IN THIS SPECIAL EDITION:
French Teachers Wage Historic Nationwide Strike on January 13 Against Unsafe Return to Classrooms
Direct Report from Kazakhstan: Workers Rise Up Against a Corrupt Regime – A Dossier
Palestine Dossier and Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism
Report from Brazil: Bolsonaro Out Now! For a Workers’ Government
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French Teachers Wage Historic Nationwide Strike Against Unsafe Return to Classrooms
Hundreds of thousands of French teachers angry with the government’s COVID-19 rules and failed healthcare policies walked off the job on Thursday, January 13, in what has been characterized widely as a “historic strike.” They took to the streets to demand better protection for pupils and staff against infection.
Reuters reported on the massive strike as follows:
“‘Stop your contempt,” teachers proclaimed on banners in rallies across France, calling for the government to provide them with FFP2 face-masks and to stop changing the rules so often. Many at the rallies called for the resignation of Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.
“Infections have surged in schools as France has set records with close to 370,000 new daily cases.
“Unions said that 75% of teachers in primary schools and 62% in high schools nationwide walked out. … The pandemic has put the spotlight on a policy of drastic staff reduction in public education,’ teacher Laurence Fourteuil said at the Paris rally.
“‘It’s not against the virus that we’re on strike [as Blanquer accused –Tr. Note]. We are on strike against policies that are already attempting to squeeze staff.’”
The day after the strike, La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers Tribune), the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France, published a Special Strike Supplement. We are reprinting below the editorial of this supplement by Daniel Gluckstein.
- The Editors
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La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers’ Tribune) Issue No. 322 supplement – 14 January 2022
Out with Macron-Blanquer and their policy!
No “national unity” with the government!
By Daniel Gluckstein
Regarding the powerful teachers’ strike on 13 January, capitalist daily newspaper Les Échos referred to an “unprecedented day of mobilisation”. This is true: unprecedented in terms of the number of strikers, in terms of the unity of all the trade union organisations that called for it, and also in terms of the fact that all teaching groups up to the highest level were called out.
The Education Ministry may have halved the number of strikers in its statements, but no one is fooled.
Education Minister Blanquer himself, usually so arrogant and contemptuous, is displaying unexpected humility. Going so far as to admit having committed “errors”, he described the movement as a “strike against the virus” and declared before the Senate: “Either we want to create controversy …, or we are looking for national unity around our school system.”
A strike against the virus? No, a strike against the policy of the Macron-Castex-Véran-Blanquer (1) government. Which the government had to acknowledge in its own way: receiving union representatives the same day, it tried to defuse the mobilisation by making a show of intending to respond to the demands.
What did it announce? Measures on FFP2 masks, the postponement of tests and evaluations planned for the coming weeks and the recruitment of 3,300 contract staff “for the coming period”, 1,500 teaching assistants and 1,500 part-time non-contractual administrative assistants.
When these announcements were made, many teachers said to themselves: “This is not what we want, but it is not nothing.” It is true that it’s not nothing: for example, the recruitment of 3,300 contract staff would correspond to the 3,000 secondary level teachers that are missing in the Academy of Créteil (2) alone. But… it’s not just the secondary level, there is also the primary level. And then…it’s not just the Academy of Créteil, it’s all the Academies… And then, as the saying goes…promises only commit those who want to believe them…
Although they bear no relation to what is really needed, the measures that have been announced do have a political significance: the government was forced to make a number of announcements because of the mobilisation. So, what happens now? Should we go along with Blanquer’s call for “national unity around our school system”?
“We have noted a change of tone in the way we are being addressed”, said the General Secretary of the biggest secondary teachers’ union as she left the meeting with Blanquer, adding: “It’ll take more than three hours of discussion to restore the trust that has been damaged in this way; there are some signals, but we will need more.” Was the aim of the massive strike on 13 January to “restore the damaged trust” between Blanquer and the teachers? This is undoubtedly Blanquer’s wish as he calls for national unity. But national unity is something that teachers, like all workers, have been experiencing for two years now. And they are paying a high price for it.
On 19 March 2020, the National Assembly unanimously voted through 343 billion euros for the capitalists. After speeches by Rabault on behalf of the Socialist Party (“The state guarantee that you are proposing is a good thing”), Roussel for the Communist Party (“We will support the bill (…) because the measures it contains are a move in the right direction”) and Mélenchon for France Unbowed (“We will vote for your document as it is (…) because we don’t want to block anything”), the Macronist President of the Assembly had concluded: “We are showing national unity and a National Union by voting unanimously for this document.” Finance Minister Le Maire had chipped in: “National unity will be our strength.”
Two years later, the ravages of “national unity” are still evident. The 343 billion, which became 600 billion, are being used by the capitalists to lay people off, cut jobs and restructure businesses. What is more, this misappropriation of public funds has financially strangled the public school system as well as the public hospitals, public services, social housing, etc.
So no, the mobilisation on 13 January should not and cannot lead to any form of “national unity”! United action by the workers and their organisations on the specific demands that have been established jointly can force the Macron-Blanquer-Castex-Véran government to back down even further, in the area of schools as in all areas.
But even in this case, this government remains and will remain the tool of the class of exploiters, profiteers and speculators. No consensus is possible with it. The whole situation calls for the confiscation of the 600 billion gifted for speculation.
This is the meaning of the struggle engaged by the Democratic Independent Workers’ Party (POID) for a government that will serve the interests of the majority, a government of the working people in defence of schools, public services and youth. It is to pave the way for such an outcome that the POID is convening the 22 January rally in Paris.
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(1) Translator’s note: Respectively, President of the Republic, Prime Minister, Health Minister and Education Minister.
(2) Translator’s note: The academic region of Île-de-France (north-central France) comprises the Academies of Paris, Versailles and Créteil. The Academy of Creteil is the country’s second biggest in terms of number of students, employing 75,000 staff. The Academy system administers education from primary level, through secondary to further/vocational and university levels.
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Kazakhstan Workers Rise Up Against a Corrupt Regime
[Note: The following articles are reprinted from the weekly newsletter published by the International Workers Committee (IWC). They appeared originally in La Tribune des Travailleurs (Workers Tribune), published by the Democratic Independent Workers Party (POID) of France.]
The doubling of the price of a liter [quarter of a gallon] of gas at the end of December was the last straw. As early as 2 January, in the industrial west of this former Soviet republic, the population – with the working class on the front lines – got together and set out their demands.
In the days that followed, workers at the mining and hydrocarbon companies went on strike one after the other. The government – destabilized and alternating bloody repression and measures supposed to appease popular anger – called on Putin’s regime in Russia to send in special repression forces. At the time of this writing, no one knows what will happen to this massive revolt. One thing is certain: despite 30 years of Mafia-style privatisations, of anti-working-class repression led by the former party leaders of the Soviet bureaucracy who sold the country to the multinationals, the working class of the former USSR is standing up and fighting back.
From our correspondents
Since 2 January, workers and residents of the Manguistau region (in western Kazakhstan) have been holding massive rallies for the cancellation of the doubling of gas prices, but also for higher wages and better working conditions. On 3 and 4 January, new demonstrators strengthened the rallies, and similar demonstrations took place in other regions, in the cities of Atyrau, Astana, Aktyube, Almaty and Uralsk.
In Janaozen and Aktaou, where it all started, protesters set up tents and yurts in the central squares, indicating that they intended to stay. There was a politicisation of the speeches: in addition to chanting “Gas at 50 tengue!” (the national currency), young people are increasingly shouting “Shal ket!” (Go away, old man!) – a chant addressed to Janaozen’s executioner, former President Nazarbaev.
In the villages of the Manguistau district, oil workers and residents have been holding street meetings. The population provides food to the protesters and has collected more than one million tengue for the strikers.
On hearing that military planes carrying special forces had arrived, the workers blocked the regional airport. Everyone remembers the Janaozen massacre (see Background Information below).
Worried by the turn of events, the presidential administration tried to appease the protesters, by promising to lower the price of gas from 120 to 90 tengués.
But at the rally in Aktaou, the leader of an independent trade union, Amin Yeleousinov (imprisoned in 2017 after a rigged trial), called on the assembled workers to reject this handout. Everywhere, in factories and demonstrations, nobody believes President Tokayev’s explanations. Especially since the senior officials of the regional akimats (councils) themselves say that they cannot influence the price of gas and fuel.
So the “preventive” arrests of activists have begun in an attempt to prevent mass gatherings. Because the official statements made people even angrier.
The movement started with a protest against the doubling of the price of gas, and then the workers’ collectives took the opportunity to make their demands: a 100% wage increase, the cancellation of deregulation measures and an old demand: freedom to form independent trade unions.
in the Karaganda region in the east of the country, In the mines, the workers’ collectives started to join the protests, striking one after the other. On 3 January, the strike was general in the Manguistaou region. On the 4th, it spread to the neighbouring region of Atyraou, where workers are very worried about the announced waves of layoffs. Already in December, 30,000 workers were laid off under the pretext of the slowdown in mining activities, which are expected to run out by 2030.
On 4 January, 75% of the oil workers in Tengizchevroil (who work for a U.S. company) went on strike. They were joined later in the day by oil workers from the Aktiobe and Kyzylorda regions.
On the evening of 4 January, the strike extended to miners at ArcelorMittal Temirtaou and to smelters and copper miners at the Kazakhmys company. Again, the demands are for higher wages, a lower retirement age, the right to form unions and the right to strike.
On 4 January, an open-ended strike began in Atyrau, Uralsk, Aktyubinsk, Kyzylorda, Taraz, Taldykorgan, Turkestan, Shymkent, Ekibastuz and Almaty (Alma-Ata in Russian, the former capital), where demonstrators temporarily stormed the akimat (city council). This was the pretext for the president to declare a state of emergency.
At the same time, he dismissed the entire government and symbolically “dismissed” former President Nazarbaev from the National Security Council. But these announcements did not put an end to the protests.
On 5 January, the protest reached the northern and eastern districts of Kazakhstan: Petropavlovsk, Pavlodar, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Semipalatinsk. On the same day, in Aktobe, Taldykorgan, Shymkent and Almaty, protesters tried to storm the buildings of regional akimats (councils).
In Janaozen, the epicentre of the mobilisation, the workers in the rallies formulated new demands: resignation of the president and all the dignitaries of the regime, restoration of the 1993 Constitution, freedom to form parties and trade unions, release of political prisoners and an end to repression. There are also attempts on the ground to create committees and councils to coordinate the struggle.
In the province of Manguistaou, the mobilisation has remained peaceful: the soldiers refused to disperse the demonstrators. But in the “southern capital” (Almaty), from the night of 5 to 6 January, special forces were deployed to “clean up” the airport and the neighbourhoods occupied by the demonstrators – especially in Almaty, where the workers are less concentrated and where the forces of the “liberal” opposition and religious and nationalist groups are trying to play their own game.
The repression is brutal. The Almaty police announced: “Last night, extremist forces tried to storm administrative buildings, the Almaty city police department, as well as local departments and police stations. Dozens of attackers were eliminated.” Dozens of demonstrators are reportedly already dead. As it did in Janaozen in December 2011, the regime has cut off the entire internet and telephone network, making direct communication impossible.
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Excerpts from an appeal by the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan (SDK)*:
“There is a great risk that all protests and strikes will be violently repressed. It is therefore urgent to form committees of unity of action in companies as well as in localities to structure an organised resistance to the military-police terror. We also need the support of the whole international workers’ and communist movements. …
“Immediate end to the repression against the people and withdrawal of the troops!
“Resignation of all those responsible for the Nazarbaev regime, including the president!
“Release of all political prisoners!
“Right to form our own trade unions and parties; right to strike and assembly!
“Legalization of the activities of the banned Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan!
“We call on all workers in the country to take up the demand of the oil workers murdered in Zhanaozen (in 2011 ed.): nationalisation, under the control of labour collectives, of the entire mining and oil industry in the country!”
January 5, 2022.
* An organisation claiming to be of and for the workers and socialism.
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Excerpts from a statement by supporters in Russia of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International (OCRFI)
“The struggle of the workers of Kazakhstan is our struggle! …
“The main reason for the discontent is the ruling class alliance of oligarchs, Mafiosi and bureaucrats, many of whom come from the Soviet nomenklatura, including Nazarbaev himself, Janaozen’s executioner. For thirty years they have been plundering State property and destroying the conquests of the October Revolution. With their antisocial and anti-worker policy, this gang is picking the pockets of the workers of Kazakhstan every day and has never hesitated to respond to the discontent of the workers with police clubs. And even to massacre them, as was the case during the strike of oil workers in Janaozen in 2011. …
“The struggle of the workers of Kazakhstan has an international content. It is a revolt against the consequences of the crisis of the capitalist system based on private ownership of the means of production. The struggle of the workers of Kazakhstan is the struggle of the workers of all countries! We, the Russian supporters of the OCRFI, express our unconditional solidarity with the mobilisation of the workers of Kazakhstan in the struggle for their rights.”
January 6, 2022
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Background Information Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is the largest ex-Soviet republic in Central Asia. Its 20 million inhabitants represent a multi-ethnic population (Kazakhs, Russians, Ukrainians and also the descendants of peoples deported by Stalin: Volga Germans, Tatars, Koreans, etc.).
The working class
The working class is concentrated in gigantic hydrocarbon extraction companies and in the mines, privatised in the 1990s for the benefit of large U.S. and European multinationals.
The Janaozen massacre
Throughout 2011, thousands of oil workers in the west of the country went on strike for recognition of their independent union, rejecting the old State-integrated union. On 16 December 2011, police shot at strikers in the town of Janaozen, killing over 70 people. In the following 10 years, a new law de-legalised dozens of trade unions, but was unable to prevent the development of strikes.
First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and member of the political bureau of the CP of the Soviet Union, Nursultan Nazarbayev became President of independent Kazakhstan in 1991. Suppressing all opposition with an iron fist, he literally sold the country to the foreign multinationals. Replaced in 2019 by one of his close friends, Tokayev, he remains president of the National Security Council.
… and his friends
The following people all flocked to Nazarbaev’s house for the greater interest of their multinationals: Obama, Sarkozy, Hollande and Macron, but also the former British “socialist” Prime Minister Tony Blair, who became a “special adviser” to the president of Kazakhstan.
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• Agreement to Free Palestinian Political Prisoner Abu Hawash
• Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism – by Alan Benjamin
• On Zionism – by Ben Ehrenreich
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Agreement to Free Palestinian Political Prisoner Abu Hawash
As we go to press, we’ve just learned that the State of Israel has agreed to release Palestinian political prisoner Hisham Abu Hawash, who has been held on false charges in “administrative detention.”
Abu Hawash’s attorney called it a “victory,” given that the regime of “administrative detention” allows the authorities to prolong indefinitely and without any justification all those detained in this manner. Abu Hawash is scheduled to be released on February 26.
When the agreement was reached, Abu Hawash was in the 146th day of his hunger strike to demand his release and to protest against the arbitrary regime of “administrative detention.” The Red Cross warned that he was in a “critical condition” that could soon lead to his death. His detention and hunger strike provoked popular demonstrations throughout Palestine demanding his release. Among the many protesters were the hundreds of students from Birzeit University, near Ramallah, who gathered on January 3.
Many of those demonstrating did not mince words when they excoriated Mahmoud Abbas – the head of the Palestinian Authority established by the Oslo Accords in 1993 – who met officially with Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz at a time when the Israeli government was forcing Abu Hawash to die a slow death.
B’Tselem, the main Israeli human rights organization, had issued a statement in support of freeing Abu Hawash:
“A dying man cannot represent any danger – especially since it has never been proven that the prisoner himself represented any danger. On the other hand, the members of the Israeli government, the officers, the judges and the prison guards who imprison hundreds of Palestinians without trial are truly dangerous. … His hunger strike is a protest against his administrative detention, i.e., indefinite imprisonment without trial.”
Clearly, the Israeli authorities feared that Abu Hawash’s death while in prison would provoke an eruption of anger and mobilizations among the Palestinian people. Hence, the agreement between the Israeli State and Abu Hawash’s attorney.
Abu Hawash was accused, without any proof, of being a member of the Islamic Jihad. He faced the exceptional regime of “administrative detention,” which is meted out today to 500 of the 4,550 Palestinian prisoners. These are prisoners whose defense attorneys do not have access to the documents communicated to the judge. They are prisoners who can remain in administrative detention for years, without ever knowing why.
The ORGANIZER Weekly Newsletter salutes this victory and joins all those around the world who are demanding the immediate release of all victims of “administrative detention” in the Apartheid State of Israel.
- The Editors
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Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism
By Alan Benjamin
On February 20, 2019, in a speech delivered to Jewish leaders, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he would be introducing a new law that defines anti-Zionism as “a form of anti-Semitism” and that makes anti-Zionism punishable by law. In addition, denial of the State of Israel’s right to exist would be made a “crime offense.”
Macron’s statement became a topic of heated debate across France at a time when there was a surge of anti-Semitic attacks, including the desecration of 154 graves with swastikas at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France.
On December 4, 2019, the controversial law linking anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism was adopted by the French National Assembly by a very narrow margin, in a virtually empty parliament. Opponent of the legislation complained that the law conflates anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
Following a lengthy and heated discussion, 154 MPs voted in favor of the legislation, with 72 against. Many parliamentarians chose to leave before the vote on the controversial law. There were 550 deputies present for the earlier vote on the social security budget.
Fewer than one third of ruling party members supported the new law, with 26 voting against, and 22 abstaining.
The French law accepts the controversial definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA):
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
That definition makes no reference to anti-Zionism, but the examples that accompany the definition explain that “any unfair treatment of the State of Israel, demanding behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” is regarded as unacceptable.
Hundreds of prominent French Jewish intellectuals actively campaigned against the law, saying it runs the risk of “criminalizing ideas” without doing anything to fight racism.
Daniel Gluckstein, editor of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID), wrote an extended commentary that was published in the February 27, 2019, issue of their newsweekly. [See “Some Thoughts on Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism” – which was posted on March 9, 2019 to our website.]
In this issue of The Organizer Weekly Newsletter, we are publishing major excerpts from an essay titled “On Zionism” by free-lance journalist Ben Ehrenreich. The essay appeared in the Los Angeles Times on March 15, 2009. This piece is of great relevance today, as the Israeli lobby across the United States is stepping up its “anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism” rhetoric in its quest to silence any and all criticism of the Israeli State.
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by Ben Ehrenreich
It’s hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht and three years after the earliest deportations of German Jews, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with “the concept of a racial state – the Hitlerian concept.” For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times, helped draft the American Council for Judaism’s core principles in 1943, including its explicit rejection of “the effort to found a Jewish National State in Palestine.”
Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not an uncommon or particularly heretical position: assimilated Reform Jews like Rosenwald and Sulzberger believed that Judaism should remain a matter of religious rather than political allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish statehood as an impious attempt to “push the hand of God”; and Marxist Jews – my grandparents among them – tended to see Zionism, and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential struggle between classes.
The Nazi genocide and the millennia of oppression that preceded it did not entitle us, I was taught to believe, to a homeland or grant the Jews a right to self-defense that superseded anyone else’s.
For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite or worse. To question not just Israel’s actions, but the Zionist tenets upon which the Israeli state is founded, has for too long been regarded an almost unspeakable blasphemy.
At the same time, Israel has too-comfortably taken on the role of the oppressor, imagining itself a David while playing Goliath. It is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of individual Israeli policies, or of specific leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to a politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to genocide. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.
It has been argued before that Zionism is an anachronism, a leftover ideology from the era of 19th century romantic nationalisms wedged uncomfortably into the realities of 21st century geopolitics. This is true enough – the Zionist equation between Jewish identity and statehood was born from the same intellectual currents that gave birth to the German and Italian nationalist movements. We know where those led.
But Zionism is not merely outdated. Even before 1948, one of its basic oversights was readily apparent: the presence of Palestinians in Palestine. That was sufficient to lead some of the most prominent Jewish thinkers of the last century, many of them Zionists, to balk at the idea of Jewish statehood. The Brit Shalom movement – founded in 1925 and supported at various times by Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Gershom Sholem – argued for a Jewish presence in Palestine under the framework of a secular state in which Jews and Arabs would be accorded equal status. Their concerns were both moral and pragmatic. The establishment of a Jewish state, Buber feared, would mean “premeditated national suicide.”
The fate Buber foresaw is upon us: a nation that has lived in a state of war for decades, a quarter million Arab citizens with second-class status and more than five million Palestinians deprived of the most basic political and human rights. If two decades ago comparisons to the South African Apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel charitable. The white South African regime, for all its crimes, never attacked the Bantustans with anything like the destructive power Israel visited on Gaza in December and January, when 1,300 Palestinians were killed, one third of them children.
The consequences of Zionism have been more difficult to deny since the Gaza invasion. Criticisms that once were muted have grown bold; questions that once were unutterable are now asked openly. Deprived of any moral ground to answer from, the defenders of Israeli state violence are growing shrill. UCLA professor Judea Pearl recently told an Israeli internet news site that it is not anti-Semitism that worries him, “but another, more dangerous epidemic, one called anti-Zionism.”
Pearl’s characterization of anti-Zionism as an “epidemic” more dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the position into which Israel’s apologists have been forced. Faced with international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to erect walls that delineate what can and can’t be said.
It’s not working. On college campuses around the country, students and professors are organizing a divestment campaign modeled on the movement that helped pressure the South African government to end Apartheid in the early 1990s. It shouldn’t matter, but many of them are Jews. Their goals and principles are neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. They require only that we take our own values seriously.
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Bolsonaro Out! For a Workers’ Government!
(reprinted from Issue No. 24 – November 2021 – of The Internationale, the theoretical magazine of the OCRFI)
By Anisio G. Homem
This article aims to shed light on the political situation in Brazil, addressing what we believe are the central elements for deepening an urgent and necessary dialogue between labour and youth activists. It is undeniable that we are facing a serious social crisis, fueled by the Bolsonaro government in the name of national and international capitalist interests, in particular the financial markets and US imperialism.
In this article we do not pretend to exhaust the subject, nor to go into all the questions submitted for debate. We hope that this text can both provide information to the readers of The Internationale in the various countries of the world and become a contribution towards forging common actions in the class struggle in Brazil.
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Poverty is growing, as is the rejection of Bolsonaro
Scenes of hungry and desperate people picking up discarded beef bones from a butcher shop in Rio de Janeiro have shocked the country and the world. Another scene, a few days later, shows women intercepting a garbage truck outside a supermarket in an upscale neighbourhood of Fortaleza (Ceará), looking for food scraps. It is a portrait of the growing poverty that is the daily lot of some Brazilians.
An article on the website of the CUT trade union confederation points out: “Today, Brazil has nearly 20 million people who sometimes go hungry for 24 hours or more and 24.5 million who do not know how they will feed themselves on a daily basis, according to a survey by the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food and Nutritional Security (Rede Penssan).”
Even daily newspaper Folha de São Paulo, which is linked to big capital, revealed in an article published on 13 October:
“Although Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of soya, meat and corn, these products have become commodities whose prices are traded in dollars, the currency in which many wealthier Brazilians have sought refuge in this period of political, economic and fiscal uncertainty, thus contributing to crushing the exchange rate of the real.”
The problem is clear: they are speculating with the food that is missing from the table of a proportion of the Brazilian people. During the latest demonstrations under the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro!” (Bolsonaro, Out!), which took place across the country on 2 October, many banners and placards denounced the soaring prices of food and fuel. Other banners were raised against the administrative counter-reform that destroys public services, against the privatisation of the Post Office and the public electricity company Eletrobras, etc.
In many demonstrations, leaders of the Oil Workers’ Union participated with their own contingents and distributed leaflets denouncing the increase in fuel and cooking gas prices as a consequence of the government’s policy that favours the huge speculative profits of international private share-holders, who have just pocketed, in August this year, around 31 billion reais (equivalent to US$5.44 billion or 4.84 billion euros) in dividends.
According to the rally organisers, some 700,000 demonstrators took part in the demonstrations on 2 October in more than 200 cities in the country and abroad. This time, it was not only the trade union centres, popular movements and political parties claiming to stand for the working class, such as the PT, PSOL, PCdoB, PCO and PSTU, but also right-wing parties such as DEM, PSDB, PSD, PSL, NOVO, which formally called for these demonstrations. All of them are participating in the so-called “Broad Front” against Bolsonaro.
In reality, the call by these right-wing parties to demonstrate did not add a single participant to the protests. In an interview with TV 247 on 2 October, Aloizio Mercadante, one of Lula’s former ministers and President of the PT’s Perseu Abramo Foundation, was forced to admit it: “the most serious thing is that [these parties] have not broken with [Bolsonaro’s Finance Minister] Paulo Guedes, who was Pinochet’s economic adviser and who introduced this authoritarian neo-liberalism (…) A party like the DEM is in government, the PSDB too.” In practice, in the National Congress (parliament) the right wing representing big capital continues to vote for Bolsonaro’s counter-reforms in the interests of the financial markets and the business world.
This is what happened recently in the Special Committee of the Chamber of Deputies that examined the PEC 32 Bill for the destruction of public services and the so-called “PEC dos Precatórios” (a draft constitutional amendment on the debts of the Federal Republic recognised by the justice system), which allows the Republic not to honour the 89 billion reais (equivalent to US$15.62 or 13.90 billion euros) certified by court decisions establishing the right of civil servants and small suppliers to receive what is due to them. CUT President Wagner Freitas said in his speech at the demonstration on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo on 2 October: “Every day that Bolsonaro remains in government means more poverty, more unemployment and more deaths. There is no more important task for us workers than to end this genocidal government that is exterminating the future and dreams of the Brazilian working class.”
Fernando Haddad, former Workers’ Party (PT) candidate in the October 2018 presidential election, went on to say: “The elections are a year away. Ask the people in the suburbs, the people in the countryside, the unemployed, the high school students left behind (1) if it is possible to wait another year to end this nightmare. It is not possible!”
On 3 October, the day after the “Fora Bolsonaro!” protests, it was revealed that Finance Minister Paulo Guedes is involved in the so-called “Pandora Papers” scandal. He, like the country’s leading businessmen and bankers, has an offshore account in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands, currently worth 50 million reais (equivalent to US$8.76 million or 7.81 million euros). Guedes’s off-shore account, which is supposedly forbidden to senior government officials, has grown by 14 million reais (equivalent to US$2.46 million or 2.19 million euros) in recent years due to the “strong dollar” monetary policy he himself is pushing as head of the Finance Ministry. Meanwhile, the “strong dollar” is impoverishing the workers and the Brazilian people.
The Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) on COVID and the end of the “Fora Bolsonaro!” protests
On 26 October, the final report of the Parliamentary Investigation Commission (CPI) of the Senate of the Republic, which was created on 13 April and which investigated the actions of the Bolsonaro government during the pandemic, was approved by 7 votes to 4. So far, Covid-19 has killed more than 610,000 Brazilians.
The report calls for the President of the Republic to be indicted for nine crimes. It also calls for the indictment of 65 other people (including the President’s three sons, government ministers and former ministers) as well as two companies, for crimes committed in connection with the coronavirus pandemic. Bolsonaro is accused of the following crimes: epidemic resulting in death; lack of preventive health measures; incitement to crime; falsification of private documents; charlatanism; prevarication; crime of responsibility; irregular use of public funds; and finally, crimes against humanity.
The rapporteur withdrew the crimes of “genocide” and “homicide” from the report due to disagreements with the Commission Chair.
The nine crimes Bolsonaro is accused of would, if convicted, earn him a sentence of 38 years and 9 months in prison under the Brazilian penal code. The charge of crimes against humanity also allows for referral to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The report has been forwarded to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for legal action. It is suspected that the Attorney General of the Republic, an ally of Bolsonaro, will do everything to keep things moving as slowly as possible… or not at all.
Today, there are more than 130 requests for the impeachment of the President of the Republic on the desk of the President of the Chamber of Deputies, who is the only one competent to decide whether to initiate the parliamentary procedure on these requests. These are the undemocratic rules of a reactionary institution that inherited many of the procedures of the military dictatorship. The Senate CPI report demonstrates what we already knew, namely that the Bolsonaro government, with its policy of promoting natural “herd immunity”, early treatment with drugs of proven ineffectiveness and chaos in the reception of patients, with the shortage of oxygen, speaking out against mass vaccination and instigating corruption in the purchase of vaccines… all of this has led to the deaths of thousands of Brazilians which could have been prevented.
However, instead of using the parliamentary commission’s report to fuel a new wave of larger mobilisations, the organisers of the National Fora Bolsonaro Campaign, composed mainly of trade union and popular organisations such as the CUT and MST, and political parties such as PT, PSOL and PCdoB, decided to cancel the new “Fora Bolsonaro!” demonstrations initially announced for 15 November, the anniversary of the proclamation of the Republic. Instead, they decided to integrate the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro!” into the traditional Black Consciousness Day demonstrations on 20 November.
In fact, these leaderships went so far as to replace the slogan “Bolsonaro, Out!” with “Bolsonaro, Never Again”, as was the case in the call for the women’s rallies planned for 4 December. This change is not insignificant: “Bolsonaro, Never Again” is the political expression of subordination to the electoral calendar, to the planned deadline for presidential elections, i.e., October 2022. There were certainly no fewer than six days of “Fora Bolsonaro!” demonstrations during the first half of 2021. Hundreds of thousands participated across the country. However, all these mobilisations took place on weekends and public holidays, with the leaderships of the working-class organisations rejecting any call for a general strike that would have strengthened the independent position of the workers. They agreed to channel the demonstrations as part of a game of putting pressure on the National Congress to limit Bolsonaro’s authoritarian drive.
As far as big capital, the financial markets and the right-wing parties are concerned, Bolsonaro and his far-right attitudes – creating permanent tension and multiplying the threats of a Bonapartist dictatorial coup against the very institutions of capitalist rule in Brazil – are fueling a dangerous political environment while a social crisis unfolds, aggravated by the pandemic and by the counter-reforms and privatisations that are constantly taking away rights and impoverishing the workers and the majority of the population.
The problem for the bourgeoisie is that a possible impeachment of Bolsonaro could encourage powerful mass demonstrations leading to the collapse of the whole government, including the fall of his Vice-President, General Mourão, and even challenging reactionary institutions such as the Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF) and the National Congress. It is worth remembering that it was these institutions that, in 2016, gave legitimacy to the coup d’état leading to the ousting of President Dilma (Workers’ Party). And in 2018, each of these institutions, in its own way, cooperated to prevent Lula from running for – and likely winning – the presidential election, setting the conditions for the judicial and electoral fraud that led to Bolsonaro’s unexpected illegitimate “victory”.
Big capital has learnt from what happened during the big mobilisations in the US, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Paraguay and Bolivia. It has chosen the more prudent strategy of seeking to frame Bolsonaro – and his children, who are members of parliament at different levels – sometimes using the threat of impeachment, but also threatening to use the judiciary and the federal police to arrest members of his family clan and, in the future, Bolsonaro himself, when he is no longer President. The creation of the Senate Commission of Inquiry into Covid is part of this strategy of permanent threat. Several of Bolsonaro’s allies (including a member of parliament) have indeed been arrested for threats against the Federal Supreme Court (STF). After Bolsonaro’s desperate failed coup attempt on 7 September, big business made him present a public letter of submission to the institutions, written by former President Michel Temer, under the imminent threat of an arrest warrant for one of his sons already ready on the desk of an STF judge.
The plan of the financial markets is now to continue with Bolsonaro in power but under control (even if it means some occasional authoritarian excesses and minor damage) until the 2022 elections, in the hope of replacing him more quietly at that time with a more reliable candidate. Until then, the aim is to push through the whole agenda of counter-reforms and privatisations put on the parliamentary agenda by the Bolsonaro government, albeit delayed by the political upheaval of the permanent crisis at the highest levels of the ruling class. Big business and the right wing have two key reasons for seeking an alternative candidate whom they can trust to replace Bolsonaro in 2023. The first is that Bolsonaro is a dangerous factor of institutional destabilisation. The second is that his declining popularity means he will lose to PT candidate Lula. As one banker put it: “Bolsonaro is unacceptable, Lula is undesirable”.
What about the working class in this context?
Let’s go back to the statements made by CUT president Wagner Freitas on 2 October at the “Fora Bolsonaro!” demonstration in São Paulo: “Every day that Bolsonaro remains in government, there is more poverty, more unemployment and more deaths. There is no more important task for us workers than to put an end to this genocidal government that is exterminating the future and dreams of the Brazilian working class.”
First observation: poverty, unemployment, fuel and food prices have only increased since 2 October.
The second observation is that there is nothing more important than putting an end to this government. And yet… the CUT leadership agreed to cancel the “Fora Bolsonaro!” demonstration scheduled for 15 November. At the CUT’s 16th National Plenary Assembly, held from 21 to 24 October, with more than 950 delegates from affiliated unions from all over the country, no plan was discussed for a national strike to oust Bolsonaro and Mourão from government and defeat their programme of attacks on the living conditions of the working class and the people. The CUT President merely stated: “If there is no impeachment now, we will put Bolsonaro on trial at the ballot box in 2022 by electing Lula president.”
However, since all the impeachment requests have been blocked by the simple decision of the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, not bringing them to a plenary session, the “Bolsonaro trial” can only take place by waiting for the October 2022 presidential election.
Let’s go back to what Fernando Haddad, a former PT candidate in 2018 and member of the party’s national leadership, said at the same rally where the CUT President was present: “The elections are a year away. Ask the people in the suburbs, the people in the countryside, the unemployed, the high school students left behind if it is possible to wait another year to end this nightmare. It is not possible!”
Haddad is right: it is not possible to wait a year to put an end to this nightmare. But then, why did the PT agree to end the “Fora Bolsonaro!” protests and focus on the electoral campaign in late 2022? The editorial in the 4 October issue of Proletarian Emancipation, the bulletin published by the Internationalist Communist Organisation (OCI), addressed the question of the continuation of the struggle for “Fora Bolsonaro!” as follows:
“It is time for the CUT and the PT, together with all the organisations representing workers and young people, to call on the working class to mount a general strike to put an end to the Bolsonaro government and its economic policy which enriches the billionaires responsible for the flight of capital and who evade taxes thanks to their offshore accounts. It is time to think about the way to fight to win a workers’ government.”
For the OCI, a workers’ government would have as its mandate the following elements, in addition to the repeal of the labour and social security counter-reforms implemented by the Temer government (serving the interests of the 2016 putschists who ousted President Dilma) and then the Bolsonaro government:
►cancellation of the privatisation of Petrobras, Eletrobras and Vale do Rio Doce;
►reduction of the working day without a reduction in salary to increase the supply of jobs;
►an end to the “brown envelope” in public services;
►increased spending on health, education, sanitation and housing for the people;
►implementation of land reform and the defence of the Amazon;
►the fight against hunger;
►stopping the servicing of the illegitimate public debt that absorbs about 50 percent of the annual budget (in interest and “amortizations” that only make the debt grow astronomically), etc.
For the OCI, the democracy that workers must defend is the one that consists of taking power out of the hands of a minority of exploiters and transferring it to the majority, those who produce the country’s wealth through their labour.
Confessions of a banker
Despite the increase in poverty and the resurgence of hunger in the country, the banks have never made so much money, even during the pandemic. In the first half of 2021, at the height of the health crisis, the country’s largest banks made a profit of 62 billion reais (equivalent to US$10.88 billion or 9.68 billion euros), 53 percent more than in the same period the previous year.
A leaked audio recording of a recent conversation between banker André Esteves of the investment bank BTG-Pactual and some of his clients has exposed the views of finance capital on the situation in the country and its fears about next year’s presidential election. Esteves makes it clear that, for the markets, the condition for supporting any President taking office in 2023 is a commitment to continue the so-called “macroeconomic policy” of fiscal adjustment, privatisation and wage exploitation that guarantees the profits of the big capitalists.
In short, the condition for their trusting the next government is the guarantee that the bankers will be able to designate in advance a finance minister chosen from among their peers, as well as the election of a National Congress that can be manipulated at will.
As for the President of the Central Bank, the current one will still be in office for two years after the election of the next President, which, according to Esteves, would relieve the financial markets even if the PT’s Lula heads the next government.
What the CEO of BTG-Pactual is making clear, as other bankers have said as well, is that despite their disappointments with Bolsonaro, they would have no problem supporting him against Lula in next year’s election.
Their problem is that the most recent pre-election polls only confirm the previous ones: Bolsonaro is increasingly fragile electorally, and he has no chance against Lula. There is a risk that Lula will win the presidential election in the first round, as would have been the case in 2018 if the candidate initially nominated by the Workers’ Party had not been fraudulently eliminated from the election. This time, it is no longer possible to imprison Lula or remove him from the race, as this could trigger an uncontrollable revolt against the institutions, which the PT leadership itself would not be able to control as it agreed to do in 2018, by appointing a replacement for Lula. In the leaked recording, André Esteves says that he is not afraid of the Lula of the CPF (register of individual tax-payers) – that is, the individual – but of the Lula of the CNPJ (national register of legal persons), the social subject.
What the bankers fear is the Lula who carries with him the expectations of tens of millions for far-reaching social change and who are organised in the PT, in the other parties claiming to stand for the workers, in the CUT and the unions, in the landless movement, in the student and youth organisations, in the popular organisations.
Banker Esteves’s fear is justified. A 13year experience of PT governments, between 2002 and 2014, has left lessons among a sector of the activists.
One of these lessons is that it is not enough to elect a government and expect it to solve everything, especially in the context of maintaining reactionary institutions set up to prevent the workers and the majority from democratically imposing their interests, from opposing capitalist exploitation and oppression.
There is also the awareness, perfectly justified, that it was the international and national capitalist forces that banded together to oust Dilma in 2016, to arrest Lula and prevent his candidacy in 2018, and to accelerate the measures that call into question the rights won by the workers that they want to win back today.
This fear is pushing the dominant capitalist sectors and the big media, such as Rede Globo, to try to set up an alternative candidacy to Lula and Bolsonaro, which they are calling the “third way”.
A kind of candidacy from the centre. What makes these attempts unsuccessful is the fact that the potential “third way” candidates are seen as representatives of a “Bolsonarism without Bolsonaro”, since their parties support the whole agenda of counter-reforms which Bolsonaro – in the interest of the markets – has put on the agenda of the National Congress.
The bourgeoisie’s dilemma and the construction of a Popular Front
The bourgeoisie’s dilemma has nothing to do with Bolsonaro’s authoritarian character. It is something else altogether. Bolsonaro is a nuisance, but it would be acceptable to use him again as long as the economic programme of looting the people can continue. The problem is that Bolsonaro as a candidate has no chance of winning the election against Lula. And if Lula wins against Bolsonaro, in what would appear to be a deferred confrontation in 2018 thanks to institutional fraud, all the measures approved under Bolsonaro – including the Previdência, the social security system – could be powerfully and legitimately challenged through workers’ action.
On the other hand, both imperialism and the national bourgeoisie, while betting primarily on a “third way” candidate to defeat Lula, are aware of the risks that letting the Workers’ Party candidate – the favourite to win – run with the exclusive support of working-class parties would present for the future. This is why an alliance is being promoted that is leading Lula to choose as his future Vice-President the former Governor of São Paulo, Geraldo Alckmin, who left the old bourgeois party of former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the PSDB, and moved to another bourgeois party of lesser stature, which recently welcomed into its fold a sector from the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and a federal deputy who was a former national leader of the PSOL (Party of Socialism and Freedom). When Alckmin governed the State of São Paulo, he acted as a good privatiser and a good student of big business interests. In the 2018 election, he was a presidential candidate for the PSDB against Bolsonaro, but failed to make it to the second round.
Many members of the PT leadership and Lula himself do not officially recognise the ongoing discussions with Alckmin, but neither do they rule out the possibility that he could be a candidate for Vice-President alongside Lula. The fact is that the PT leadership is working to repeat the so-called coalition governments that ran the country during the 13 years the party held the Presidency, resulting in the so-called “win-win” policy. The alleged winners were both the businessmen and bankers and the poorest Brazilians, thanks to compensatory social policies, while paying the bill for the pension reform of civil servants (2003) with a heavy income tax on average wage-earners and the freezing of the land reform, etc.
On 28 July this year, in an interview with the Mexican TV channel Once, Lula repeated what he had always said about his two terms in office:
“Never in Brazil’s history have businessmen made so much money, landowners have made so much money, bankers have made so much money. But the workers have also made money. The economy has grown, we have created jobs, Brazil has become an international power.”
As Marxists, we know that if the capitalists have made money, it is because the bill has been paid via the exploitation of certain salaried sectors and the middle classes, otherwise the books don’t balance.
The threat of disfigurement of the CUT
The 16th National Plenary Assembly of the CUT discussed an “organisational project” for the union confederation, which will have to be confirmed by its National Congress (CONCUT) in 2023.
One amendment, presented by the majority trade union current, Articulação Sindical, proposed that religious entities, sporting associations and immigrant associations could join the CUT as “fraternal entities”, without the right to speak or vote, but affiliated as such to the organisation.
The Socialist and Democratic CUT (CSD), a trade union current linked to the Unified Secretariat (Usec), went even further, adding to this proposal that these non-union entities should have the same right to speak and vote at Congresses as union and federation representatives. The proposal for affiliation of “fraternal entities” was finally approved by around 70 percent of the delegates’ votes, without deciding whether those entities will have a voice and a vote, which was postponed until the next Confederal Congress in 2023. Religious bodies in a trade union confederation? This can only introduce religious divisions into the unions, when what unites workers are their common demands.
Similarly, sporting entities and their organised supporters do not help to unify workers. The CUT’s work with immigrants can and should be done with the objective that immigrant workers enjoy equal labour and social rights and the right to organise in the sector of the working class to which they belong, and not as a separate and differentiated body, used by the bosses as superexploited labour to drive down the general price of labour-power.
The entry of non-union entities endangers the union character of the CUT and its affiliated unions. It is not the answer to the problems of organising new categories of workers such as employees of social networking companies or service platforms, for example. Nor is it an adequate response to the need to organise the unemployed in unions.
At a time when workers most need their basic instrument of struggle to defend themselves from the attacks on wages, to fight against the threat of dismissals and the undermining of rights… this threat to disfigure the trade union character of the CUT seems to indicate that under a future Lula government, the CUT could cease to be an instrument of demands and pressure on a government that the workers have elected, and become an agency of social works, as happened with Argentinean trade unionism in the Peron era.
The PT runs the same risk of dissolution if it joins the form of the so-called “party federation” recently approved by the National Congress, which opens the doors for a repetition in Brazil of the experience of the “Broad Front” in Uruguay, which allowed the dissolution of the Communist Party, the historic party of the working class in that country, dissolved into a single organisation with the Christian Democracy.
The “party federations”, as defined by the law, are actual “new parties”.
The world crisis of capitalism and the intensification of the class struggle makes dangerous for the bourgeoisie any organised instrument that the working class can use to defend its short-term and historic objectives against its class enemy.
Deindustrialisation and the struggle for land
Within the framework of the recomposition of the international division of labour, the Brazilian working class is under attack from the accelerated deindustrialisation of the country, which increasingly has to fulfil the role of a global producer of basic agricultural and mineral products. The aggressiveness of deindustrialisation is such that the Bolsonaro government has ordered the closure of CEITEC, the only public company in Brazil – and Latin America – that produces semiconductors, while there is a shortage of this supply for other industrial sectors such as the auto industry. The struggle for the reactivation of CEITEC has been revived in this situation.
In the countryside, the expansion of land clearance for agribusiness is forcefully reviving the struggle for land. The expansion threatens land occupied by quilombolas (members of Black communities descended from fugitive slaves who live self-sufficiently) and landless peasants. The expansion also threatens indigenous lands, which are coveted for agriculture, livestock farming and mining.
As a result, the struggle for land in Brazil, which seemed to be dormant, is being reborn with all its strength and conflicts, and is forcefully posing the need for unity between workers and peasants to defend both the factories, the need for land reform and the rights of indigenous peoples to their land.
The “strong dollar” policy is part of an economic policy aimed at favouring the large speculators in the agricultural and mineral commodities trading sector, which irrigate tax havens and the world financial market, while internally they generate a rise in food prices and a devaluation of wages.
Agribusiness owes more than 1,000 billion reais (equivalent to US$175.51 billion or 156.16 billion euros) in taxes to the State.
The expansion of agricultural land is the cause of the fires and deforestation of Brazilian forest reserves in the sole interest of speculation and criminal plunder, mainly in the Amazon. In this sense, there is no doubt that capitalism and its permanent pursuit of profit is the enemy of environmental protection and the cause of the climatic imbalances that threaten the country with desertification, especially in the south, as a result of the lack of humidity from the Amazon.
Lula’s trip to Europe and the United States
As we finish writing this article, the press is reporting on Lula’s meeting with Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission and High Representative of the European Union for External Relations.
Lula’s meeting with leaders and parliamentarians of parties claiming to stand for the workers from different European countries, as well as with trade union leaders from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), is not surprising, since Lula is a leader of a workers’ party. But what sense does his meeting with a senior representative of the European Commission make?
A European Commission which, for the benefit of the capitalists, imposes the criteria of the European Union on the workers and peoples of the continent, making them bear the burden of the debt, the reduction of spending on public services, the reduction and casualisation of wages, the loss of labour rights and social security systems, privatisations, while obeying – to a certain extent – the same rules of fiscal adjustment that the financial markets and imperialism impose on our country. So what political agreement can we expect with the European Commission, if it means implementing a different policy in Brazil from that of Bolsonaro and his Finance Minister, Paulo Guedes?
In December, Lula will visit the US. The newspaper Transicion (No.30, October 2021), published by the Internationalist Communist League (LCI) of Mexico, reports an agreement between Mexican President López Obrador and US President Joe Biden to launch the proposal for a hemispheric free trade treaty, a kind of T-MEC (free trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada) (2) extended to the whole of the American continent. It is an attempt to re-impose the old Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), but in a new form. The FTAA aimed to subject Latin American governments to mechanisms that subordinated them to Washington’s interests.
As in the European Union, the agreement proposed a common currency on the continent, in this case the US dollar. It also stipulated that White House advisers would be involved in the drafting of new trade contracts signed by each Latin American nation. The FTAA was rejected by the people. In Brazil, its rejection by the then-Lula government was supported by a large popular plebiscite. No amount of pressure from the European Union or Biden can get Lula to accept the FTAA, renamed the “expanded T-MEC”.
From our point of view, from the elements of the situation set out above, the Internationalist Communist Organisation must act in the next period in Brazil by opening the discussion with activists of the parties claiming to stand for the working class, with the workers without parties, with those who are active in the workers’ and youth struggle, in order to act in the following directions:
►Continue to fight for “Fora Bolsonaro!” in each partial struggle, seeking to take up the generalisation of this campaign;
►Fight, together with the 30 percent of delegates of the CUT plenary, in a broad campaign for the rejection of the proposal of “fraternal affiliation” of religious, sporting and other such organisations to the CUT;
►Continue to insist on the need to organise a national general strike of civil servants against the PEC 32 Bill, which destroys public services, as the only way to block this counter-reform, which dispersed actions will not be able to stop, nor will pressure on the deputies;
►Form a representative Brazilian delegation to the World Conference Against War, Exploitation and Precarious Work;
►Launch the proposal for a National Meeting to discuss “what kind of government do the workers need”, to put an end to the policies of Bolsonaro and big capital, and to democratically impose the aspirations of the workers.
(1) Editor’s note: A reference to a speech by Bolsonaro.
(2) Translator’s note: In the United States, the acronym used for the agreement is USMCA, in Canada it is CUSMA, and in Mexico it is T-MEC.