By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Representatives from dozens of social movements met in Brasília on Thursday (August 13th) to show solidarity with Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, before scheduled mass protests in the country’s major cities against the government on Sunday, August 16th. Rousseff, who was present at the meeting, heard several statements of support from social movement leaders who said they would not allow for the impeachment of the President.
“Coup organizers use social dissatisfaction to impose their political project and attack democracy,” said Guilherme Boulos, coordinator of the Homeless Workers’ Movement. According to Boulos those who are organizing the protests live in upper middle class neighborhoods in large Brazilian cities, and do not represent the Brazilian population.
There were some that went even further. Vagner Freitas, president of the Central Workers Union said Rousseff supporters would be willing to go to extremes to protect the President. “This means going to the streets, entrenched, with arms in hand, if they try to overthrow President Rousseff. Any attack on you or on former President Lula, will [turn us into] the army that will face this bourgeoisie,” he said to the crowd.
Later Freitas posted a message on CUT’s website stating he was misunderstood and that when he spoke of arms he was talking about ‘arms of democracy, which is the fight for rights, organized protests, respecting differences’.
Rousseff spoke for almost an hour to representatives, stating that her administration had and will continue to work towards a more equal Brazilian society. “Democracy is something we must preserve at any cost,” said Rousseff to the audience.
The administration is fearful that mass protests announced for Sunday will destabilize her government even further, which is already shaken by the wave of corruption allegations against public servants and politicians, as well as a weakening economy.
According to one of the protests’ organizers, Movimento Brasil Livre (Free Brazil Movement), 114 cities have confirmed to hold protests, and more than one million people are expected to go to the streets and call for an end to widespread corruption, and some ask for the impeachment of the president. This is the third country-wide protest against the government this year.