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Activists Explain Low Favela Participation in Fight against Dilma Impeachment “Coup”

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For the original in Portuguese published by Brasil 247 click here.

The demonstration against the impeachment of President Dilma Rouseff and in favor of the fall of Brazil’s congressional president, Eduardo Cunha (a Rio de Janeiro politician elected to Congress via the PMDB party), on December 16 saw ten thousand people take to the streets of Cinelândia in downtown Rio de Janeiro, and over the last month has gained great momentum on social networks. However, it doesn’t seem to have mobilized social movements or activists from the favelas. Reporters from Favela 247 spoke to favela leaders who explained the motives behind joining or staying away from the protests and analyze the reasons why this movement against the coup has failed to ignite the interests of favela residents. “I think that the left-leaning favela movement is more concerned about combating the genocide of black people” says poet Deley do Acari. Read their opinions below:

André Constantine, 39, Favela Não se Cala

We, black favela residents, have other fights to be won. Among them, the most important is to stay alive, survive this structural and institutional genocide that is being committed by the State against the black favela population. I recognize the importance of taking to the streets to have our voices counted against this impeachment movement, but we are dying. A two year old child just got killed. Dilma goes, Cunha comes in, and the black population continues to die. We just want to live.

André Fernandes, 44, Agência de Notícias da Favela (ANF – Favela News Agency)

ANF’s collaborators were present en masse during the demonstration. ANF was there more to cover the event. As an organization we are against the impeachment and we are demonstrating to demand that Eduardo Cunha leave his position as Congressional president. Any citizens who want to maintain the democratic state and who can’t stand Cunha’s ideas should have gone to the protest!

Davison Coutinho, 24, Rocinha, Vidigal, and Chácara do Céu Residents’ Commission

I believe the low allegiance to the (anti impeachment) movement from the favelas has its reasons. First, it is good to clarify that the reason why favelas are not getting involved with the movements is not because they want Dilma to go; everyone knows if the coup happens everything will get worse (for favela residents). In fact, besides this low participation, there are very few comments and conversations on the coup. The favela resident is living a dog’s life. The problems in the favela are routine–today in Rocinha there are some areas without electricity, some without water. Everything is very expensive. Christmas is coming and there are families without food on their tables. There are many Christmas commercials tormenting the lives of children and parents who can’t even pay their rent and have to explain to their children why they can’t have presents. We turn on the TV and see the large deviations of public money, people wearing fox fur and sporting gold with money swindled from the health budget while children die in public hospitals. These are just some of the many reasons why residents do not go to the demonstrations. Our problems, unfortunately, do not allow us to.

Deley do Acari, 77, poet and community leader from Acari

I’ve noticed this issue hasn’t resonated with the favela movement, in spite of the fact that the majority of favela residents are against the impeachment, as they value the social projects the Workers Party, Lula and Dilma have created, and certainly most of the favela population is against Cunha and Renan [president of Brazil’s Senate]. Favela organizations like AfroReggae who are in favor of Aécio [president of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party who lost the presidential election to Dilma in 2014] are certainly against Dilma. I believe that the more left-leaning favela movement is prioritizing the fight against black genocide, and those more to the right are seeing the beast that will give them the chance to position themselves opportunistically.

Fransergio Goulart, 43, Manguinhos Social Forum and Rio de Janeiro Youth Forum

We don’t participate because we will not defend the government and party that supports the militarization of favelas and are also responsible for the daily execution of young, poor, black favela residents. We want to make it clear that other political forces also historically did and do the same things with us. Our struggle is against this political and economic system and racism, so we will continue with the movement “In 2016: Don’t Vote, Fight.”

Gabriel Siqueira, 26, Youth Council of the Federation of Favela Residents’ Associations of Rio de Janeiro (FAFERJ)

The Federation of Favelas in Rio de Janeiro was present at the demonstration against the impeachment of President Dilma on December 16. However, this was a decision made by the leader of the Federation, president Rossino Diniz. Participation in the movement has been relatively low from the favelas for two reasons: 1) There’s a great absence of left leaning parties in the daily struggles in the favelas of Rio, and 2) There is widespread dissatisfaction with the current government, which has been felt mainly due to the large increases in the costs of basic necessities such as food and cleaning and hygiene products.