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“ABC of a strike” TALK


The coup that deposed Dilma Rousseff was misogynist, classist and patrimonial

Neyde Lantyer at Film Cavia – Talk


Brazil has a very short democratic experience.
The Brazilian middle-class mentality likes to think of itself as modern but in fact, the Brazilian history is deeply rooted in its colonial past, which encompass 500 years of Portuguese colonization (as well as the exploitative presence of the Dutch, French, Spanish, North American, etc) plus 300 years of slavery in the most violent fashion of economic and human exploitation.

The Brazilian society was forged in the shadow of slavery,
which generated specific social relations and family types, a specific justice system, and a very particular type of economy that accumulates capital by means of force, condemning the most fragile to abandonment and daily humiliation.

The Brazilian slavery heritage has never been reflected and left behind; it keeps shaping the Brazilian class relationships, which are extremely unequal and violent.











A young Dilma Rousseff faces the the military court (image Memorial da Democracia)

2 – THE COUP –

The coup that removed Dilma Rousseff from power was misogynous, classist and patrimonial. In 130 years of Republic (from 1889), Brazil practiced archaic forms of republicanism that resulted in political instability, suffering several coups- d’etat such as the declaration of Republic itself, the “1930’s Revolution” and, more recently, the military coup of 1964, which lasted 21 years, torturing, killing and making disappearing its opponents.

The rise of the metal workers, as seen in the film, helped to defeat the military’ dictatorship in the 80’s as the largest popular resistance movement that Brazil has ever seen.

The overthrowing of Dilma Rousseff – the first female president of the country – by means of an illegal impeachment, was a parliamentary/judiciary coup, strongly supported and promoted by the Brazilian hegemonic media (owned by only 5 families) and the Supreme Federal Court of Justice at the service of the economic elites – while carried by a middle-class that has no economic power but holds the “knowledge”, such judges, doctors, journalists and university professors. The economic elite keeps the people in a permanent state of ignorance by means of buying media, justice and politicians.

A moralistic agenda against corruption that selectively attacked ex-president Lula and the Worker’s Party justified the coup of 2016. In power from 2002 until the coup last year, the Worker’s Party have been the main executive agent of a small but fundamental social ascension, which created a minimum system of social protection and access to education to the poor and the black people. In fact, the real intention of the coup of 2016 was eradicating such social benefits created by the Worker’s Party governments, with the purpose of keeping the people in an everlasting state of poverty and exclusion.

Lula da Silva speaks to the metal workers, 1979 (image Memorial da Democracia)


Brazil has a very precarious working class, closely linked to the heritage of slavery, without access to formal education, living in poor areas, targeted by the police that systematically kill the black youth. This unprotected class is mostly black, but also encompasses Northeastern migrants and the indigenous population and can be identified by the lack of access to services and rights. Both exploited and hated, they have inherited the derision once meant for the slaves. Their only function in society is to sell their labour force.

Despite the remarkable economic achievements, the decrease of poverty and the respect of the international community, the 13 years of Worker’s Party in presidency fail to create the necessary changes in the system itself. If, on the one hand, their new social policies to protect the vulnerable transformed the lives of 40 million people, on the other, they were not able to promote the basic reforms in the political, tributary and communication systems to revert the patrimonial order

and effectively guarantee social justice for long-term changing outcomes.

Even so, part of the Brazilian society felt threatened by the small economic rise of those historically abandoned classes, taking place in the last 13 years. This sentiment was expressed in the anger with the presence of poor people in shopping malls and at airports. Such anger increased when the domestic workers (an activity directly derived from slavery) achieved their rights for fair wage and holiday pay but, specially, when the poor and black began to attend universities.

The improvement of life of the poor was definitely not desired and therefore, the coup got the massive support of the middle-class, directly affected in their privileged way of life, in which they have been free to exploit domestic workers in archaic forms of working relationships. It is important to understand that the systematic hatred of the Brazilian middle class against the PT project was a hatred towards social inclusion.

Ultimately, the coup that lifted to power the current illegitimate president Michel Temer and a gang of all sorts of corrupted politicians is an attempt to maintain the survival of the patrimonial system based in the heritage of the slavery system, resulting in a society that humbles the poor. The system has spread such an intense hatred that any improvement in misery generates violent reaction, backed by the media. The society is divided and blind to understand that this tragic moment in our history can delay in many decades the Brazilian dream of becoming a modern society.


Neyde Lantyer, June 2017.

“ABC da Greve (ABC of a Strike )” Documentary film, 35mm, 75 minDirected by Leon Hirszman

Film Cavia, Amsterdam, 2017

The film covers the strikes of 150.00 metal workers in the industrial area of São Paulo, known as “ABC”, for better wages and living conditions, under the leadership of Lula da Silva. The regimen responded with an intervention in the workers union and begins a major repression operation. The movement escalates and, in 45 days, employers and employees come to an agreement. The victory of the metal workers helped to defeat the military dictatorship in Brazil and marked the origin of modern syndicalism in the country.

Leon Hirszman intended the film as a dialectical synthesis of the metallurgical strike of 1979 and a tool to instigate the workers to think their own political praxis. It was thought as an approach of documentary making and the practice of Marxism, addressing the reflections of the filmmaker on the political cinema in Brazil.


“The coup against Dilma Rousseff was classist and misogynist”
Neyde Lantyer
* Many of the ideas of my text are based on the thoughts of sociologist Jessé Souza.

Location: Cavia Filmhuis
Event by Coletivo Amsterdam pela Democracia e Contra o Golpe no Brasil Amsterdam June 28, 2017


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