Brasil & Latin America have a friend in Jeremy Corbyn

The activist group Democracy for Brasil UK met with the Latin community and the leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday April 30th (eve of the May 1 Workers Day celebrations) at the Momentum Latino launch in London. It denounced the attempted Coup taking place in Brazil through a speech and meeting at a passionate event aimed at engaging the Latin Community with various social movements in the UK.

Mr Corbyn, considered the UK’s equivalent of Bernie Sanders, has a personal and activist history in Latin America, citing Salvador Allende, the Chilean president who was deposed (and allegedly murdered) during Chile’s 1973 CIA backed Coup d’etat as a personal hero. Some in South America have even likened him to a British Pepe Mujica, former president or Uruguay.

Corbyn is the father of three children with a Chilean refugee from the 1973 Coup, and his current partner is from Mexico. He once said he would love to live in Bolivia should he ever settle outside the UK.

He also confided to activists from Democracy for Brasil UK that he joined a student demonstration in São Paulo in 1969, at the height of the Brazilian Military Dictatorship.

He is no stranger to Latin American politics or the Geopolitics that so often dictate it.

Following this meeting he used his May Day speech the next day to send a message to those suffering under the current situation in Brazil.

“We send our message of solidarity all around the world, those who are going through difficult times, those going through difficult times all over Latin America and in Brazil in particular.

We send them a message of support & solidarity, the march for social justice, the march for equality will continue, and will not be halted by anybody else.” – Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party Leader 1/5/16

Video of Jeremy Corbyn’s message to Brasil

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady also joined Mr Corbyn in calling for solidarity with Brazilian workers resisting the attempts of big business to halt the tide of social change in the country. Left-wing president Dilma Rousseff is currently under threat of impeachment.

Ms O’Grady said workers in Brazil were “fighting for their rights, for self-determination, democracy and justice.”

Later in Trafalgar Square, the crowd was urged to join a demonstration outside the Brazilian embassy on May 10 by a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Democracy in Brazil.

The group had spoken to a very attentive Corbyn and put impeachment opponents case that the process against Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is but a poorly-disguised coup d’etat.

Rousseff is accused not of corruption related to Oil company Petrobras, but of “fiscal pedalling”, a routine accounting practice used by nearly all state governors and previous presidents.

Most of the politicians staging the Coup are involved in very serious graft cases themselves, and their only hope of preventing investigation is by forcing democratically-elected Rousseff from office. They are supported by the partisan and rightwing Brazilian mainstream media and compromised judiciary. The latter have tacitly traded their silence for a pay rise of 78% – which Rousseff recently vetoed.

The Coup is being conducted not just in the interest of corruption, but also in order to benefit the wealthy elites dismantle the enormous social achievements of the Brazilian Workers’ Party in the past 13 years, which include lifting almost 40 million Brazilians out of poverty as well as massive improvements to university access and labour and social rights.

Very alarmingly, there is also a rapid rise of fascism in Brazil. Member of Congress Jair Bolsonaro dedicated his impeachment vote to Brilhante Ustra, a military captain who personally tortured president Rousseff during the military dictatorship. He has also in the past called for the murder of “at least 20,000 Brazilians” in order to reinstall a military regime.

There are also international interests at stake. Rousseff committed 50% of Brazilian oil to education, and Brazil is set to become one of the top-3 oil-exporters in the world in just a few years, once the drills reach the pre-salt layers in the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Brazil is also the largest economy in Latin America and the “B” of Brics.

Not coincidently, The “student leader” Kim Kataguiri, one of the most visible exponents of this Coup, is financed by Students for Liberty, an organisation created by the Koch Bros. They also own the oil refinery company Koch Industries, which are relatively low-profile and yet one of the largest private organisations in the US and the world.

There are other factors suggesting that the US has been involved in injecting instability as a pretext to coup, just like they did in Brazil in 1964 and in many other Latin American countries since.

The American Ambassador in Brazil right now is Liliana Ayalde, the same one that was in Paraguay during the events that led to the overthrow of democratically-elected president Lugo, which also amounted to “Parliamentary Coup.”

Brazilian judge Sérgio Moro, head of the Lava-Jato or Car-Wash corruption probe received an award as one of the most influential people in the world from Time Magazine last week. Moro has been illegally tapping the president’s phone, while failing to similarly investigate corruption allegations against the opposition parties behind the petition for impeachment, leading to widespread accusations of political motivation. The climate of anti-corruption has served as the pretext for Rousseff’s removal, despite her not being charged with any crime related to this case.

Perhaps most significantly, on April 18th, the day after the Brazilian Congress voted in favour of Rousseff’s legally baseless impeachment, the most decisive step in the process, the Brazilian senator and putschist Aloysio Nunes travelled to New York in order to meet with Thomas Shannon. He is the most senior person in Latin American affairs in the American government, and reports directly to John Kerry and Obama.

The price of the American dream is the Latin American nightmare, it seems.

Prominent members of the Latin community in London and the Labour Party are set to attend the largest demonstration yet organised by Democracy for Brasil UK on May 10th outside the Brazilian Embassy in London. More information can be found here.


By Victor Fraga

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian-born journalist and activist based in London. He is also a member of Democracy for Brasil UK