June 2013 produces twists to the left and right – 05/27/2023 – Politics

June 2013 produces twists to the left and right – 05/27/2023 – Politics


Thousands of Brazilians taking to the streets in June 2013 inaugurated a decade of social and political upheavals, which included an impeachment, the rise of the radical right after a cycle of leftist governments, the first arrest of a former president of the Republic after of criminal conviction and his new election to the leadership of the country.

Ten years later, the demonstrations “against everything” that shook Brazil, walling up the political class and burying a World Cup in doubts, are an inconclusive subject for national life and an enigma to be fully unraveled by historians and academics.

The timid protests on June 6 in the capital of São Paulo against the increase in public transport fares quickly turned into acts with diffuse agendas, unrelated to the initial cause, the fare reduction, and which spread across the country.

Liberal and reactionary agendas were added, in a melting pot that included complaints about the imbalance between the weight of taxes and the quality of public services, attacks on spending on the football tournament about to take place in the sport’s symbol country, and demands for a military coup.

The four weeks of upheaval were connected to a global wave of anti-establishment revolts similarly summoned by then-infancy social media.

In the wake of the 2008 economic crisis, Facebook and Twitter were used to articulate movements such as the Arab Spring, the “indignados” in Spain and Occupy Wall Street in the US.

Scenes of depredation practiced by black blocs, police violence, conflicts between the demonstrators themselves, attempts at government reaction and general stupefaction marked the Brazilian case. Since then, the streets have become the character of a country that still lives with the ills pointed out in 2013.

The tip of a skein that continues to be pulled, the so-called June days are seen by a current of sociology and political science researchers, as well as a portion of party leaders and social movements, as a kind of seminal knot of the years of crisis.

From this perspective, there is a common thread that runs through the overthrow of Dilma Rousseff (PT), the support for Operation Lava Jato, the arrest of Lula (PT) —now president again—, the election of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) and the coup attacks by Bolsonarists against the headquarters of the three Powers on January 8 of this year.

Due to the series of setbacks it imposed on the left, especially on the PT, there are those who see June as the origin of a cursed legacy, which bequeathed to the country democratic setbacks evidenced in the recently ended Bolsonaro years (2019-2022).

This interpretation coexists with the realization that the right-wing field was catapulted to another level in the national public debate. The impact is visible in the list of elected representatives for the Executive and Legislative branches, not only because of the discussions that broke out that year, but above all in the chapters that followed.

“A comprehensive view of June, without slipping into simplifications, has to recognize that it also arose due to the limits of the leftist project that was in power. The origins were legitimate”, says the national president of PSOL, Juliano Medeiros, also a historian and scientist political.

“I don’t just see the serpent’s egg there, as a part of the left thinks that doesn’t want to settle accounts with its own history. The germ was there too, but there were other elements. It’s a more complex phenomenon, which included low quality of services and lack of structural reforms.”

For Medeiros, however, the most punished field in 2013 was “the old right with silk fists”, symbolized by the PSDB, with its replacement by a new right.

The Novo party, which at that time collected signatures from supporters to become official, benefited from the climate of discontent with the establishment, as explained by businessman João Amoêdo, who helped found the party for which he ran for president in 2018 and disaffiliated in 2022. .

“We took advantage of the fact that people are more attentive to politics to spread the ideas of the New, which was already rising up against the reality of paying a lot of taxes and having little return from the State”, he says, who sees institutions more weakened than there have been ten years, contrary to what I expected.

In opposition to the leftist verve of the MPL (Movimento Passe Livre), which called the first marches in June, sectors of the right inspired by the impetus of the masses and by the diffuse feeling of indignation coalesced from 2014 onwards.

From there emerged groups such as MBL (Movimento Brasil Livre) and Vem Pra Rua, agitators of the successful pro-impeachment marches.

“We [da direita] came into existence after 2013”, says Kim Kataguiri (União Brasil-SP), one of the founders of the MBL and federal deputy in his second term.

In the parliamentarian’s view, the right was still stigmatized as a pillar of the military dictatorship (1964-1985), but was “decriminalized” after June. “And he ended up leading this process because the general dissatisfaction was with the government [do PT]. Dilma was one of the biggest trainers of liberals in Brazil “, she ironizes.

Weakened by Lava Jato investigations against her party, the then president succumbed, making room for her then vice-president, Michel Temer (MDB). Upon taking office, he provided a shift to the right responsible for paving the way to Bolsonaro’s Planalto and his radical views.

The interpretations have nuances according to each point of view —the variety of analyzes even includes the reading of a certain degree of independence between the post-2013 facts. But there is a consensus that Brazilians became more involved with politics from then on and that the system shook.

“There were several ‘Junes of 2013’, with movements in various places and very different stages”, says Luis Felipe Miguel, professor of political science at UnB (University of Brasília).

For him, the development evidenced a left-wing questioning of the Dilma government and the PT’s policies. Afterwards, the right seized the moment, exploiting the fight against corruption to mobilize the middle class and with “a frankly reactionary speech with the idea of ​​Brazil’s recovery”, he says.

“The next issue was to see who had the capacity to construct meaning for such heterogeneous manifestations. And the sectors of opposition to PTism were much more skillful, due to their presence in the mass media and their resourcefulness in social networks”, says Miguel.

Left minimizes losing streak

In a less pessimistic key, representatives of the left minimize the sequence of defeats and resort to the argument that the need to resist the measures implemented by Temer and Bolsonaro regrouped the opposition camp, which contributed in 2022 to Lula’s victory.

The most realistic explanations include self-criticism about the causes of the uprising, such as the confinement of those in power at that point and the consequent loss of connection with the popular bases, added to the accommodation of social movements reconciled with the central government.

“Right-wing movements managed to capitalize on the moment, and the left lost control,” says political scientist Vera Chaia.

“The polarization that was established in the demonstrations themselves and spread in society is still a remnant of 2013, but it also united democratic sectors in the recent court”, continues the PUC-SP professor, for whom the strength of civil society is greater now than a decade ago.

The central legacy is that popular mobilization came to be seen as an element capable of interfering with institutionality. At the same time, 2013 jolted the youth who grew up under the years of peaceful transition between PSDB and PT governments towards more active political engagement.

For those who seek to see the glass half full, there is also the consolation that the representation of the most stigmatized and poor layers gained momentum over the decade, in line with the awakening of segments such as women, blacks and LGBTQIA+ to activism and political struggle .

On the right, the celebration that June opened the door to what is described as a break in the hegemony of the left appears alongside calls to dissociate the defense of liberalism and conservatism from the authoritarian and coup agenda instigated by Bolsonaro and his extremist followers.

The call for the differentiation between democratic and anti-democratic postures is an attempt to respond to criticisms about the emergence of an anti-political rhetoric from the 2013 mobilizations.

More moderate voices on the right side claim their rise in influence as a result of spontaneous and growing demand from the electorate for anti-left positions. Last year, Lula’s election —just 1.8 percentage points ahead of Bolsonaro— contrasted with the formation of a mostly conservative Congress, which has harmed the current government.

The Footsteps of June 2013

Increase in fares and ‘Revolta do Busão’ (Aug.12 to May.13)
Before the protests of June 2013, some capitals registered demonstrations against high transport tariffs, such as Natal, with the “Revolta do Busão” movement, Rio de Janeiro, with the “Forum of Struggles against the Increase of Tickets”, and Porto Alegre, with the creation of the “Front Against the Increase”

20 cents and Free Pass in SP (6.jun.13)
Inspired by Porto Alegre, the Movimento Passe Livre promotes an act against the increase in fares from R$3 to R$3.20 in São Paulo, initially gathering around 2,000 demonstrators. The presence of black blocs and the truculence of the PM increased the repercussion of the acts

No Cup? (15.jun.13)
On the opening day of the Confederations Cup, in Brasilia, there was an act against spending for the 2014 World Cup. The protests lost the mark of being only against tariff readjustments. Cities such as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have recorded demonstrations with extensive confrontation between police and demonstrators

Revocation of raises (June 19, 2013)
After the sequence of demonstrations that took place in SP and Rio, both governments announced, on the same day, the repeal of the increase in public transport fares. The initiatives, however, were not enough to empty the acts, now with more diffuse agendas

“The giant woke up” (20.jun.13)
The culmination of the June journeys was reached on the 20th, when more than 1.2 million people, according to police estimates, gathered in more than one hundred Brazilian cities. Most of the marches were peaceful, but there were clashes with the police in several cities, such as Rio, Brasília and São Paulo

Dilma’s statement (June 21, 2013)
After the biggest day of demonstrations of the month, then-president Dilma Rousseff made a speech lasting about ten minutes, promising to speak with mayors and governors to create a pact to improve public services. She said she was in favor of claims and protests, but criticized vandalism.

National pacts and proposals (24.jun.13)
After meetings with governors and mayors, Dilma presented five pacts for the country. Maintenance of fiscal responsibility, investments in health, increased spending on public transport, appreciation of education and political reform were addressed.

Movements lose steam, Brazil champion (30.jun.13)
By this point in June, the protests had already lost steam. The Brazilian team beat Spain 3-0 and became four-time champion of the Confederations Cup, in Maracanã. Outside the stadium, there was turmoil from an act that started in Tijuca, in the north zone of Rio.


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