LATIN AMERICA

The business of impeaching Rousseff

Activist entrepreneurs are selling t-shirts to fund protests against the Brazilian leader

One of the anti-Rousseff sweatshirts.
One of the anti-Rousseff sweatshirts.

A São Paulo businessman who says the Workers’ Party (PT) has failed and a publicist who lives off her private income in Mato Grosso (midwest Brazil) –  these are some of the people who have taken advantage of the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff to make money and finance Sunday’s demonstrations. Selling t-shirts for 99 reales ($31) and stickers for 3.50 reales (a little over a dollar), 40-year-old Marcello Reis and 28-year-old Leticia Balaroti are at the forefront of those selling anti-Rousseff merchandise.

Reis is one of the leaders of the movement Revoltados On Line (Indignant Online), an anti-corruption project created on social media. In the last few years, the movement has gained notoriety – and Facebook followers – after challenging the president and associating itself with public figures such as musician Lobão, a fierce critic of the PT who supported Brazilian Socialist Democratic Party (PSDB) candidate Aécio Neves at last October’s presidential elections. In order to finance the necessary infrastructure for large demonstrations – such as loudspeakers that cost around $63,800 –  Reis sells t-shirts, caps, and stickers online.

A black polo shirt, a cap and five stickers will set you back between $56 and $62, depending on the size, while a t-shirt showing a presidential sash and the words “God, Family and Freedom” costs up to $31 plus shipping. “It’s a fair price because it is imported material,” Reis says. “It’s good quality and we do not have our own production house.” He says he had to close down his IT security company because he did not want to participate in the “public sector’s dirty game.”

I am far from being an extremist, much less a Nazi. I am just a political citizen who is against all of this stealing” Entrepreneur Marcello Reis

Reis, who describes himself as non-partisan, was fired from a communications firm two months ago and now works solely for the Revoltados On Line movement. He said he was dismissed because PT congressman Paulo Pimenta accused him of being a neo-Nazi during a protest that eventually shut down sessions in National Congress last year. “He called me a neo-Nazi because I have no hair but I am far from being an extremist, much less a Nazi,” Reis says. “I am just a political citizen who is against all of this stealing.” He now sells anti-Rousseff merchandise day and night and collects signatures online calling for the president to step down.

Other business people who at first sight seem less militant have also picked up on the business opportunities provided by this movement against the president. Online store NM sells pro-impeachment t-shirts for $13 each. NM owners declined to comment on their business for this story.

Translation: Dyane Jean François