Brazil is deeply polarized. President Dilma Rousseff was re-elected in 2014 by a small margin over her opponent Aecio Neves. During that occasion Neves' voters, indifferent to the "Mineiraço", the embarrassing 7-1 defeat the national soccer team conceded to Germany, decided to wear the team's traditional yellow jersey at polling stations as a symbol of resistance against what they perceive as the red takeover of the country in the past 12 years. In their delusional minds, Rousseff's Workers' Party (PT) implemented a socialist regime in the country, despite the fact that capitalism boomed under Dilma's mentor and predecessor, former President Lula da Silva. The yellow shirts also symbolizes the takeover of state oil company Petrobras, engulfed in scandal, by the people; the investigations are ongoing since March 2014 and were unable to link either Dilma or Lula to the charges.
Throughout 2015, the yellow shirts unsuccessfully tried to force Dilma's removal from office. They have the support of virtually all media and opposition parties (with the exception of the small, far left PSOL), the lower house of Congress, doctors' unions, the powerful São Paulo Federation of Industries (FIESP) and, surprisingly, the National Bar Association (OAB), whose president said Dilma will be impeached based on "a bunch of stuff", although that is not a legal provision of the Constitution to impeach a democratically-elected President. Dilma, on the other hand, failed to gather a significant amount of support, especially after she decided to implement austerity measures similar to those defended by the defeated candidate's agenda. Her popularity descended to one-digit numbers and grassroots movements -- the core of PT -- distanced themselves from the government.
As impeachment proceedings advanced, however, the red shirts gained conscious that their bad situation under Dilma could get a lot worse upon her Vice President's ascension to office. Dilma's VP, Michel Temer, launched an economic agenda to save Brazil's fragile economy, ironically named "A bridge to the future". It criminalizes social welfare and educational programs which are trademarks of PT. Temer will cut social expenditures and throw millions of Brazilians back into poverty just to assure investors that Brazil will pay its immoral public debt. Unionized workers, the landless workers' movement (MST), the homeless workers' movement (MTST), artists, intellectuals and even some distinguished members and voters of PSOL -- such as actor Wagner Moura from Narcos -- joined forces to denounce the VP's conspiracy, which reached an all-time high this week when he forced his party, PMDB -- which he also presides -- to drop out of the government coalition.
If you ask them, the yellow shirts will say that their main struggle is against corruption, even though they don't seem to mind Temer's involvement with the Petrobras scandal. The fact is that corruption is not their main concern. Otherwise, they wouldn't have welcomed teachers and students protesting a fraud in the São Paulo schools' meals program at the headquarters of FIESP with sticks. The red shirts want to protest against corruption too, but not just the scandals involving PT. This hypocritical approach to corruption has produced unusual allies for the red shirts. Supreme Court judge Marco Aurelio de Mello, a longtime critic of PT, has bashed lower-rank federal judge Sergio Moro, responsible for the Petrobras inquiry, for his methods. He was universally condemned by the Court for releasing wiretapped phone conversations between Lula and Dilma without the judges' permission -- according to Brazilian law, the President cannot be wired without the permission of the Supreme Court.
Although the international media seems to be buying the local media's narrative without much questioning, the yellow shirt movement is anything but a fair cry against corruption. For instance, at their rallies someone held a sign reading "refusing to pay taxes is not corruption!", and they parked a truck with loud speakers in the middle of a bike lane in a gross violation of the Brazilian Traffic Code. In addition, the giant yellow duck which FIESP commissioned to be the symbol of the movement was plagiarized from a Dutch artist. They are not freedom fighters struggling against widespread corruption like the Chinese students at Tiananmen Square. They are self-centered members of an elite which doesn't want the government to pay social welfare. That is the very reason for which they plan to impeach Dilma -- because of her budgetary maneuvers to guarantee the payment of a social benefit to poor families. Yellow shirts are far from being the heroes. They're the local version of Tea Partiers -- And nobody should praise that.
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