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General strike planned in Brazil: ‘Let’s build a May 1 of struggle and resistance’

Against setbacks and attacks on the rights of the working class and the people!

The leadership of the major trade union federations in Brazil will officially announce on May 1 — International Workers’ Day — a general strike to take place across Brazil on June 14. The call for the strike comes amid attacks on the minimum wage and public pensions, part of the broader reactionary agenda of right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro.

The following is a translation of a statement by the National Political Commission of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB).

The Bolsonaro government, in little more than one hundred days, displays a worn-down image before Brazilian public opinion and the international sphere. Since the so-called redemocratization process, following the overthrow of the dictatorship imposed by the 1964 coup, there has never been a government so worn out in such a short time.

However, this does not mean relief to the working class and popular sectors. Quite the contrary: pressured by the business groups that supported his candidacy and the bourgeois media to present immediate solutions to Brazil’s economic crisis while maintaining returns on capital, the government, under the command of the ultra-liberal nucleus led by Minister [of Economy] Paulo Guedes, advances its agenda of privatizations, alienation of the Brazilian public wealth, the giveaway of our natural resources and destruction of social and political rights won over decades of hard struggle.

In nearly four months, the government blew away the policy of readjustments to the real value of the minimum wage, directly attacked the resources of labor unions, expanded cuts in education and health, lifted restrictions on the use of agrochemicals and made the Popular Pharmacy1 even more rickety, all this to favor solely the capitalist bosses and monopolies. They legitimize the persecution of social activists, encourage repressive police action and the summary execution of “suspects”, blow away oversight of those who harm the environment and encourage the invasion of indigenous and quilombola2 lands by farmers and large enterprises. They announce the relinquishing of pre-salt oil reserves3 and other national wealth, and advance the privatization of our state-owned enterprises. Meanwhile, unemployment rises and the living and working conditions of the vast majority of the population worsen.

Despite the internal contradictions and conflicts arising between the different groups that led Bolsonaro to power, the government is increasingly consolidating its reactionary and extreme-right character. Ultra-conservative ideology, expressed in the social and political field mainly through the Bolsonaro clan, the followers of the astrologer Olavo de Carvalho4 and the ministers of Education, Human Rights and Foreign Affairs, is used to justify reductions to the rights of workers, women, youth, Black and indigenous peoples, and the LGBTI population, favoring the conditions for the intensification of the exploitation of the working class and the popular sectors, with the greater goal of raising the rate of profit of entrepreneurs.

Further, Minister [of Justice] Sérgio Moro5 plays the role of deepening the criminalization of social movements and political activism and increasing police repression, attempting to contain popular reaction to the capitalist project. The reactionary agenda aims to facilitate the implementation of ultraliberal economic measures, a project that unifies the hegemonic fractions of the Brazilian monopoly bourgeoisie linked to international capital, even though there may be disagreements in its midst in relation to particular actions of the Bolsonaro government.

We workers cannot put our hopes in the defeat of this government on the actions of sectors of the dominant classes, because there is more harmony than disagreement among them. The main objective of the criticism of Bolsonaro on the part of the bourgeoisie and its media outlets is to guide his steps to better serve their interests. It is fundamental that we workers fortify the struggle against the neofascist president and his government, taking advantage of these contradictions within the bourgeoisie, but without letting ourselves be confused or mixed with the bourgeois agenda.

The pressure of the bourgeoisie and the granting of favors to federal deputies6 — in the old style of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” deeply criticized in the electoral campaign and one of the reasons for the demonization of the Workers Party, the impeachment of Dilma and the imprisonment of Lula — succeeded in getting the Constitution and Justice Commission in the Chamber of Deputies to approve the project by Bolsonaro and Guedes to privatize pensions.

At this moment, organization of popular forces in the resistance to attacks of capital is urgent. In addition to united demonstrations against pension reform and all the setbacks imposed by the Bolsonaro government, it is necessary to develop solid grassroot work in the places where people work, study and live, with the aim of developing the struggles in defense of rights, democratic freedoms and better living conditions. Let us prepare the General Strike, unifying the entire working class, youth and the people, to defeat the pension reform and to fight the attacks from the government and employers. Only this way can combative and class-based organizations influence the course of social struggles, direct political opposition to the government and reverse the current correlation of forces, paving the way for a popular and socialist alternative for Brazil.

The way to get the country out of the present quagmire is not to throw the crisis on the backs of the poorest; it is to demand that the bankers, large entrepreneurs and landowners — who represent only one percent of the population and concentrate in their hands most of the wealth produced by the workers — pay the bill.

The way out for public security is not executing more innocent people in the outskirts of the cities and lifting restrictions on the bearing of arms; it is to strengthen preventive security, while ensuring universal access to public education and health care, with more jobs and opportunities for youth. Enough genocide of the poor and Black, of those who struggle in the countryside and of the indigenous peoples! No to the “Shoot-Down Law”7, which is already in force in the great Brazilian metropolises!

The road for Brazil is not servile alignment to imperialism, it is not to attack Venezuela, nor to turn over the Amazon rainforest and the Alcântara Base8 to the United States; it is to adopt an independent and anti-imperialist foreign policy in defense of peace, solidarity and cooperation between peoples. The way out is not to favor capitalist profits and exploitation; it is, on the contrary, to create the means to build Popular Power in the direction of Socialism, the only way to combat unemployment, misery and hunger once and for all and to solve the grave problems and misfortunes experienced by the Brazilian people.

For a May 1 of struggle, onward to the General Strike!

Now is the time to fortify the struggles against the project of destruction of public pensions and to mobilize the population against all the measures adopted by the Bolsonaro government, which represent political and social setbacks and attacks on the rights historically won by the working class and the popular sectors.

We will strengthen the construction, in the states and municipalities, of the Trade Union, People’s and Youth Forum founded on Feb. 19 fighting for rights and democratic freedoms, and bringing together entities, movements and political organizations of the cities and the countryside in a united and organized way to combat the reactionary attacks now in progress. Together with the national trade unions and mass organizations we must actively participate in the May 1 of Struggle and Resistance in all cities of Brazil, preparing the General Strike to stop the attacks and defend our rights!


Brazilian Communist Party – PCB National Political Commission

Editor’s notes:

  1. The Popular Pharmacy is a federal program with the stated goal of increasing access to medications for common ailments and diseases.^
  2. Quilombolas are the inhabitants of Quilombos, communities originally founded by Black slaves who escaped captivity.^
  3. The rich oil reserves of the pre-salt layer of the ocean floor off the coast of Brazil, discovered in the mid-2000s, whose exploration rights are being sold to oil giants for a fraction of their value.^
  4. Olavo de Carvalho is an prominent figure among Brazil’s extreme right, and who has played an influential role in Bolsonaro’s political ideology and cabinet choices.^
  5. Before joining the Bolsonaro government as the Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro was the judge presiding over the Car Wash Operation that jailed former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula had been the leading contender for the presidency, and his highly politicized trial and conviction were critical in ensuring Bolsonaro’s victory.^
  6. A federal deputy is a members of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Brazil’s bicameral Congress.^
  7. The “Shoot-Down Law” is a bill being considered in the Brazilian congress at the federal level, which would permit the summary execution by police forces of anyone seen carrying restricted firearms on sight, regardless of whether a confrontation took place. Governor Wilson Witzel has stated that snipers are already carrying out such executions in the state of Rio de Janeiro — a practice that is not only illegal but a brazen violation of human rights.^
  8. The Alcântara Base is a rocket-launching base in the northeastern state of Maranhão. The Bolsonaro government is granting the United States access to the strategic base despite opposition.^

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