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An Open Letter to the People of Brazil

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As I read of the latest coup in Brazil, once again removing a democratically elected leader from power, my anger surged. Not again! However, as I see and read about the ongoing massive protests, as well as calls by prominent community leaders to mobilize in defense of your country’s democracy, I feel great hope for Brazil. Having been a nonviolent activist for many years, I would like to support Brazilian activists to develop a nonviolent strategy that will increase your chances of success.

On 31 August 2016, the Brazilian elite executed a political coup to remove your democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff from office in a desperate attempt to halt corruption investigations in which they are clearly implicated. See ‘Democracy Is Dead in Brazil‘ and ‘The Real Reason Brazil’s Democratically Elected Dilma Rousseff Was Impeached‘.

Behind the scenes, of course, the United States elite was heavily involved. With vast quantities of highly profitable fossil fuels, mineral and forest resources, as well as fresh water at stake, the US elite (and its allied elites) is not going to stand aside while Brazil and BRICS endeavour to create a more just world for at least some of its human inhabitants. See ‘Impeachment of Dilma Rousseff: Brazil’s Parliamentary Coup and the “Progressive Media“‘

Despite what has happened and as your ongoing street protests demonstrate, you know that you do not have to accept this outcome. You also know that you do not have to wait until the 2018 election to register your disapproval of this coup.

In fact, you can reverse this coup and restore the president you first elected in 2010 to finish her current term so that her party can face your judgment in 2018. And this is what Joao Pedro Stedile, a founder and leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil has called on you to do. See ‘MST: Social Movements Must Rise up Against Coup Govt in Brazil

If you do this, you will also have widespread support among your solidarity allies around the world as indicated in this letter: ‘Noam Chomsky, Oliver Stone Sign Letter Against Brazil’s Coup‘.

Given my own support for your right to elect any president of your choice (and to remove them if necessary at a subsequent election), I invite you to consider planning and implementing a nonviolent strategy to remove the coupmakers in your country and restore the president that you elected.

If you are interested in doing so, I have outlined a strategy for removing coupmakers on the website Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy which is a straightforward presentation of the more detailed explanation offered in the book ‘The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach‘.

If you want an idea of the twelve components of strategy that you will need to plan, you can see them on the Nonviolent Strategy Wheel. If you want a taste of how this strategy works (at the tactical level), you will get it by reading ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions‘.

Vitally, the strategic goals need to include mobilizing people in strategically focused ways and causing the police and military to withdraw their support for the coupmakers. It will usefully include causing key local and foreign corporations to withdraw their support too. This would usually include corporations involved in the weapons industry, the mainstream media, banks and the resource extraction of fossil fuels, strategic minerals, forest products and fresh water. To make it clear, I have listed a provisional set of strategic goals that you might consider modifying as appropriate below.

Of course, as suggested above, you will need a comprehensive strategy and it might take some time to plan and then fully implement.

However, if you do plan and implement a comprehensive strategy, you have every chance of reversing this coup with minimal loss of life. For example, the article ‘Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression‘ identifies 20 things that you can do to minimize the risk that your mobilizations will be violently repressed. This article was written after a careful study, throughout history, of nonviolent mobilizations that were met with extreme violence.

Suggested Strategic Goals in a Nonviolent Strategy to Liberate Brazil

Strategic goals that would usually be appropriate for resisting a political or military coup include those listed below although, it should be noted, the list would be considerably longer as individual organizations should be specified separately.

Of course, individual groups resisting the coup would usually accept responsibility for focusing their work on achieving just one or two of the strategic goals. It is the responsibility of the struggle’s strategic leadership to ensure that each of the strategic goals, which should be identified and prioritized according to your precise understanding of the circumstances in Brazil, is being addressed.

(1) To cause the women in [women’s organizations WO1, WO2, WO…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities]. For example, simple nonviolent actions would be to wear a national symbol (such as a badge of your national flag or ribbons in the national colors), to boycott all corporate media outlets supporting the coup and/or to withdraw all funds from banks supporting the coup. For this item and many items hereafter, see the list of possible actions you can take here: ‘198 Tactics of Nonviolent Action‘.

(2) To cause the workers in [trade unions or labor organizations T1, T2, T…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities]. For example, this might include withdrawing their labor from an elite-controlled or foreign-owned bank/corporation operating in Brazil.

(3) To cause the small farmers and farmworkers in [organizations F1, F2, F…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(4) To cause the members of [religious denominations R1, R2, R…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(5) To cause the members of [ethnic communities EC1, EC2, EC…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(6) To cause the activists, artists, musicians, intellectuals and other key social groups in [organizations O1, O2, O…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(7) To cause the students in [student organizations S1, S2, S…] in Brazil to join the liberation strategy by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(8) To cause the soldiers in [military units M1, M2, M…] to refuse to obey orders from the coupmakers to arrest, assault, torture and shoot nonviolent activists and the other citizens of Brazil.

(9) To cause the police in [police units P1, P2, P…] to refuse to obey orders from the coupmakers to arrest, assault, torture and shoot nonviolent activists and the other citizens of Brazil.

(10) To cause businesspeople who conduct small businesses in [organizations SB1, SB2, SB…] in Brazil to refuse to cooperate with the coupmakers by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(11) To cause businesspeople who operate multinational franchises in [organizations MF1, MF2, MF…] in Brazil to refuse to cooperate with the coupmakers by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(12) To cause businesspeople who manage local branches of large multinational corporations in [organizations MNC1, MNC2, MNC…] in Brazil to refuse to cooperate with the coupmakers by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(13) To cause large farmers and ranchers in [organizations FO1, FO2, FO…] in Brazil to refuse to cooperate with the coupmakers by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(14) To cause the foreign managers and technical workers [working for resource extraction corporations X1, X2, X…] who are from [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to withdraw from Brazil.

(15) To cause the workers [in trade union or labor organizations T4, T5, T…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to interrupt the supply of military weapons to Brazil.

(16) To cause the workers in [trade unions or labor organizations T7, T8, T…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to interrupt the transport of [military personnel/military weapons] to Brazil.

(17) To cause the workers in [trade unions or labor organizations T10, T11, T…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by refusing to handle [a particular resource] extracted and exported from Brazil.

(18) To cause the workers [in trade unions or labor organizations T13, T14, T…] working in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(19) To cause the women in [women’s organizations WO4, WO5, WO…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(20) To cause the members of [religious denominations R4,R5, R…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(21) To cause the solidarity activists in [activist organizations A1, A2, A…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(22) To cause the members of [your exile communities E1, E2, E…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

(23) To cause the students in [students organizations S4, S5, S…] in [the United States and other relevant countries where the elite supports the coupmakers in Brazil] to support your liberation struggle by participating in [your nominated nonviolent action(s)/campaign(s) and/or constructive program activities].

In the struggle to make this world the place of peace, justice and environmental sustainability that it could be, the people of Brazil have been playing an inspirational role. You do not need to let this coup be more than a temporary setback. You also have solidarity allies around the world and many of us are willing to assist you, if you decide to let us play a role too.

For the liberation of Brazil; Robert

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