Ordinary people are fighting back against the rise of the far right in Brazil. Sandra Silva is a Brazilian socialist in Sao Paulo.
She worked on the campaign of Erica Malunguinho, a member of the radical left Psol (Socialism and Liberty) party.
Malunguinho is the first trans woman to be elected to the state congress in Sao Paulo just over a month ago. “People are getting attacked on the streets,” said Sandra.
“A friend of mine was attacked as he left a samba protest against Bolsonaro this week. Indigenous people’s homes are being burned down.
“It looks like the military are going to be taking political decisions alongside religious leaders.”
Sandra added, “Bolsonaro says corruption will vanish, but it will not. It will get worse. He is inviting people who have been in jail for corruption into office alongside him.
“At first people were sad, disappointed and frustrated. Now people feel like they need to come out and resist. We had a rehearsal of what can be done during the election campaign.”
Sandra described how, as the Bolsonaro victory became increasingly likely, more people came out on the streets.
Protests can increase the pressure on Bolsonaro—his parliamentary position is unstable.
And spreading the protests to the powerful Brazilian working class can make the pressure unbearable for him.
“A lot of people who were on the protests were not for Bolsonaro’s adversary,” Sandra said, referring to Workers Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad.
“They were just against Bolsonaro. A lot of people came out to express themselves politically for the first time. They began popular education in the streets, debating why not to vote for Bolsonaro.”
Bolsonaro’s meteoric rise in the polls was largely unforeseen, but not unpredictable.
And his stabbing during the election process allowed him to present himself as a martyr, and he made rapid gains. That caught many people by surprise.
Both the bosses’ parties and the PT were left trailing in his wake, having badly misread the situation.
“The PT has historically a lot of connection with working people,” said Sandra.
“Once they took office institutional politics took all the energy of the party and they stopped talking to people in the fields and the factories.”
She argued that keeping a movement independent of parliamentary politics was “one of the things we failed to do during the years of the PT”.
“Now we need a massive political campaign against Bolsonaro, and it needs to be outside of institutional politics,” she said.
According to Sandra, some Bolsonaro voters are beginning to realise what his election means.
“They don’t agree with most of his ideas. Now they can see that he was not exaggerating during the election campaign—he is following through with what he said he would do,” she said.
“His voters were fooled by fake news, in particular an illegal Whatsapp campaign.”
She also pointed the finger at the PT leadership for losing touch with the people that in the past delivered them electoral victory.
Now, says Sandra, people fighting back in Brazil need solidarity.
“It’s important we spread the word about what is happening,” she said, emphasising that people are not just taking the Bolsonaro presidency lying down.
“What works here is people on the streets.
“We are planning international coordinated action in the near future.”