Writing in the New York Times in 2008, former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Bzrezinski stated:
Though U.S. leadership has been essential to global stability and development, the cumulative effects of national self indulgence, financial irresponsibility, an unnecessary war and ethical transgressions have discredited that leadership. Making matters worse is the global economic crisis.
The resulting challenge is compounded by issues such as climate, health and social inequality – issues that are becoming more contentious because they have surfaced in the context of what I call “the global political awakening”.
For the first time in history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive. Global activism is generating a surge in the quest for cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world scarred by memories of colonial or imperial domination.
The “global activism” referred to above is represented by the myriad, corporate NGOs that agitate for “human rights”, “environmentalism”, “action against hunger”, and so on. What Brzezinski’s article announced was a new era of US smart power where good causes would be harnessed by agencies working for the military industrial complex in order to assure the continuation and furtherance of US hegemony in the world. The result was a series of colour revolutions and humanitarian wars in North Africa and the Middle East and now the current ongoing destabilization of Brazil. In the same article, Brzezinski warns that “the only alternative to a constructive American role is global chaos”.
This is precisely what we are beginning to see throughout the world as countries refusing to submit to the New World Order are being destabilized with anarchistic and rhizomatic social movements, funded by imperialism.
We have already referred to Guido Mantega’s comments about a currency war between the United States and Brazil. No diplomatic official of any state has ever declared war on the US government since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1943. While Mantega accused the US of starting a currency war, it is highly probable that Wall Street would see Brazil’s determination to defend its interests as an attack on US imperialism.
Brazil has traditionally been referred to as a “America’s sleeping giant” due to the country’s enormous economic potential.The quotation, attributed to Japanese commander Isoroku Yamamoto after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour when he said, “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve”, is worth bearing in mind here. A few months after Mantega’s declaration of a currency war, anti-corruption protests began to erupt in many of Brazil’s cities.
One of the slogans used in the Brazil demonstrations was “Brazil has woken up”. In 2011 British beverage corporation Diageo made a commercial for Johnny Walker Whiskey in which a mountain erupts into a giant, inspiring the population to walk with him. The commercial was highly successful and bore the caption, “O Gigante nao esta adormecido” – the giant is no longer asleep, which became one of the slogans of the social protest movement that erupted in June 2013.
In April of 2013, Diageo made another commercial for Johnny Walker, with the caption “esta na hora na prossimo passo” – it’s time for the next step. Diageo has claimed that the use of its commercials by the protest movement in Brazil was a mere coincidence but this is unlikely, given the highly organized, professional and coordinated presence of other US “regime change” NGOs operating throughout Brazil.
Previous US backed “colour revolution” movements have made use of alcohol to incite violence and unrest. For example, the US backed putchists who attempted to foment a coup in Belarus in 2010, attacking the parliament with iron bars, were heavily under the influence of alcohol. During the Brazil protests, government buildings were attacked by protestors, such as the Itamaraty Palace, home of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a building designed by the great communist architect Oscar Neimayer, who had to flee Brazil in 1964, when a similar ‘revolution’ brought fascist generals to power.
The Brazilian government’s decision to defend its interests in a currency war with the United States was tantamount to a financial Pearl Harbor. The ‘sleeping giant’ that would erupt throughout Brazil could be described as US intelligence working through Brazil’s disgruntled petite-bourgeoisie and directed against the protectionist state.
“Come to the Street” says Fiat motor company
Another TV commercial, whose predictive programming is even more explicit than the Johnny Walker advertisement, came from Fiat motor company. The highly emotive Fiat commercial bore the caption “Vem pra Rua” and showed scenes of mass demonstrations with demonstrators stretching their hands in the air. The stretched hands image features as the logo of many US regime change organizations such as “The World Movement for Demoracy”. The Fiat commercial was ostensibly made to coincide with celebrations of the Confederations Cup; this is evident in the video. It therefore cannot be proved that the video was intended to encourage anti-government demonstrations. Nevertheless, the suspicion remains.
Fiat Uno, Strade, Siena and Palio are some of the most popular cars among Brazil’s new highly indebted petite-bourgeoisie, the very class that would take to the streets in June chanting in unison “vem pra rua!”- come to the streets!.
Fiat has been highly successful in Brazil over the years where it has broken production and sales records. But production declined sharply in 2012 leading the company into negotiations with the Metal Workers Union to lay off workers. The PT government has put pressure on companies not to lay off workers; this contrasts markedly with the behavior of the military regime, which ruled the country exclusively on behalf of multinational companies.
Fiat recently merged with General Motors in Brazil. Since last year, GM has faced pressure from President Dilma Rousseff to retain workers in exchange for tax breaks that helped lift sales in the world’s fourth-largest car market to a record high in 2012.
There is nothing multinational corporations hate more than collective bargaining. In spite of the fact that most unions in capitalist countries function more like guardsmen in wage-slavery concentration camps, the fact that international corporate executives have to deal with unions when ‘restructuring’ their companies according to the market forces is something most corporations would prefer to do away with as part of modernization and “change we can believe in”.
In 2011 Reuters reported that Fiom, the Italian metal workers union “accused the carmaker of reneging on investment pledges and turning back the clock on labour relations to the 19th century”.
Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne, lent his support to the EU-installed technocrat Mario Monti saying Italy had “a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace change”.
Now Brazilians will have an opportunity to embrace “change” too via “change Brazil”, where the federal state of Brazil will be weakened beyond repair, collective bargaining rights for workers abolished and the good old days of military dictatorship brought back if Marchionne and his ilk gets their way.
The Brazilian government has given tax breaks to multinational workers on condition that they maintain employment. The goal of the Workers Party was to bring Brazil up to welfare state levels of collective bargaining that existed in Europe in the post-World War Two era. Now that the welfare state in Europe is all but dead, there is no reason why corporations should have to put up with welfare states in the developing world. One can understand why companies like Fiat and General Motors would favour ‘regime change’ in Brazil.
Of course, these companies can always rely on plausible denial and claim as they have done that this was all a coincidence. But there are many reasons to doubt such statements when one considers how fascist coups were organized in the 1960s using similar techniques of predictive programming through cinema and the advertising industry, involving the coordinating of hundreds of corporations working in secret.
Most decisions in capitalist societies are taken by unelected officials behind the doors of board rooms and conference halls, far from the simple world of the petit-bourgeois consumer. The world which people like Soros promote is the very opposite of an open society. It involves the progressive enclosure of physical and mental spaces culminating in the reduction of human existence to the dancing digits of the stock exchange. It was ironic that protests said to be the result of a desire for better public transport used a slogan especially designed for the occasion by a private motor company.
In 2011, an NGO called Rio de Paz organized a spectacular protest against corruption on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, where hundreds of broom sticks were pitched in the sand. An article appeared in the Guardian newspaper referring to the nascent protest movement. An article on the movement also appeared on the website of Movements.org. Movements.org is sponsored by Pepsi, Google, and Omnicon Group, who are members of the Council on Foreign Relations. Its director is Jared Cohen, head of Google Ideas. He served as a State Department planning staff member under the Bush and Obama administrations.
Tony Cartulucci writes:
Founding Movements.org with Cohen is Jason Liebman of Howcast Media which works with mega-corporate conglomerates like Proctor & Gamble, Kodak, Staples, Ford, and government agencies such as the US State Department and the US Defense Department, to create “custom branded entertainment, innovative social media, and tardeted rich-media campaigns.” He was also with Google for 4 years where he worked to partner with Time Warner (CFR), News Corporation (FoxNews, CFR) Viacom, Warner Music, Sony Pictures, Reuters, the New York Times, and the Washington Post Company.
Roman Sunder is also credited with co-founding Movements.org. He founded Access 360 Media, a mass advertising company, and he also organized the PTTOW! Summit which brought together 35 top executives from companies like AT&T (CFR), Quicksilver, Activison, Facebook, HP, YouTube, Pepsi (CFR), and the US Government to discuss the future of the “youth industry.” He is also a board member of Gen Next, another non-profit organization focused on “affecting change for the next generation.
The “Youth industry” gave the world the “Arab Spring” in 2011. It was the left cover for a war of aggression against Libya and Syria and it is now being used by the US State Department in order to prepare the terrain for regime change in Brazil in 2014 or possibly earlier. It would be extremely naïve to believe that the US would simply accept that Brazil and Latin America were no longer going to be their playground. When Mr Change Obama, announced in his 2008 election campaign “we need to reclaim Latin America’’, he meant business; “Change Brazil” is the result of more than two years of planning.
The notion of a country suddenly “awakening” was also promoted during the US backed “Arab Spring” protests in 2011. This ignores the fact that people have been protesting throughout the Middle East and North Africa against US/Israeli imperialism for decades. Protests against capitalism are not new to Brazil either. The notion of awakening was adumbrated by the aforementioned former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in an interview given to The American Interest magazine in 2012. Referring to his time in office during the 1990s, Cardoso said:
Altogether the more open economy, foreign capital investment, and the busting of monopolies produced a new Brazil, an ‘awake’ Brazil.”
No doubt, Cardoso pleased the editors of the American Interest when he assured him that his party would not push for Brazil’s inclusion in the UN Security Council. The former Brazilian president noted:
We have to be more cautious about seeking a seat, however. It is a rather complex question. Now isn’t really the time to reform the council.
This is a clear indication that Cardoso and the clique he represents fully support the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine and will shift policy in favour of Washington if the riots in Brazil help the right-wing opposition to seize power after, or perhaps even before, the presidential elections in 2014.
The submissive attitude of Cardoso contrasts markedly with the fiery speech given by former Brazilian president Luis Inacia Lula da Silva to the African Union in 2011, when he insisted that Latin America and Africa should have permanent seats in the UN Security Council.
Citigroup and the CIA
The chairman of Diageo, the company that made the above mentioned commercial, is Franz Humer, who is also a board member of Citigroup, one of the world’s biggest banks. Past board members of Citigroup have included former CIA chief John M. Deutch. According to former Los Angeles Police Department field officer Michel Rupert, there has always been a revolving door between Wall Street banks and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Citigroup relies on Latin America for 21 percent of its assets. In April 2013, the firm decided to exit its hitherto lucrative credit card business in Brazil, which supplied credit cards to the lower middle class, who would make up the majority of the protestors in June. There have been rumours that a major credit card default crisis is looming in Brazil. Citigroup have complained that the Brazilian banking scene is a closed shop with the major Banks controlled by the state. However, Citigroup will continue to maintain a one percent presence in acquisitions and mergers and will provide credit to the country’s wealthy elite. State monopoly of Brazil’s banking sector has prevented Wall Street banks from taking over the country. Mexico’s more “open economy” allowed Citigroup to purchase its bigger bank in 2001.
If Citigroup had information that a regime change operation was underway in Brazil to end the ‘currency war’ and open up the economy to Wall Street penetration, this could explain the sell-off of its credit card business one month before the biggest protest movement Brazil has seen in 20 years, a movement which has caused a state of emergency and could bring down the Rousseff government.
Foreign firms are facing more competition from local rivals as they try to hold on to their share of the investment-banking market in Brazil, where an emerging middle class is propelling one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.
It is this rising national bourgeoisie that forms the basis of the Workers Party support, in contrast to the comprador bourgeoisie represented by the likes of former Brazilian central banker Arminio Fraga, a Soros agent, whose private equity and hedge fund Gavea Investimentos Ltda is owned by JP Morgan Chase.
William Landers, Portfolio Manager of Blackrock’s Latin American Investment Trust, PLC told Bloomberg in June that the protests in Brazil were “what we’re looking for”. Black Rock was formed in 1988 by Larry Fink and Robert Kapito, who pioneered the mortgage-backed securities scam that led to the global financial crisis. Blackrock represents the quintessence of casino capitalism and a corporate funded ‘people’s movement’ against the Brazilian state which is very pro-market regulation and is precisely what they want. Landers also praised Dilma Rousseff for supporting the protests.
Colour Revolution tactics
One of the tried and tested methods of the CIA-funded Centre for Non Violent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), an organization which trains youth all over the world to overthrow governments hostile to US interests, involves the wooing of the security forces such as through the distribution of flowers. CANVAS Director Srdjan Popovic told the makers of the documentary The Revolution Business how this psychology works when he confirmed that the ‘spontaneous’ uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011 were the result of extensive planning by numerous NGOs.
The Real News Network published a report where they showed protestors handing out flowers to police during the Brazil protests. Other videos showed police sitting down with the protestors. This is classic regime change psychology and indicates the presence of activists linked to CANVAS operating on the ground.
The Revolution Business documentary also showed how the organizers of the protests staged events in order to escalate tension and violence against the Mubarak regime. One of the most famous of such incidents involved the attack on protestors by thugs riding camels through Tahrir Square.
A similar event occurred in Rio de Janeiro when a car deliberately raced into a group of protestors, reportedly killing one of them. This report resembles the camel chase psyops in Egypt.
Although there does seem to be evidence of atrocious police brutality in Brazil, some of the examples dramatized by the corporate media and the fake leftist media are highly reminiscent of the Arab Spring and the 2009 attempted ‘Green Revolution’ in Iran. For example, the Real News Network reported that “a couple of videos have circulated on the internet showing a few police officers leaving their weapons and taking the side of protestors”.
This notion of the security forces “refusing to kill their own people” is a classic feature of destabilization tactics used by imperialism in the early stages of a regime change operation. In Libya and in Syria, most of these false stories were fabricated by faceless cyber activists collaborating with Western intelligence agencies. There is also the possibility that agents provocateurs and snipers in the Brazilian military police in the service of the CIA, may be attempting to escalate the violence in order to create conditions for a military coup.
During the 1964 coup that ousted left-leaning Jauo Goulart, US assets in the Brazilian military played a central role in the destabilization of the country. At the outset of the protests in Brazil, the commandant of the Sao Paulo Military Police Benedito Roberto Meira praised the protests.
A Brazilian communist wrote an excellent analysis of events on the social media website Reddit:
Now, you’re probably asking, “how can you suggest that the current protests are fascist? You’re out of your mind!”. Well you are reading this and you are probably not in Brazil, watching how giddy the media is with the whole thing. You are probably not aware that the agenda against “corruption” was suggested by the military chief of police when negotiating with MPL You are also probably not aware that the large majority of the opposition to the Worker’s Party does not come from the radical left, as I wish it did, as MPL does, but it comes from PSDB and half of their electors are nostalgic of our fascist dictatorship. So they are going out there and asking for a new one.
The sign says “military intervention now. For the democratic government of civilians and military” which is, I’m sure, how he remembers the 1964-1986 period to be.
As I write this, thousands of right wing militants are BURNING RED FLAGS in Paulista Avenue and demanding the impeachment of Brazilian president Dilma Roussef. These militants are those who think that democracy only exists when married to neoliberalism, so in her place they want to install PSDB or the Brazilian equivalent of Pedro Carmona.”
Facebook and social media play a key role in colour revolutions. The uprising in Brazil is now being referred to as the Vinegar Uprising or the Vinegar Revolution. The Centre for Non-Violent Actions and Strategies advocates humour and silliness as effective techniques for making authorities look stupid when trying to keep public order in the face of growing protest movement. Colour revolutions usually have famous trigger events.
In Brazil, one of the trigger events involved the arrest of a journalist who came to protest with vinegar to protect himself from tear gas. Before long, Facebook pages were opened up proclaiming the Vinegar Revolution.
Another feature of colour revolution strategy is to create distrust of politics among the people. Thus, the slogans tend to be de-politized. One sees, for example, slogans such as “we are neither left nor right” or “we want ethic bank” or “no political parties”. The inculcation of anti-political sentiment works best among sections of the population who have little or no history of political activism. Such people are passive, consume slogans and narratives and are easily manipulated into tuning into the mantra of the nascent group mind, whose essence is ultimately mindlessness. Colour revolutions are about corporate power using the masses to destroy politics. They are social revolts that pre-empt revolution. Instead of waking up the masses, the agencies of colour revolutions put them in a trance.
“We don’t want foreign doctors! PT- go to Cuba, go to Venezuela!”
As the protests spread throughout Brazil, the Brazilian and international corporate press suddenly became champions of “public services” and “health care”. Many protestors held banners denouncing plans by the Brazilian government to import foreign doctors in order to cope with major staff shortages in the health care system.
Cuba is widely considered to have one of the best health care systems in the world and the country sends doctors all over the world. The Brazilian government has plans to employ 6000 doctors to work in Brazil’s poor regions. Brazil’s foreign minister Antonio Patriota has admitted Cuba’s superiority in medicine and pharmaceutical research telling reporters:
Cuba is highly proficient in the areas of medicine, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology and Brazil is considering receiving Cubans doctors in talks that involve PAHO.
Malaria is still a major cause of death in Brazil, a disease that has been eradicated in Cuba.
Cuba also has the best education system in Latin America and arguably one of the best systems in the entire Western Hemisphere. In 2001 international experts were so shocked by the high level of education when they conducted research in the country that they sent the research team back to verify and make sure the results were correct.
Cooperation in science and education between Cuba and Brazil has increased since Dilma Rousseff was elected president. There are many Cuban academics teaching courses in Brazilian universities and Cuban expertise has been solicited in order to increase Brazil’s proficiency in mathematics and science.
Brazil has also invested in Cuba, developing the Muriel port outside Havana, set to become the hub of a new free-trade zone with the rest of Latin America.
This is a development which Brazil’s reactionary oligarchs and their American allies want to stop.
The employment of Cuban doctors and academics in Brazil is an admission by the Brazilian government that neoliberal capitalism cannot solve the problems of society. It proves the superiority of socialist societies. The presence of Cuban doctors and academics in Brazil is a tremendous opportunity for the left to show the people that popular democracy based in the Cuban model is the only way to end poverty and create an open, inclusive and free society. Cuba can show Brazilians that they too could have a country where no children sleep on the street, where social violence is minimal and where culture, education and human development is prioritized over the greed of the few.
“We want better public services- run by private companies”
In a revealing essay, “Why Brazil is an Emerging Market Economy”, Sean Williams argues:
Some economists argue that the negative effects of inequality are compounded in countries where the people with the money are also the people with the political power. The argument assumes that wealthy politicians are more likely to underfund basic public services (education, housing, public transportation, etc.) that they themselves do not use or need, to lower their own tax burden. These economists suggest that if instead they provided those basic public services, more citizens would be able to participate effectively in the national economy, which would increase growth and widen the tax base, opening the possibility of lowering the tax burden on the wealthy. In other words, all sectors of society would share the benefit of equal economic participation.
While this may sound progressive, what the author is arguing for here is privatization of public services, which as he contends, would result in “lowering the tax burden on the wealthy”.
The privatization of all public services is part of the Washington Consensus and is currently being implemented in developed countries through austerity programmes; that is why the US regime change organizations operating in Brazil are focusing on‘public services’ such as education, health, and transport.
While these sectors of the economy are by no means perfect, tremendous progress has been made since 2003 in improving health, education and transport. OECD statistics show, for example, that the percentage of GDP spent on education under the PT government has increased significantly. Public spending on education increased from 10.5 % of total public expenditure in 2000 to 14.5% in 2009, which was the highest increase among 33 countries surveyed by the OECD study. Brazil ranks first among 29 countries surveyed for its increase in expenditure per student. There has been a major focus on primary and secondary education where expenditure rose from 149% from 2005 – 2009. While serious investment is needed in tertiary education, Brazil has seen the highest increase in education spending of all countries surveyed by the OECD.
In contrast to the United States, Brazilian health care, transportation and education are publicly funded and the Brazilian constitution bars foreign investors from investing in health and aviation.
However, right wing mayor of Sao Paulo Gerardo Alkmin, whose PSDB party are supporting the protest movement, has been one of the most notorious advocates of privatization of the health and transport system.
Alkmin has been pushing for the privatization of the Sao Paulo metro system, which in spite of all the press brouhaha about the state of public services in Brazil, is considered to be one of the best and cleanest metro systems in the world, according to ISO9001 quality management standards published by the International Management for Standardization.
Many commentators also ignored the improvements in transport in Brazil’s favelas such as the cable cars provided by the state for Alemao Favela in Rio, projects which have greatly improved the lives of Brazil’s poor.
The recent protests triggered by management of the transport system are not new. On the Global Voices website there is an article about a protest that was organized in Sao Paulo in upper class Higienopolis district over a controversy which erupted when locals objected to a new metro station claiming it would lead to an influx of delinquents into the area.
An event called “Churascao da Gente Differenciada” was organized by Facebook activists on May 14, 2011 to protest against “elitism”. The event was attended by right-wing former major of Sao Paulo and former presidential candidate Jose Serra. “Citizen” reporters published videos of the event online.
The Global Voices website is funded by Reuters, MacCarthur, UNFPA and Berkman. The Berkman Centre for Internet and Society is a Harvard based research centre, which collaborates with the US Department of State in “democracy” promotion throughout the world. Its activities include training for “internet reporters” and “civil engagement”. Anyone who knows anything about the history of US training and support for death squads, torture and genocide throughout Latin America will know what US State Department funded “civil engagement” means.
The focus and orientation of the recent protests has been to exaggerate the problems with public services in Brazil, when, in fact, public services have improved, albeit slightly, under the PT government.
As if predicting the transport hike protests the Economist magazine published a report in March 31st 2013 entitled “Sao Paulo’s Metro, Not Yet Fit for A Metropolis”, where it suggested that “private investment” was needed to improve the service, while ignoring the fact that the state run service in a developing country is, as aforementioned, considered to be world class. The Economist article also referred to the Barbecue Protests.
Gerardo Alcmin has also advocated the wholesale privatization of airports in Brazil. Since the economic boom, Brazil’s aviation industry has increased steadily every year averaging at over 9 percent and is expected to treble in the next 20 years. The aviation industry in Brazil is state owned and this has irked foreign investors who want to profit from one of Latin America’s major growth industries. Investment U magazine says the aviation industry should be privatized and that the state-run Infraero is ‘dominated by public sector unions and ‘focuses more on jobs than results’; ‘results’ here in investor language means ‘profits’.
The Economist notes:
In the 1990s a centrist government offloaded energy, telecoms and mining firms. But its left-wing successors stopped privatizations.
Although Guarulhos, Sao Paulo’s main international airport, was partly privatized in Feb 2012, the Economist magazine remarks:
Sceptics have wondered if the price was so high because the government was dealing with itself. The consortium that won Guarulhos was led by the pension funds of Petrobras, a giant oil company, and Banco do Brasil, the country’s biggest bank. Both firms are state-controlled. And BNDES, the state development bank, will finance the deal.
No Investment in Favelas?
Another example of the demand for public institutions provided by private companies comes from a CNN report on the July 11th protests. The CNN report quotes a resident, Souza, from Paraisopolis favela in Sao Paolo who says:
The only ones who do something for us are the businesses. We don’t have hospitals. The only place where we can take our children is the Einstein, a community program that is privately financed. When I ask for a visit, they give me an appointment in three months or more.
Only private business can provide public services; the message is clear. The Albert Einstein Jewish hospital funds a “social assistance” programme in the area. Many of the residents in Paraisopolis come from the agricultural regions of Northern Brazil, where the government is attempting to construct a hydroelectric dam that would transform the economy of the region, enabling many of the residents in Paraisopolis to return to their homelands. The Belo Monte dam is opposed by the US government.
The US Institute for International Development, a front organization for the CIA according to former agency officer John Stockwell, has been working in the Paraisopolis area since 2006 promoting “sustainable” electricity. It may also have had a hand in promoting “sustainable” anti-government protests!
Paraisopolis is not a particularly good example of the incompetence of the Brazilian government. There has been a major drive since 2002 to create new social housing and infrastructure in the area. The Venezuelan firm Caracas Urban Think Tank, a specialist in the development of slum towns, was recently invited by the municipal government to design social housing, schools and parks in the area.
Caracas Urban Think Tank has been constructing successful social infrastructure projects in Venezuela and the Brazilian government hopes to make Paraisopolis a showcase of experimental sites.
Citiscope magazine recently published a report entitled “No Excuses Slum Upgrading – In fast-urbanizing planet, Sao Paulo develops model toolkit to improve housing for poor, dispossessed”. Investigative journalists Fernando Serpone Bueno and Veridiana Saleh reported that urban development in the Sao Paulo slum has improved “light years” since the US backed military dictatorship in the 1980s. The Lula administration established the Municipal Housing Council. Since then, the Paraisopolis favela has seen major improvements in the provision of clean water and public amenities. The Municipal Housing Council is elected by the local people and has an input into how government money is spent. Elliot Sclar, Director of Columbia University’s Sustainable Urban Development, has described the Paraisopolis development as an “exemplar”.
While there is still an enormous amount of work to be done in improving the lives of Brazil’s poor, the representation offered by the corporate press in order to prop up their regime-change protests is far from the social reality.
There has been a lot of moralization by the corporate press about a country with high inequalities holding the World Cup. This ignores the fact that huge investments by the Brazilian government as well as major job creation are being boosted by preparations for the games. In fact, Brazilian minister for Sport and communist party leader Aldo Rebelo promised soccer fans that World Cup tickets would be the cheapest in history and reconstruction of sports facilities is not being undertaken with federal money.
Instead of cheering on protests organized by imperialism, leftists should be questioning their purpose and orientation. Just because naïve, lower middle class youth are holding up banners calling for “better public services” and cheaper transport does not mean they are fighting against capitalism and globalization. Their capitalist training centres and financial backers believe that privately run public services are better and this is what the people of Brazil will get if imperialism succeeds in “regime change” next year, and if the left doesn’t abandon its silly dogma that the “masses make history” and devise strategies to counteract imperialism’s new “people powered” anti-politics.
Curitiba – The solution to Brazil’s ‘public services’ problem
The city of Curitiba in Parana state in Brazil is considered by many to be one of the best planned and most sustainable cities in the world. American geographers, urban designers, architects and policy researchers consider Curitiba’s privately run Integrated Bus Transit System to be one of the most efficient in the world and a model for 21st century urban transport provision.
However, Clara Irazabal shows in her book City Making And Urban Governance in the Americas: Curitiba and Portland, that the city’s much vaunted image of progress masks a far from positive reality of poverty, social exclusion and technocratic tyranny. While the bus system does have some merits, cost-cutting has led to poor training for personnel, overcrowding and poor quality service. There is little motivation to improve services as public transport is only used by the poor and, as they have no means of exerting pressure on the super-rich, faceless technocrats who rule the city according to their financial interests.
The city’s former mayor and “star-architect” Jaime Lerner has been interviewed by Brazil’s corporate press since the protests in order to solicit his expertise in solving the country’s “public services” problems.
Lerner was a member of the right-wing ARENA party during the fascist dictatorship. He sits on the board of the World Resources Institute, which is funded by Citigroup, and is an associate of Bill Clinton.
As mayor of Curitiba he oversaw a privatization programme that reduced large swathes of the population to poverty, with workers losing all of the rights they gained in the 1943 Work Codification Law.
When Lerner ran Curitiba, Irazabal writes:
The planning process produced favoured elites and –perhaps unintentionally- institutionalized or, worse yet, promoted inequality. Finally, there is the perverse possibility that aggressive and well-tailored media campaigns effectively coerced lower-income classes to suppress their own class-based social practices of appreciation and appropriation of space. Moreover, such campaigns may have led people to assimilate patterns of spatial appreciation and appropriation characteristic of other social classes.
Most of the population was completely excluded from the city’s planning process. The city’s poor were regulated to the periphery and due to the rising prices of real estate found themselves forced to move farther outside the cities where they set up shantytowns that had no water or sanitation.
Curitiba is run by a closely knit business oligarchy obsessed with increasing their own power and wealth while regulating the lives of the citizens they control.
Citizen participation was and still is conceived by the leaders as the level of identification with and appropriation of the urban landscape by its inhabitants. In accordance with this notion, citizens are perceived and treated solely as consumers of urban goods, and the city is increasingly treated and portrayed as a commodity.
Western scholars portray Curitba as having Brazil’s highest standard of living. However, official statistics in Brazil show that it only ranks 12th overall!
Irazabel’s book also reveals how previous mayors have attempted to disguise the city’s shanty towns for international ecology conferences; how they have used alcohol for tourists buses in order to create the impression that the city uses “clean energy” and how aggressive media propaganda which promotes Curitiba as an “ecological” city has brainwashed many of its own citizens into believing that the naked emperor wears golden robes.
Multinational corporations have a free hand in Curitiba. For example, Renault decided it wanted to set up its plant in an environmentally protected area which was supposed to supply the city with water. The corrupt authorities allowed Renault to take over the most ecological part of the city which was renamed ‘Ecological Industrial Zone’. Henceforth, water would have to be found elsewhere.
Irazabal shows how leaders of social movements combating the oligarchy has been bought off and how the Shantytown poor have been brainwashed into thinking that the flashy buildings they see in the distance actually represent their city, even though many of them have never been in the wealthy city centre.
Social problems such as lack of affordable housing, deficient education and health services, and increases in crime, violence, homelessness, and unemployment have burgeoned in a neglected suburban environment, and have become critical signs of a rapidly deteriorating urban environment…groups of the popular movements that remain organized, in particular around issues of housing, education and health, are also opposed to these trends. These groups, however, been either dispersed or not large, mature, resilient, and/or politically savvy enough to effectively contest these processes.
The privatization of everything and the enslavement of the poor; this is what the Western power elite mean when they talks about “smart cities”.
The Deceptive nature of Fascism
Given the increasing risk of a return of fascism to Brazil through the CIA-backed destabilization campaign through the “anti-corruption” movement, it is important to examine some aspects of this extreme right wing ideology.
During the 1930s, fascism arose as a response to the real “awakening” of the working class who were organizing themselves in unions and demanding their rights. The success of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry in the Soviet Union, which was industrializing apace; the militancy of the working class movement led by highly organized and united communist parties; and the fact that the capitalist system had collapsed since the Wall Street crash of 1928, all of these factors meant that the only way for finance capitalism to prevent social revolution was to create counter-movements that would appeal to the masses by appropriating left wing discourse and redirecting it in favour of corporate interests. The result was fascism. Fascism is the attempt by the ruling class to mobilise the petite-bourgeoise and the working class to the cause of the ruling class by deceiving them.
It is an attempt to prevent social revolution by diverting the hatred of the workers for their capitalist bosses towards hatred of scapegoats. To do this, it appropriates left-wing discourse and symbology, infusing it with new meaning. Thus, in Nazi Germany, capitalism became “revolutionary” in the form of “national socialism”, where the Jew and not the capitalist became the enemy of the people, while the hammer and sickle of the communists was replaced by the Swastika, which was inspired by the tyrannical regime of the Lamas in Tibet, whose brutal feudal theocracy the Nazis admired.
In Italy, Spain and other countries, similar tactics were used to prevent social revolution. Fascism had to call itself “socialism” as capitalism was not an ideology which the ruling class could market effectively in the 1930s, given the fact that people were going hungry all over Europe and America. Everyone wanted some form of socialism, so the bosses came up with a form of socialism that would strengthen capitalism.
The tactics of the “colour revolutions” follow a similar pattern, except nowadays the international situation has changed. In the absence of scientific socialist ideology, it is much easier to manipulate the public into believing that a “spontaneous” and “popular” uprising is taking place. This is because the “colour revolutions”, like their fascist forefathers in the 1930s, use left wing rhetoric in order to mobilize naïve and misinformed youth to overthrow governments which the Western corporate elite considers to be an obstacle to their expansionist plans. Many of the governments targeted by imperialism have been loyal collaborators with the imperialists in the past. Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt are examples. Yet, imperialism often overthrows its puppets when they have outgrown their use or have disagreements with their masters. For example, Mubarak opposed the 2003 war on Iraq and refused to send troops to occupy that country. So, Mubarak was out and the fascist Muslim Brotherhood was in. That is how it works and the sooner genuine peace activists, anti-imperialists, communists and progressive learn the modalities of imperialist dialectics, the less chance these strategies have of enslaving humanity in a global corporate dystopia.
The comprador bourgeoisie in Brazil who enriched themselves by serving Wall Street interests during the military dictatorship and the neo-liberal regime of Cardoso, are using social engineering technologies to mobilize the people against “corruption”. Here again, the aim is divert frustration with capitalism into frustration with politicians. This lets the corporate executives, bankers, plutocrats and financiers off the hook and puts all the blame on elected officials who are controlled by the captains of finance capitalism.
The point of the Brazil protests is to push for reforms that would deprive the Brazilian congress of executive powers. The protestors are therefore focusing their anger on the congress and, in particular, the left-wing of the Workers Party. Bourgeois ideology has always tried to associate socialist ideology with “corruption”. Read any “policy paper” by respectable Western economists on the post-Soviet Space and you will find that the more socialist the policy of the government the more that government is described as “corrupt”. For capitalists, serving the public interest over the market is the essence of corruption. But there is a further twist to the Brazil protests. Here, it is precisely left-sounding causes, that is to say, cause of public interest that are advocated, such as schools, hospitals, health care, etc. But these are just empty slogans chanted by clueless, apolitical youth; they are a façade to mask the true fascist intentions of the organizers.
In a revealing article from the “Beyond Brics” blog in the Financial Times, the newspaper of the Anglo-Saxon elite, there is a “wish list”. The article calls for president Rousseff to come up with a long term vision for the economy based on “orthodox economics”; in other words, the Washington Consensus. People with international experience in business, especially in the private sector, should be included in her cabinet, says FT. The cabinet should be reduced from 40 to 15 and court cases should be speeded up.
Perhaps the Financial Times has people like Soros agent Aminio Fraga Neto in mind when it refers to people with experience in the private sector. The article concludes that none of these demands will be met because the Brazilian regime is simply too corrupt and incompetent. The wish list published by the Financial Times corresponds to the strategy of the global financial elite, which is to weaken the institutions of the nation state, so that multinational corporations do not need to worry about the rule of law when they want to rob and pillage the country’s resources in accordance with the exigencies of “orthodox economics”.
This is the plan of the rootless cosmopolitans, the heartless, and ruthless comprador bourgeoisie represented by the right wing opposition parties, who unlike current finance minister Guido Mantega, will not criticize US and EU fiscal policies and demand more influence over the IMF, while imposing capital controls and protective tariffs on US imports, who, unlike the current foreign minister, will not make statements opposing intervention by Western powers against Syria, while demanding that Brazil be included in the UN Security Council.
The regime Washington wants to see installed will behave like the model countries of Latin America; countries like Colombia where union organisers, teachers and intellectuals who dare open their mouths against the government are shot dead. You won’t see too many Avaaz activists in Bogota as long as that US colony is compliant with “orthodox economics” and is fulfilling its annual quota of paramilitary murders in the service of “good governance”.
The conflict playing itself out now in Brazil is between the progressive national bourgeoisie who want to see Brazil thrive, while maintaining their class interests and domination of the working class and the comprador bourgeoisie, who are using the petite-bourgeoisie to destroy Brazil as a functioning nation state, smash the BRICS multi-polar world order initiative, thereby fulfilling what President Obama promised to do before he was elected when he proclaimed, “we have to reclaim Latin America”. Mr. Change’s minions have come to Brazil.