[Brazil] General Strike: April 28 was a Historic Day

APRIL 30TH, 2017

The strength of a strike is measured by how much it paralyzed.

By Editorial Staff – Opinião Socialista -PSTU.
April 28, 2017, has entered the History of Brazil as one of the major general strikes this country has seen. Probably, the biggest one since 1989. Millions of workers of practically every state sit back and stopped production and circulation of goods and people.

Picket at the entrance of Viação Redentor, in Freguesia, Rio de Janeiro.

The strike had an expressive participation of the “heavy weights” of the working class. From North to South, transportation –rail workers as much as bus drivers-, teachers, bank workers, oil workers and many other categories paralyzed on Friday.
A strike is the act of stopping production to prove the importance of workers, and its success is measured on how much it paralyzes. April 28 was really strong. In a country of continental dimensions, it is hard to calculate the exact adherence of the strike against outsourcing and labor and retirement reforms. The CUT states the it rounded the 35 million workers; the Força Sindical calculates a number between 35 and 40 millions.

São Paulo Metro wagons in the closed maintenance yard.

As a political strike, April 28 was not only a day of the categories in defense of their rights. It was much more than that. It was a day of unity of employed and unemployed workers, organized in unions in the city or the countryside and in popular movements as well, together with movements against oppressions (women, Blacks, LGBTs). It was a day of convergence of the generalized outrage against the government’s measures, but also against the government itself. The unity could be seen, mainly, in the periphery of the cities, like in the South Region of São Paulo.
The country lives a strong process of struggles since 2013, but this time something was different: indignation was unified in a united action, the general strike. Workers stopped production and circulation imposing a prejudice of billions to the bourgeoisie. The estimate is that, only in commerce, there was a loss of R$5 billions [almost US$1.6 billions].

Picket line in the textile factory Guararapes, the main one in Natal (RGN). Picture by Érica Galvão.

A28 marked the entrance of the working class organized as a class, with its own methods of struggle. When such thing happens, everything seems to be opposite to reality, but it is actually showing how things really are, as it shows the working class is who produces and guarantees the functioning of society. If the working class stops, the cities do not work. If transportation stops, there is no distribution of goods nor people displacement. The factories do not produce, and if there are no goods there is no commerce. When workers become aware of the strength they have, they can defeat every attack of the government, and further, they can determine their own future.
The Press Campaign and Repression
The bourgeoisie and the government are aware of the danger a general strike puts them in. Thus, their systematic campaign during A28 against the strike is nothing to be surprised about. From midnight on along the whole day, there were hours of stories, comments and editorials against the mobilization and in favor of the reforms. Exactly the opposite to what was seen on the streets: a great sympathy of the population with the strike and repudiation to the reforms.

General Strike in Macaé (RJ).

The survey driven by the Veja magazine online reminds of the survey made live by Datena in 2013, when the host asked people if they were in favor or against the protests, and he was surprised by the result. To the question “Are you in favor of the General Strike on Friday?,96% (766.850) said yes, while only 3,8% (31.015) said no (numbers when this article was being written). On social networks, the vast majority voted in favor of the general strike.
Another argument used by the defenders of the reforms was that the events were “small”. Another fallacy. First, the protests were expressive. In São Paulo, the city stopped the whole day, not only because of the lack of transportation but because of the protests spread across the regions, mainly in the periphery. In cities like Rio de Janeiro, Maceió and Natal, the protests were giant.

Great demonstration in Conde da Boa Vista, Recife.

The government is desperately trying to demoralize the movement, affirming A28 was “a failure”. However, what demoralizes the most is the government itself, sank in corruption. Anyone that has some contact with reality can feel the effects of the general strike. Despite its public statements, backstage the government felt the effects too.

Repression in Rio de Janeiro.

Another response to the mobilization was repression. In Rio de Janeiro, the Military Police cowardly repressed the protest in the center of the city. In Goiânia, a student beaten by a cop is now struggling between life and death. Cases of arbitrariness and abusive repression are multiplying.
To Move Forward on the Struggle Against Reforms and the Government!
Workers come out of the 28th strengthened, and the government is weakened in its attempt to approve the reforms. But we need to move forward. Federations and social and popular movements must immediately organize the continuation of this mobilization, which cannot be smaller than April 28. It is necessary to prepare, from now on, a new general strike stronger than A28. Now, the argument that a general strike “is not possible” is no longer an excuse.
It is vital to strengthen the base committees against the reforms, and to build them where there are none. The organization of committees serves the unification of workers with the popular movement and the poor population of the peripheries and takes the struggle out of the hand of Union bureaucrats, who deserve no trust whatsoever. We need to move forward, defeat the reforms once and for all, refusing any negotiation of “amendments”, and take the government and this Congress of thieves down.

Natal – RGN.

Originally published @ http://www.pstu.org.br.

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