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Movements Refuse to Give Up Despite Parliamentary Coup against Democracy in Brazil

Photo courtesy of MST.

#Articles & Analysis#Human Rights Defense
September 2016


We join our partners in Brazil in denouncing the recent vote to oust democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff from Brazil. The parliamentary procedures, led by known corrupt politicians, amount to a coup d’etat designed to install conservative policies and right-wing leaders that had repeatedly been turned away by Brazilian voters.

Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of Grassroots International, expresses all our concern: “With the vote to remove Dilma from office, democracy in Brazil suffered an enormous blow. Now the right-wing forces in that country are implementing policies that the Brazilian people have rejected time and again, and opening the floodgates for massive land grabs,foreign investments and unfettered inequality. Social movements will be more important now and into the future, and Grassroots International will stand with them in solidarity, calling for democracy and justice.”

In the statement below, members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) voice their outrage at the coup, as well as their determination to continue to organize for democracy and justice in Brazil.  The MST and other movements face tremendous pressure to hold on to gains made by decades of struggle, as Parliament now seeks to overturn restrictions on land grabs, terminate agrarian reform and cut spending on important social programs.

You can read the statement Democracy is Dead in Brazil from our partner Maria Luisa Mendonça, co-director of Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Network for Social Justice and Human Rights, another amazing Grassroots’ partner in Brazil).

Below is a statement from the MST outlining their concerns and commitments going forward.


After the violation of the Brazilian Constitution consolidated by 61 senators on this day, August 31, 2016, the Landless Workers Movement hereby expresses its rejection of the parliamentary-media-judiciary coup installed in Brazil.

The farce that supported this process was unmasked in the trial itself, dismantled by the defense and the fragility of the indictment, and confirmed by the restraint in removing the political rights of President Dilma Rousseff. Without any crimes that could provide the basis for a complaint against the President, the economic elite and Brazilian politics seriously hurt the democratic process and put at risk the legitimacy of the vote of the people.

Consistent with the history of the defense of democracy, we refuse to recognize the government of Michel Temer. We are convinced that the impeachment is not the last act of violation of the Brazilian people’s rights promoted by economic and political elites of Brazil. So we denounce:

  • The attempt to hand over the Brazilian pre-salt oil, removing the exclusive rights for Petrobras to explore for oil.
  • The attempt to diminish labor rights, pension rights and scrapping of the Unified Health System.
  • The attempt to privatize the assets of the Brazilian people and the commodification of our land, water and minerals for foreigners.
  • The complete stoppage of agrarian reform, coupled with setbacks in all social areas such as education and the dismantling of the My House, My Life program.

The solution to the political, economic and social crisis we are experiencing is the unconditional defense of democracy. We believe that fundamental changes in the Brazilian political system are needed and we support the convening of an Exclusive Constituent Assembly to change the political system. We must ensure the inclusion of people in decision-making processes of the country, to ensure popular participation in issues of national interest, such as structural reforms that have historically been prevented by the ruling class.

We announce that our mobilization does not end with the coup installed. We will continue fighting, organizing the people of the countryside and building unity with urban struggles. The restoration of Brazilian democracy and the changes needed to build a more just and sovereign country will be our guide for the next period.

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