More than a million workers across Brazil took part in protests on 15th March against massive cuts to pensions and social security planned by the deeply unpopular right wing government of Michel Temer.
The protests, organised by a coalition of Brazil’s trade unions along with homeless and landless workers’ movements, indigenous peoples groups and others, were accompanied by one-day strikes by teachers, workers from the metals, oil, transport and public sectors.
Temer, was installed by a parliament riddled with corruption after a political coup against democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff.
The right wing government has launched a brutal programme of cuts targeting workers before a new round of expected corruption cases threatens to bring the government down.
In Sao Paolo, former President Lula da Silva addressed a crowd of 250,000 people, saying “although weak and unrepresentative, Temer has managed to assemble in Congress a political force that no other elected president has achieved. They are determined to impose a social security reform that will practically prevent millions of Brazilians from retiring. Poorer workers, especially in the rural Northeast, will retire with half a minimum wage.”
ITUC President João Felicio said, “On 15th March, Bazilian workers gave a demonstration of strength and courage. They reject these labour and social security reforms, coming from an unpopular and illegitimate government. International Support will continue to be extremely important for the resistance to these reforms, which punish the poorest people.”
Under Temer’s plans, a teacher would need to work 49 years without interruption to receive her full pension, as would agriculture workers. Pensions for politicians and magistrates however would be left untouched.
Lula, is still Brazil’s most popular politician, and is seen as the most potent threat to the Temer government.
Judges supportive of Temer are expected to push ahead with legal action against Lula to stop him standing again for political office.
International human rights lawyers have referred the judicial campaign against Lula, led by populist lower-court judge Sergio Moro, to the UN’s Human Rights Council. Commenting on the move last July, prominent international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson described the judicial persecution of Lula as a “gross violation of the most fundamental right to a fair trial”.
The Temer government is poised to launch further attacks aimed attacking the rights of workers to trade union representation.
This will meet further strong resistance across the country, with the full support of the international trade union movement.
A legal team representing Lula, are in London and will be meeting in the House of Commons on Wednesday March 22nd at 4pm in Committee Room 5.
In a recent interview with The Times, Lula said he was being crucified by a “dictatorship of the elite” attempting to stifle his continuing lead in the opinion polls for the next Presidential election. Lula, explained that to “save the social politics — the politics of inclusion of the poor in the Brazilian economy — I don’t have a single doubt that if it is necessary I will return as candidate for president of the republic.”
The former president, who built his reputation on the world stage by lifting millions out of poverty and raising living standards across Brazil during two terms as president, has faced a sustained campaign against him, even being publicly denounced by a prosecutor. In response to this 'trial by media', the former president and his legal team have referred the case to the UN human rights committee amid concerns that the campaigning state judge Sérgio Moro is also acting as prosecutor and that his disclosures to the media — including the illegal leaking of wiretap evidence — may have prejudiced the case.
This briefing will be a unique chance to hear more about Lula's case, what we can do to offer support, and ask questions.
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