This article by Thaís Cavalcante is one of a series of five opinion pieces on the impeachment by community reporters published this week on RioOnWatch.
Thaís Cavalcante is 21 years old, she has been a community reporter since 2012 in Complexo da Maré, where she was born and raised. She is studying for a degree in journalism and contributes to Jornal O Cidadão and The Guardian.
I discovered that more than 300 politicians that I watched on television discussing the impeachment vote were not elected by a majority vote, but rather with “the surplus” of votes for their party. The feeling of getting to know each one for the first time through their speeches was frightening. I only saw lies, slander and promises. That Sunday night in April was not just any night. Despite the blame falling entirely on the Workers Party, in our National Congress most of our parliamentarians are people affiliated with the PMDB. That’s it! This acronym means Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. This seems more of a joke than reality. After all, in what democracy do half a dozen politicians have more power than 54 million votes [that elected Dilma]?
The problem is no longer to choose political sides. Now we have to fight for rights. The right to vote and for the constitution to be respected (even if it is outdated). There is no justice in a case where the accused accuse each other. We do not need promises. We need action. I say this because up until now I have benefited from the current governing party.
In addition to bringing thousands of people out of poverty, the implementation of social programs involving education, health and sport have impacted youth and families. I’ve seen this. It is a constitutional obligation to comply with laws that encourage the growth and development of the country. So it is important to recognize the impacts, but remember that this recognition is not a demonstration of support for the party so much as a miserable acceptance of the current order. At some point we were going to get this. It took time but it arrived. I benefited several times from social programs during the current administration. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I received Bolsa Familia while studying in municipal schools; I got a scholarship to learn photography through the National Program for Access to Technical Education and Employment (PRONATEC), a scholarship to study basic English through the Senac Gratuity Program (PSG), a scholarship to study for a degree in Journalism through the University for All Program (PROUNI) and I also have the right to a university student travel card which allows free travel to and from college.
All of this represents just some of the opportunities I received because I could not afford to study. Public education was what transformed my critical thinking and increased my desire for change. So it would simply be hypocritical to criticize the current government for their good or bad deeds, as most Congress members did on Sunday April 17.
My parents did not finish elementary school. To work in the fields required much time and effort, which meant they had to leave school and fully devote themselves to maintaining the household. The decision to move to Rio de Janeiro also involved my future, although my birth hadn’t been planned. I have benefits that, if I lived the reality of the distant northeast (where my parents were from), I probably would not have. But the fight to improve public education is immense. The more I gain opportunities to acquire knowledge, the more I enter into the world of learning and want to share what I’ve learned. Today I communicate to inform, and also to educate: I give lectures and even teach. The only feeling I have is that of gratitude.