to turn Lula into a minister has been blocked by the judge and is still pending.
Again, thousands of Brazilians took on the streets in the big cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and the capital Brasilia to demonstrate against corruption in the government after the content of the phone call was made public. However, the public opinion is split when it comes to the details. The majority of the people want Dilma gone and put an end to the rule of PT- yet, what comes after that? Ironically, what seems to be the main problem of Brazil was well described by Lula himself when he famously stated in 1998: “In Brazil, a poor man steals and goes to prison. Meanwhile, a rich man steals and becomes minister”.
Some Brazilians even opt for a return to the military government that was in charge in Brazil until 1985- a time epoch when the country was in chaos but led by strong leaders, by many described as a dictatorship. It is shocking to hear that people are eager to go back to such a regime system that goes against our understanding of democracy and equality, yet it very much depicts the inner quarrel of the Brazilian people and their actual helplessness. A political change is desperately needed, but who will take the position of Dilma?
This leads to another problem: Judge Moro, celebrated by many for framing Lula and Dilma, did not undertake any actions towards the political opposition of the TP- despite the suspicions against many other Brazilian politicians such as Aecio Neves for being involved in fraud and money laundering. In fact, there are barely any politicians that are not being suspected to have at least once been corrupted or have corrupted themselves. Also the ways Moro used to gather proper evidence for the framing of Lula are dubious: the phone call he published was a private one, he was not authorized in any way to have access to it.
The fall of Dilma after the protests currently going on in Brazil is very probable, but the question of what comes after that remains unanswered. The country might slide into a huge chaos without one main leader, but it might also be the beginning of something big, of a positive movement going through the whole of the land of Samba and Havaianas. Moreover, what a success of protests will change in the heads of each single Brazilian remains to be seen. Fact is that the country is facing a big change that will fundamentally alter its whole structure. What the Brazilians will do with this change still stands in the dark.