RIO DE JANEIRO — At a rally against the Brazilian government on Rio’s Copacabana beach on March 13, Rodrigo Constantino, a 39-year-old right-wing blogger and libertarian think tank director, stood atop a truck draped with a banner emblazoned with the words “Free Brazil Movement,” an anti-Dilma Rousseff group founded after her re-election as president in 2014.
“Good morning patriots. … Enough of communism and enough of collectivism!” he bellowed to the crowd of thousands. “Enough of tolerating indifferent people, these ‘neutrals.’ Neutrality today means support of the Worker’s Party!” The crowd roared in approval.
For months, Constantino has been writing and promoting rallies like this to build support for what, as recently as a year ago, seemed unthinkable but increasingly seems probable: Rousseff’s impeachment. Constantino has gone from a far-right media figure – the author of nine books on topics includingAyn Rand and the global liberal elite, and head of a tiny ultra-right think tank — to a figurehead of a national movement.
Constantino’s ascent has been aided by the country’s swirl of escalating crises. Its economy shrank 3.8 percent in 2015 while members of at least six of Brazil’s political parties, including Rousseff’s ruling Workers’ Party (PT), are under investigation for their alleged connection to the bribery scandal surrounding the state-backed oil company Petrobras.
Rodrigo Constantino responds at his personal blog: “It is with great pride I accept this slightly exaggerated and benevolent comparison from a serious magazine like Foreign Policy.”