5 Years Of Activism In Ireland: Resist To Exist

By Fernanda Otero: https://ferrotero.medium.com/5-anos-de-milit%C3%A2ncia-contra-o-golpe-resistir-para-existir-c948a89ef6c

This is a true story of an activist based in Ireland. All facts and events are real.

It has been 5 years since the coup in Brazil, and I have to share my experience as an activist living in another country. This is also a record of the cooperation between Irish and Brazilians fighting for democracy to build a less divided and less unequal society for all of us, particularly those living in Brazil. My intention is also to help my compatriots awake and encourage them to understand that they can – and should! – get involved and participate (without translators or representatives) wherever they may live and, also, defend democracy in Brazil.

Brazil and Ireland at the Beginning of 2016

For different reasons, Brazil and Ireland in the early months of 2016 were experiencing a time of much social and political upheaval. In Brazil, democracy was being destroyed. In Ireland, it was getting stronger.

In Brazil, with low popularity, former president Dilma Rousseff faced problems in the parliament (especially in the Chamber of Deputies), in conservative sectors of society, and with the business community. Supporters and critics of the government called for national demonstrations.

In Ireland, on the front pages of the newspapers, there were basically two agendas on the headlines: the general election campaign and the Right 2 Water campaign.

Occupied Streets

In Ireland, the campaign for the suspension of water charges was intense and huge. I had the opportunity to take part in a peaceful #Right2Water march with over 100,000 people. Without fully understanding the Irish political system**, I started researching the elections and the name of one of the parties that were running stood out: People Before Profit.

With the great tension and various protests in Brazil, Brazilians diaspora started to organize themselves through social media. In Ireland, there were protests in the City Centre of Dublin against the government and protests supporting Dilma. In defence of democracy and against the coup, about 40 people went to the door of the Brazilian embassy with banners and posters in a rally that had PBP as an important supporter.

As a result of this first action, in March 2016, the group “Dublin pela Esquerda” was born, and I joined other Brazilians in its organization. The group was late called “Brazilian Left Front”.

On April 17th, the coup was consummated after being voted in the Chamber of Deputies. The world turned its eyes* to what had happened in Brazil.

5 Years of Existence and Resistance

Since the first act held in Dublin, the PBP not only showed sympathy to Brazilians situation and struggles but also opened its doors, giving us the opportunity to be heard. People Before Profit members attended to a wide variety of initiatives: meeting at the Brazilian embassy in defence of the demarcation of indigenous lands; meeting to introduce to the migrant community their labour rights; meeting to debate the “2013 June Journey’s” with the participation of Brazilian journalists speaking from Brazil; informative leaflet on the right to abortion for migrant women (written in BrazilianPortuguese); demonstration to denounce the assassination of Marielle Franco; fight for the migrant right to housing and accommodation; demo in defence of Lula’s freedom when he was arrested; a rally for the Stop Bolsonaro world movement; among many, many others.

It has to be mentioned the partnership with United Against Racism, a combative and indispensable partner in the defence of human rights and democracy. The UAR was also present in several demos and protests organised by the community of Brazilians since 2016. We were together last year for the Stop Bolsonaro world movement in late August during Lockdown. I am also a UAR member, and as much as I can, I participate in their actions.

Deliveroo’s Riders

In Brazil, a very successful disinformation campaign spread the idea that unions are only a “deposit of advantages” and their directors are favoured with benefits of all kinds. Part of society has assimilated these concepts, and they now believe that unions have no use and work only for their personal interests. During Temer’s government, trade unions were almost destroyed after the labour reforms.

In Ireland, trade unions have the legitimacy to represent workers protect and defend their rights.

Recently, the PBP Trade Union Department took action in the campaign of Deliverro’s Riders. We went out on the streets to talk to these workers and explain the importance of them being organised within a union, an issue that represents a major cultural difference between the two countries: the importance and legitimacy of a trade union. The PBP attended a few meetings with delivery workers and movement leaders to explain these differences and stepped back when it was officially announced that the SIPTU, Ireland’s largest union, now represents and organises the riders. To conclude this action, we made this video and a leaflet distributed to all party members.

Brazil and Ireland at the First Months of 2021

The story of the impeachment is written, and Rousseff has been declared not guilty of the alleged crimes of disrespecting the budget law and the law of administrative improbity that formed the fundaments of the impeachment process. Even after the impeachment occurred, she never lost her political rights.

Bolsonaro is now facing an Investigative Committee in the Senate and has been denounced in the European parliament for his crimes against humanity.

In the Emerald Isle, because of COVID (or some other hidden reason), the restriction of the right to organize a demonstration or a protest is getting stronger.

Other enormous struggles are coming on the corner for all internationalists. We urgently need to defend broad access to universal vaccination, just as two Latin American leaders have been doing: Pope Francis and Luis Inácio Lula da Silva who now has his political rights restored.

The events and facts narrated here involve two countries separated by an ocean and many miles away. However, the similarities and coincidences between them are so many that Brazilians who arrive on the island don’t want to leave. That’s what happened to me. I know that Ireland, just like Brazil, is a friendly country. It is up to us to find our space and fight for democracy, wherever we are, in any corner of the world. Being a PBP member gave me the confidence to do more and feel part of this society. That is where, in my view, democracy stands.

As the Brazilian poet Caetano Veloso once said, “we have to stay alert and strong” because “we do not have time to fear death.” and the fight continues on social media, on the streets, and everywhere!

*Links to news: The GuardianNew York TimesOpen CanadaIrish Times

Link to the origianl article in Portuguese: https://ferrotero.medium.com/5-anos-de-milit%C3%A2ncia-contra-o-golpe-resistir-para-existir-c948a89ef6c

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