The Workers Party (PT) has not proven its ability – and in many cases not even shown a desire – to respond to the demands of social movements and diverse groups. They have not made any clear effort to enact agrarian reform, protect indigenous lands or impose stricter norms on sectors such as agribusiness or the communication oligopoly. Yet once more, the orthodox core of the Workers Party is singing the same song: “Support us unconditionally, for we are the only alternative to the threat posed by the right.”
During the thirteenth year of the ruling Workers Party (PT) in Brazil – whose position on the ballot sheet is thirteen – the country is going through a situation so ill-fated that no small number of analysts fear the possibility of a coup d’état similar (legal, but illegitimate) to those which recently toppled presidents in Latin American countries with fragile democratic traditions, like Paraguay and Honduras.
Once more – and after an exceptionally brief period, since in the 2014 elections the call to left- leaning voters had a similar tone, given the imminent victory of the opposition party (Brazilian Social Democracy Party, PSDB) – the orthodox core of the PT is singing the same song: “Support us unconditionally, for we are the only alternative to the threat posed by the right.”
It is a fact that the sectors seeking to overthrow the government have alarming perspectives: in various episodes this year, the parliamentary coalition which brings together evangelicals, large landowners (known as ruralistas), supporters of the old dictatorship (these calling for military intervention) and mobsters, all searching for a smoke screen to escape the center of attention (for recent corruption scandals) has shown that its agenda for the country includes serious regressions which would overturn the successes of the 1988 Constitution and impact diverse social sectors ranging from quilombolas to homosexuals.
Yet the current government has not proven its ability – and in many cases not even shown a desire – to respond to the demands of diverse groups whose support the PT members are desperately seeking to recover. The PT has not made any clear effort to enact agrarian reform, protect indigenous lands or impose stricter norms on sectors such as agribusiness or the communication oligopoly.
Many sectors which have historically found in the PT agenda hope that they will at last be attended to by the State are frustrated and without means to dialogue with the government, and, what is even worse, are finding themselves exposed to all types of violence.
The situation of indigenous communities is, in this sense, emblematic. Groups in the Amazon region – an area which represents 98.5% of demarcated indigenous land in the country – are suffering, on one hand, the invasions of lumber and mining sectors, and on the other, the pursuit of large-scale development projects – especially hydroelectric plants. What chance is there that the government will undertake a serious study of the problems and seek to mitigate the impacts when, as has come to light in recent months, many of the companies responsible for these projects were part of a powerful cartel that manipulated prices as it wished for many years and at the same time distributed generous donations to an enormous group of politicians?
Facing abandonment and skepticism, what were indigenous people to do? Resist, putting their very lives at risk. In the north of the country, in the indigenous lands between Pará y Maranhão, various groups are organizing self-defense initiatives to protect their forest areas from greedy loggers who are proliferating due to the complicity of local authorities and a lack of resources to conduct federal environmental inspections; the situation is even more precarious for organizations supporting indigenous communities. In April, Eusebio Ka’apor, an organizer of self-defense and monitoring operations in the indigenous reserve Alto Turiaçu, was assassinated.
As the famous Brazilian saying goes, “é tempo de murici – cada um cuida de si”  (“It’s harvest time, to each his own”): The absence of the government is leading to autonomous organizing. In other regions outside Amazonia – where the major problem for indigenous people is the complete lack of land, since in these areas recent colonization has been far more intense and efforts to protect territory are stalled in the courts – the paralysis of federal power is motivating occupations, setting these communities into conflict with landowners empowered by the economic bonanza that agribusiness has (paradoxically) experienced over the last thirteen years.
Above all, in Mato Grosso do Sul (along the border with Paraguay) in southern Bahía and to the west of Paraná, conflicts have become more and more frequent and violent. Starting at the end of August, in just this one region, at least five attacks took place in a matter of weeks. At the end of August, the Guarani Kaiowá of Nhanderu Marangatu (municipality of Antônio João) occupied plantation offices in a territory of 9,300 hectors which has been in dispute in the courts for ten years.
On August 29, the landowners, with support of parliamentarians and a group of the local political elite, confronted the native people in an attempt to reclaim the land. In the struggle, youth Simeão Vilhalva was killed. After the episode, further attacks were registered in the communities of Guyra Kambyi (Douradina), Pyelito y Mbarakay (Iguatemi) and Potrero Guasu (Paranhos). Dozens of injuries were recorded in these conflicts. In all these areas, the purpose behind the occupation of land is the same: processes of securing land have been held up for years, and the communities, as I once heard an indigenous person in Guerrero, Mexico say, “are tired of being tired”.
The prospects for the near future are more problems and risks for communities across the country. Inspired by rising conservativism in the national political landscape, protofascist sectors are increasingly aggressive. It’s harvest time, time to take care of each other.
Spensy Pimentel is a Brazilian journalist and anthropologist. He has colaborated with independent publications in Brazil such as Caros Amigos, Brasil de Fato, Carta Capital, Retrato do Brasil, among others. He accompanies the Guarani Kaiowa of Mato Grosso do Sul, shares their struggles and their autonomous process.
Addison Woolsey is a translator and student at McGill University which is located on unceded Kanien’kehá:ka land. He studies Latin American and Caribbean Studies and has worked in Oaxaca, Mexico opposing the development of transnational extractivist and energy projects on indigenous land.
 Quilombos were run-away slave communities which began to emerge in the Brazilian interior in the sixteenth century with the expansion of the Atlantic slave trade in Brazil. Their ancestors remained in rural area into the twentieth century and in 1988 these Black peasant communities began to receive land rights and official recognition as quilombolas.
 This expression cannot be translated directly into English. Murici is a fruit found in a dry region of northern Brazil. The expression literally translates as “It’s murici season, everyone takes care of oneself.”