Attempt to outlaw the Workers Party is latest attack on Brazil’s democracy

An attempt to ban the Workers Party/PT, the most successful political party of Brazil’s modern era, is the latest in a sequence of attacks on a democracy under siege.

By Nathalia Urban

On February 10th, Brazil’s Worker’s Party (PT) celebrated its 40th anniversary. The party brought visibility to the struggle of the Brazilian working class, and became a reference for the left in Latin America and in the world. Now, Lula and Dilma Rousseff’s party have to fight for their survival.

The PT administrations of Lula and Dilma governed Brazil with coalitions from 2003-2015, when a right-wing coup plot against re-elected Dilma Rousseff crippled the executive. The country’s first female President was eventually impeached on a flimsy technical pretext a year later.

In 2020, the Workers Party is the biggest party in Congress, with 55 seats, has 6 Senators, and is de facto leader of the opposition.

On March 27th, the deputy electoral Attorney General Renato Brill de Goés approved the admissibility of an move to cancel the registration of PT as political party. According de Goés “Lava-Jato demonstrates that the PT received funds from foreign sources”.

Goés statement was made in the context of an ongoing request at the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) under the supervision of Minister Og Fernandes. The lawsuit in question was filed in July 2019 and was authored by Congressman Heitor Rodrigo Pereira Freire, a member of the far right “liberal social party” PSL (the former party of Jair Bolsonaro, and now the second largest party in Congress). A month earlier the same Congressman went to the attorney general’s office requesting clarifications on the journalists from The Intercept. He requested the office to file a censorship request, in order to stop the Intercept’s “Vaza Jato” series of leaks, led by Rio de Janeiro based U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald.

Beginning in June 2019, Vaza Jato (Vaza=Leaks) exposed “anti-corruption” operation Lava Jato as having deliberately manipulated Dilma Rousseff’s 2016 impeachment, which ended in her removal from office, then working to jail Lula to prevent his re-election, and leaked damaging information about his replacement candidate Fernando Haddad. Thus, Lava Jato, led by his future Justice Minister Sérgio Moro, assisted Bolsonaro’s rise to power, and the latest leaks in the series show its illegal collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice to advance the interests of U.S. corporations in Brazil. Lava Jato has been accused of targeting the Workers Party since the very beginning.

Several leaders from social movements and other political parties have stood in solidarity with the Worker’s Party. Spokesman of the National Coordination of Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST), and Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) candidate for the presidency at the 2018 general election, Guilherme Boulos said: “It is scandalous the admission of the request for revocation of the PT’s registration by the deputy electoral attorney general. It is a grotesque attempt to intimidate all opposition to Bolsonaro and further weaken Brazilian democracy. How far do they want to go?”

Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) Congresswoman Jandira Feghali said: “The PT has been the target of relentless persecution by backward and anti-democratic forces. Removing their registration is absurd in a democracy. We in PCdoB know this attack well from our own history. My solidarity with our PT colleagues and militants. Strength!”.

Attacks on the PT and it’s members have become very common. During an election rally in 2018, Jair Bolsonaro told his supporters that they should be machine gunned.

Last Saturday, Worker’s Party president Gleisi Hoffmann published an official rebuke of the latest attempt to eradicate her party:

“It is outrageous and fanciful that the deputy attorney general, Renato Brill de Goes, is entitled to cancel the Workers Party registration with the Electoral Court.

There is no evidence that the PT has received funds from abroad, or if has ever happened. The decision is arbitrary and political, without basis in facts or in reality.

The pretext used by the Electoral MP is unreal. Once again, we have lawfare – the use of law and the legal system against the enemy – to pursue opponents of the regime and the current president.

In the history of the Republic, only during periods of arbitration, such as in the 1940s and 1960s, when dictatorships silenced the voice of opponents, did political parties have their registration revoked, like the Communist Party of Brazil.

The PT has 40 years of history in the defense of democracy and the Brazilian people, and a long tradition in the struggle for human rights in the country, against the abuse of political and economic power, and for a less unequal society.

The Public Ministry may want to silence the voice of the opposition, given the government’s wishes, as only this would justify the admission of a strange and illegal request such as this.

Gleisi Hoffmann, Workers Party.”