Featured Image: Jean Wyllys of the Socialism and Freedom Party in Brazil.
Black Opinion republishes here this interview, in light of the events happening in Brazil.
With only 6 Deputies, the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), is popular among young people, social and cultural movements and the LGBT movement, of which Jean Wyllys is the only representative in the Congress. He is the author of the draft bills on Equal Marriage, Gender Identity, Legalization of Abortion and Legalization of Marijuana, among others. He’s known for having spit on the parliamentarian who, in the vote on the impeachment against Dilma Rousseff, dedicated his positive vote to the military who tortured Dilma Rousseff during the 1964 dictatorship. “Those who organized this coup —he says— are the same leaders of the ’64 coup”, he said.
–You are the only representative of the LGBT movement in the Congress. What is it like to be a minority in a Congress that vaguely represents its population?
It’s important to point out that it’s not just the National Congress which is not representing the diversity of the Brazilian population, but also the Legislative Assemblies of the States and other Municipal Legislatures. First of all, these organisms are conformed mostly by men, although the majority of the Brazilian population is female. Furthermore, there are very few black people represented in the Legislative Power, especially in the National Congress and in the Senate. I’m the only homosexual in Congress.
On the other hand, there is an overrepresentation of businessmen, as well as representatives of the financial market, the media corporation, agribusiness barons, neo-Pentecostal churches and representatives of the security forces, meaning, Deputies or Senators that are linked to the civilian police, the military police and the armed forces.
Having said this, let me tell you that my daily work is not easy. Nowadays, I enjoy a certain prestige, because this is my second mandate and it is well respected, but it was not easy to earn that respect and my relationship with other Deputies is not easy: there is a lot of homophobia. Even though they daily try to disguise that homophobia, in the last few months, the fact that I stood against the impeachment to President Dilma Rousseff has caused new, strong aggressions against me. It’s not easy having a progressive agenda in such a conservative Parliament, as it’s not easy debating laws to broaden the rights of minorities, especially of the LGBT minority. They usually block all the projects I present, such as the project to promote LGBT citizenship, or projects in favor of the defense of Human Rights. Then, there is no alternative but to have more of a political activity and less of a legislative activity. My mandate has few legislative successes —I couldn’t get the most relevant bills approved, so I had to take the political path. When I can’t achieve the approval of a draft bill, I address the Judicial Power and that’s how we have reached some of our conquests. In this way, we managed to guarantee the right to equal civil marriage, we managed to enable the use of the “social name” (the name by which a transgender or transvestite person prefers to be called, in contrast to their registered name, which doesn’t reflect their gender identity) in the public administration. Before the coup, President Dilma signed a decree that allowed all transvestites and transgender people to use their social name in the public administration.
– This was noticeable on the day on which the impeachment was voted in the Chamber of Deputies.
Since I was first inaugurated, in my first mandate, I’ve been a victim of a smear campaign, organized and financed by the Brazilian right, mainly by the Christian right and the organized fascist groups in Brazil. I suffer a constant mobbing from Jair Bolsonaro and his son, who publicly insult me during all the sessions in the Chamber. During the voting of the impeachment, everyone was very tense, the political environment was rarefied by the violence of the right. The right dedicated itself to put pressure on the left Deputies and, especially, on the Workers’ Party, in restaurants, airports, hospitals, etc. It was a constant attack, a sort of McCarthyism. Then, on that day, the situation was very tense and the Deputies in favor of the impeachment were a majority. Because of that, and knowing that the session was being broadcasted live by Globo Red, they believed they could insult, attack and impair Deputies that were against the impeachment. When I stood up to vote, I did it amidst a wave insults. I said that the impeachment process is unconstitutional and illegitimate and that it was organized by a group of villains who are trying to overthrow an honest President. These people were not acting as Deputies, it was a display of ignorance, of contempt for public affairs. Private interests were present in those speeches, dedicated to granddaughters, sons, dogs, but never to the Brazilian people.
–Some voted in the name of Militaries.
Yes! In the name of a torturer, the torturer of President Dilma. Just before I issued my vote, Jair Bolsonaro had dedicated his vote to one of the worst torturers of the Military Dictatorship: Colonel Brilhante Ustra. When I finished my speech, he insulted me and when I looked at him he said to me “Tchau Querida” (Bye Dear, a sarcastic slogan of the right directed at Dilma). Then, for all I had endured over the past 6 years, which culminated right there in that moment, I spat on his face and I don’t regret it. I never spat on anyone, I’m a polite man. But I’m human, and I have limits.
The coalition of parties that are now in the Presidency are conservative parties that have not allowed the truth commission to advance and to warn our democracy about what was going on. And so, a new coup was perpetrated in Brazil. Those who organized this coup are the same leaders of the coup of ’64. These are the same institutions, the same oligarchies, the same media, who now carried out another coup against democracy.
There is another distinctive characteristic in Temer’s government, which is his close relation with the elites of the Evangelist Church. How does it work?
Michel Temer is the interim President since the impeachment was opened and he was named interim President of the Republic. But in practice, the real President of Brazil is Eduardo Cunha, former President of the Chamber of Deputies, who was suspended from his seat by the Federal Supreme Court due to corruption, specifically, tax evasion and money laundering though the Evangelist Church. This man is a gangster, who obtained fundings for the campaigns of over a hundred Deputies, and has a great relationship with the financial market and large companies. He has set up a corruption scheme not only in Petrobras, but also in Furnas, a mining company. Temer is a façade, and Cunha is the one who holds the real power. We have to bare in mind that 20% of the Brazilian population is evangelical. Churches have tax immunity granted by the Constitution. No one controls their resources. Many neo-Pentecostal churches (not all of them), have become economic forces and have become the perfect place for money laundering. A perfect example of this is Eduardo Cunha, who laundered money through the Evangelist Church “Asamblea de Dios” (God’s Assembly). So, these churches are involved in politics, and they invest in the campaigns of candidates who now hold positions in Parliament, in municipalities and States. This is Temer’s and Cunha’s political construction, so we can affirm that the Executive power is nowadays in the hands of organized crime.
–When Zelaya was deposed in Honduras and then Lugo in Paraguay, Latin American countries expressed their rejection as a block. But Macri’s government in Argentina vindicated the “institutional process” in Brazil. What’s your interpretation on the regional scenario regarding the coup in Brazil?
I believe that all Latin America must pay close attention to what’s happening in Brazil because it’s the 7th world economy and because we have created diplomatic bonds and an important regional cooperation. I’m not surprised that the Argentine government has expressed its respect to the “Brazilian institutional process”, because it’s consistent with the plutocracies of both countries. On the other hand, the President of Uruguay said he doesn’t recognize the new government as a legitimate government. Angela Merkel and Hollande didn’t call Temer when he took office. Even Barack Obama didn’t call. Even though the OAS ambassador said that what happened in Brazil is not a coup, it’s important to point out that Obama didn’t contact Temer. Then, it’s important to deconstruct the narrative that affirms that the process against Dilma is constitutional. This happened in Honduras, in Paraguay and now in Brazil and we should denaturalize this processes.
– How would you describe the reaction of the Brazilian society to the coup? Are only social, student and union movements protesting, or there is also a broader mobilization?
The resistance against the coup is becoming massive all over Brazil. In the past fews days, there were rallies, activities, etc. And those who attend those activities are not only linked to social movements, there were students, workers, and civil population. Also, there is a strong resistance among homeless workers, landless workers, the black movement (especially in the suburbs of larger cities) there’s resistance from women (who are main characters in this movement), education workers, etc. What happens is that the Globo Red [the main media network in the country] is not broadcasting this. In Porto Alegre, 30,000 people took to the streets and there was no TV coverage. We have an anti-democratic media, as in many other countries. For example, when Dilma was President every time the dollar raised or the stock market declined, it was blamed on the government’s alleged incompetence. Now that Dilma is suspended from her position, they say the fluctuations are caused by the international economy. A horrifying intellectual dishonesty.
Your were appointed as coordinator of the FrenteCom —the Parliamentary Front for Freedom of Speech and the Right to Communication—. From that position, how do you plan to address these issues?
The FrenteCom has the challenge of continuing the legislative agenda regarding the democratization of communication. The agenda we want to carry out in the Chamber of Deputies, prioritizes the important political struggle of offering a counter-narrative to the one broadcasted by the hegemonic media. Also, we want to denounce in international media what is happening in Brazil. This is fundamental because the international press is denouncing the coup in Brazil. Actors and actresses that travelled to the Cannes Festival to represent the film Aquarius denounced the coup on the red carpet and that image was in the front page of journal The Guardian, in the U.K. El País and The New York Times also denounced the coup. According to us, international press is a key element since our press is not democratic.
What do you think the political future will look like in Brazil, and specifically what will the role of the Workers’ Party of Lula and Dilma be?
During the 180 days of her impeachment, Dilma’s lawyers will present her defense. This is why the current government is quickly dismantling the State, reducing social policies and accelerating privatizations. I have never seen an interim government do so much damage in so little time. They are dismantling the State with the Support of the Judicial Power and Mass Media. I believe there is a massive resistance in the streets, universities, unions, etc., which along with the support of international media, may lead to the defeat of the coup. The coup can be defeated. However, if the coup is defeated and Dilma comes back, she will find many difficulties to rule because the majority of the Congress will still be against her. The only way out is to call general, direct elections because we need to return sovereignty to the people. Dilma has made many mistakes in her mandate, but those mistakes are not crimes and no ruler should be deposed because of the mistakes he or she makes, in any case, that must be corrected by new elections. Now, the next step for the coupists is to prevent Lula from running, because they know he is the most powerful political force in the country, and he is still the best president this country had. The coupist forces know they won’t be elected in the polls if they run, so they seek to criminalize Lula.
If the real objective of the Lava Jato Operation was to fight corruption, we would not have a group of corrupts in the Executive Power. The Lava Jato operation is not an operation against the systemic corruption that rots all Brazilian institutions, it’s an operation to destroy the Workers’ Party and to imprison Lula.
First published on The Dawn website