Written by Felipe Bianchi
The 2016 Olympics will happen in hard times for Brazilians. Interim trustee, Michel Temer has sat upon the presidential chair after a coup d’Etat endorsed by corporate media and the judicial system, removing Dilma Rousseff, who was elected president by the democratic choice of 54 million people. The coup also brought to power the most conservative forces in Brazilian politics. That’s the reason why the scenario of Rio-16 may be not only hot because of the Olympic flame, but also because of massive protests which should take place in Rio to denounce the situation.
Controlled by seven families who form the information oligopoly in the country, the corporate media, committed to the coup process, have been distorting and ignoring the struggle for democracy. This barrage led several media collectives and counter-hegemonic vehicles to organize a collaborative coverage of the political demonstrations during the games. The idea of these groups is to attract the attention of international media by bringing to light to what’s really happening in the country, despite the tremendous efforts from the media barons and the provisional government to stifle dissenting voices.
To contribute in this important task, the Alternative Media Center of Studies “Barão de Itararé” is engaged on a multilingual coverage of the acts against Michel Temer and the coup protagonists. Reference in the struggle for the democratization of communication and made up of journalists, intellectuals, digital activists and social movement leaders, the organization will provide content in Portuguese, English, Spanish, French, Russian, Italian and German.
The series will be published on Barão de Itararé’s website (www.baraodeitarare.org.br) and spread on Facebook (www.facebook.com/baraomidia) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/cbaraodeitarare). #ForaTemerRio2016 is the hashtag that will label the publications. Reproduction is free, as long as the source is mentioned.
Temer attacks freedom of speech
One of the most symbolic cases that represents the offensive of this provisional government towards freedom of speech is the attempt to dismantle the incipient public communication system. “Brazil is a beginner when it comes to public media. We have always strictly followed the United States commercial model”, says Renata Mielli, coordinator of the National Forum for the Democratization of Communication (FNDC). “Our democracy has suffered, for decades, from the absence of public communication capable of reporting other points of view on facts, reflecting the regional, cultural and political diversity of our population”.
The problem, as Mielli explains, is that the coup does not get along with media diversity. “It’s impossible to consolidate an illegal process if you have resistance and questioning in the media”, she warns. “So EBC, a public enterprise linked to the Brazilian state, suffered an intervention from the new government, which illegally named a new director, changing the course of the project”. Justice has annulled the measure (the one and only judicial defeat imposed on Temer up to now), but the government is willing to carry out a law altering the public character of EBC.
About the Olympics, Renata Mielli considers that it’s journalistic coverage has two different dimensions: the following of the competition, for sure, but also the observation of what’s going on outside the sports arena. “To produce content bringing the political context to the surface is mandatory to overcome the information siege. This event was conceived during a period of affirmation of brazilian people sovereignty and capacity, but now occurs in a moment of regression. The world will only understand it if there is another narrative on the facts”.
Silencing the dissent
Another measure taken by Temer even before Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment is complete – the Senate should make the definitive voting right after the end of the Olympics - gives the exact dimension of the coup’s iron fist against diversity of opinion and ideas. The Presidential Secretariat of Social Communication (Secom), responsible for defining the criteria to distribute official advertising funds, broke all the contracts celebrated with progressive blogs and media vehicles.
Altamiro Borges, president of the Barão de Itararé, defends that the sharing criteria is historically undemocratic. “The promotion of counter-hegemonic media is a real debt of the Brazilian governments, since these actors have always received too little money, while the families which dominate the media bite almost the whole of this cake. Committed to the coup, these rich families may now devour it entirely”, says.
Author of Blog do Miro, the journalist criticizes Temer’s attitude of suspending the budget to alternative media. For him, the concentration scenario will get worse. “As Temer breaks the contracts, he exposes his intolerance on freedom of speech and clearly states that this government will not allow dissent”, evaluates Borges.
Rio-2016 and the social movements
With the world’s lens turned to Brazil, popular movements promise to occupy Rio de Janeiro streets to reverberate and denounce the coup d’Etat that’s going on. On August 4, eve of the ceremonial opening of the games, Frente Brasil Popular and Frente Povo Sem Medo are participating in a media conference with the international press. These groups bring together the most important social movements from the country.
The biggest act of these movements will take place at Copacabana, on august 5, starting at 11 am. The banner to be raised by the movements is the following: “Fora Temer! Nenhum direito a menos! Contra a calamidade olímpica!” (“Temer out! Not a single right less! Against the Olympic calamity!”).