Earlier this week, millions of Brazilians took to the streets to protest some of the largest corruption scandals in the history of the country. They are demonstrating against what has come to be widely known as the Left’s “Project of Power” throughout Latin America.
Brazil is an increasingly divided country, where new minorities claim to be entitled to reparations owed to them by “white people,” and workers owe mandatory contributions to over 15,000 syndicates and unions. It all started in the early 1990s, when many of Latin America’s socialist political leaders, now in top government positions, met to discuss the future of socialism in the continent after the fall of the Soviet Union. In what came to be known as the Sao Paulo Forum, the pillars of the current socialist Latin America were erected.
In the following years, social unrest took place in many countries, but it was only in the early 2000s when the projects of power actually started becoming enacted. First, countries like Bolivia and Venezuela would see populist socialist presidents take office with promises of “social justice” and “fairness.” But such plans would not be complete without the economic powerhouse in the continent: Brazil. And so, in 2002, Luíz Inácio Lula da Silva (known simply as “Lula”), one of the organizers of the Sao Paulo Forum would take office in our country. As the years passed, and behind a “helping the poor and underprivileged” rhetoric, the country entered a spiral of social rivalry and finger-pointing against the “blue-eyed rich people” who positioned themselves against all of the social programs that government was trying to implement in the country, all fueled by inflamed speeches from the president “of the masses”.
Initially, all of Brazil believed that what was happening was a good thing and that the country and its citizens would be better off with all of this. After all, the economy was thriving (mainly because of the rise in the worldwide prices of commodities).
The first indication that socialism and democracy don’t actually go hand in hand was in 2006 when the first scandal came to light. It was discovered that the Workers’ Party leaders and top officials had been bribing the legislative members into voting with them in matters of the party’s interest. After much investigation, Lula, the socialist president, was actually forgiven by voters, and managed to be reelected for a second term that same year.
Four years went by and, amidst the financial crisis of 2009 and the relatively low impact it had in our country, Lula, after having been able to “grant” us the right to host the FIFA World Cup & Summer Olympics; almost literally finding huge oil fields with Petrobras and claiming we would finally be self-sufficient in oil; being the president in office when Brazil finally received its investment grade from credit rating companies; and with an 84% approval rate, managed to elect, without much hardship, his successor, Dilma Rousseff, the “mother” of the huge infrastructure program Brazil was undergoing, and which to this day hasn’t seen more than 30% finished.
And so it was time for Brazil to take a harder turn to the Left the Workers’ Party had always believed it should. Believing a more government-centered economy was what was needed for the growth of the country, Rousseff’s mandate, following what had already been started by Lula, strengthened its “national champions” policy, where it would handpick companies it would sponsor, at very friendly government-backed loans. Also, a wide government-backed credit program was started with the help of our public banks. And, the most important one, Petrobras should start coming through on their promise to make us self-sufficient in oil…which it never did!
3 years went by and the economy started showing signs of weakening. Very few of the “national champion” companies actually proved fruitful and inflation seemed ready to come back.
And then there was the Petrobras scandal, where it was discovered that the government-run company would demand a payment of 3% of the value of any contract the company would be a part of, and by law, the company would be a part of virtually every single oil related project that would take place in Brazil, and we’re talking about a country that had started exploring oil reserves that could make it a member of OPEC. As investigations arose, much was discovered about the relations between government officials and big construction companies, those used in the infrastructure projects and Petrobras’. Even more has been discovered about the actual intents behind such huge sums of embezzled money: providing a means to keep the Workers’ Party in office for, at least, another decade.
So here we are. A country that, 3 years ago, believed it would be among the top 4 economies in the world by 2025, falling to 9th place. Inflation is in double digits and we are enduring a two-year long recession, never before seen in this country. As for Petrobras, it’s in ruins, having to sell its assets worldwide to keep afloat and facing multiple lawsuits by investors all over the world.
Meanwhile, the over 15,000 syndicates and unions paid for by us, but used as militias by the government, threaten to start a civil war if we even suggest to rightfully impeach the president for electoral crimes that took place in 2014 and dozens of progressive minority groups readily pretend some crime has been committed against them, in an attempt to lure the not-yet-bought-by-government media, whenever a new corruption scandal comes to light. All with the support from Sao Paulo Forum leaders of neighboring countries who can’t stand the idea of socialism losing in Brazil.
What’s more terrifying is that all of this happened under our noses. Only now do we see how much power had been given to Leftist groups used to bully us if we dare disagree with their idea of a democracy. So, basically, that’s what we’re taking to the streets for: to stand against the idea of a country where you’re not an equal unless you agree with the ruling party and, most of all, an extremely corrupt political project of power designed to turn Latin America into the next Soviet Union.
* The author of this article has requested anonymity.