[Brazil] Organize the Ones Below to Knock Down the Ones Above

APRIL 24TH, 2017
Indignation of the movement is growing through the bases towards a major general strike on April 28. Metal workers and education and transportation workers already decided that they are going to stop the whole country. Also, it is possible to feel the outrage of workers and the population against the corrupt government, which every day shows its will to attack our rights in favor of employers and bankers.

 By PSTU Brazil.
We have already seen great demonstrations on March 8, and also the day of strike and struggles on March 15 surprised everyone. April 28 will be bigger. Contrary to those who claimed that workers were on the defensive as a result of a supposed reactionary wave, reality is showing the opposite. Not only in Brazil but also throughout Latin America, workers show a great disposition to struggle. In Paraguay, the Congress was set on fire recently. In Argentina, they held a general strike that stopped the country on April 6.
The Government Felt it, but it Still Attacks
Temer’s government showed that it was affected by the mobilization and repudiation that extends and deepens among the population against him. He rehearsed a setback in the Social Security reform proposal and blackmailed on the safeguard of outsourced workers, including amendments in the labor reform. But, at the same time, it deepens the attacks: it imposed the outsourcing,[1] and while we were closing this edition, the labor reform rapporteur sent more than 100 modifications to the CLT [Consolidation of Labor Laws].
What the government is doing means a real social war against the workers and the population in general. Its goal is to destroy labor rights, to end the social security and to increase workers exploitation to recover the profit rate for capitalists. What we must do is defeat the reforms and the government.
We cannot fall into the trap of negotiating reforms, as many sectors defend to do – such as Paulinho, of Força Sindical. On March 15, while speaking to the Deca factory workers [ceramics, metals and household accessories] in the southern area of Sao Paulo, Paulinho argued that it was impossible to overthrow the reform, and that the only thing that we could do was to approve amendments to make it the least bad. We know that is a big lie.
First, because it is possible to defeat the reform. Second, because there is no “least bad” reform.
To Strength the Committees Against Reforms
The preparation of the 28th is on the agenda, organizing assemblies on the rank and file of the categories to approve the participation in the general strike. But that is not enough: it is necessary to organize committees against the reforms in workplaces, on the periphery, schools and universities, unifying organized unions with the popular sectors and the poor and black youth of the quebradas.[2]
We cannot only paralyze the categories as also help to paralyze trade, transportation and other activities.
We have to defend our rights and point an alternative. Against the program of the rich for the crisis, we need to debate a workers’ program. A program that guarantees rights, salary and jobs imposing the non-payment of the debt to the bankers, the nationalization of the financial system without any compensation and under workers’ control and the expropriation of the great contractors involved in corruption to put them under the workers’ control. This is the challenge for the workers and poor people: to build a great general strike, to advance in the organization of anti-reforms committees, and to discuss a working-class program that imposes a classist solution to the crisis.
The Workers and People in Power
The PT and the fronts around it, such as the Frente Povo Sem Medo and the Frente Brasil Popular, do not set direct action to defeat the reforms as the main strategy. The PT wants to wear down Temer to return to power in 2018 so it can implement the same policy it did over the 13 years it was in power.
The solution for the workers is not Lula 2018. Could it be in the “construction of a left-wing alternative”, then, as proposed by many sectors of the PSOL –which are already launching potential candidates for next year’s election?
In a moment in which workers start the construction of a general strike and advance in their organization and their growing rejection to the system’s politicians, to propose just an electoral solution is a step back. In addition, to pose a program that limits to the democracy of the rich is to repeat the steps of the PT.
We need to discuss a political alternative for the working class. The problem is that this alternative will not come through the bourgeois election nor through this system. The only possibility is to impose a workers’ socialist program breaking with this regime and this system of the rich, imposing a workers’ government.
It is in through the victory of the general strike and strengthening of the committees that we can develop workers’ consciousness and organization. Only this can walk towards a workers’ socialist government, and not waiting for 2018 elections.
Originally published in Opinião Socialista No. 534 – April 13, 2017.
Translation: Misty M.
[1] Recently, while the Social Security reform was on hold due to the general mobilization, the Temer administration secretly voted a project of 1998, by Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former Brazilian president), legalizing the outsourcing of all activities, including the prime activity of a company.
[2] Irregular settlements similar to the favelas [slums] located in the slopes of hills, with a high risk of collapses, where the poorest segments of the urban population –and peasants migrating from the countryside to the cities looking for a job– raise their homes. These settlements are characterized in general by lack of potable water, electricity and sanitation.

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