The meeting reflected the major struggles of the recent period, by the presence of several fighting sectors and the youth. The National Convention of the PSTU officially launched this morning on June 14, the candidacy for President of Brazil of José Maria de Almeida, or simply Zé Maria.
It took place in an exciting act where around 500 people were present in the auditorium of the Sinpeem (São Paulo City Teachers Trade Union) in Ponte Pequena, North side of the city.
The launching meeting brought together different generations who reaffirmed the importance and relevance of the struggle against capital, exploitation and all forms of oppression. Metallurgical workers, teachers and representatives of important sectors who staged strong fights in the last period, as the oil workers from the state owned company Petrobras, bus drivers from Rio and the subway workers from São Paulo, including several of them dismissed by the São Paulo governor Geraldo Alckmin, due to the five-days strike in early June.
A worker for President of Brazil
The candidate for the presidency, Zé Maria, began his speech by explaining the apparent contradiction between not believing in elections while participating in them. “We know that elections change nothing, because they are controlled by big companies and multinationals who are major contributors to Dilma Rousseff (PT), Aécio Neves (PSDB) or Eduardo Campos (PSB) campaigns,” he said, reporting that the media, in order to serve the interests of big business, always emphasize these same candidates. “Even before October 5 [election day], the candidates who can and who can not win the election are already defined,” he warns.
Nevertheless, Zé Maria stressed the importance of gaining the class consciousness, especially of the most exploited sectors. “We are seeing a major wave of strikes and struggles, and our demands will not be achieved by voting in candidates like those from PSDB or this government (PT),” he said. “Every vote we can grab from the PT (Workers’ Party), the PSDB and the PSB will be a step forward to strengthen our socialist alternative,” Zé completed. The candidacies of Zé Maria and Claudia Durans [for vice president] seek to be the expression of the days of June  and of the strikes and struggles that have taken the country since then.
Zé Maria reported somewhat the time of formation of the PT, from which he was one of the founders. “At that time, the workers wondered why they fought every day against the bosses and had to vote for them in elections, and then they questioned: ‘Why we, who produce the wealth, do not rule and finish with the privileges of the large companies, banks and multinationals?’ The PT, however, deviated from this path and, once in government, continued to serve their interests.”
The PSTU’s candidate remembered an interview with the former president Lula when he said he would not win the elections being “like the PSTU”, ie maintaining the class independence and not receiving money from the big business. “We are more ambitious than Lula, who left everything he meant before to be a president. We don’t want that, we want more, we want to change the country, change the world,” he told the audience, who broke into applauses.
Claudia Durans: woman, Black and socialist
For the candidacy for vice president, the PSTU presented the name of the teacher and social worker Claudia Durans. Black, woman and Northeastern [the poorest Brazilian region], Claudia brings the centrality of the struggle against oppression to the party’s campaign. “We are the party that seeks to make the synthesis of the historical struggle of the working class against exploitation with that of Blacks, women and homosexuals against oppression,” noting that “the struggle against exploitation is not unrelated to the fight against racism, sexism and homophobia.”
“Our party know that the proletariat has color, gender and sexual orientation,” she said. Claudia reminded of the themes that should guide the campaign: the brutal police violence which victimizes thousands of young Blacks in the poor outskirts of the big cities. “The number of youth murders are higher than the deaths in a country under civil war,” she lamented. She also recalled that for a greater social tension more racial conflicts appear.
The left has an option of struggle
The PSTU’s Convention that chose the candidates was chaired by Vera Lúcia, a textile worker and the president of PSTU in Sergipe state (Northeast of Brazil) and a construction worker and councilor of Belém (PA), Cleber Rabelo. The names of Zé Maria and Claudia Durans were acclaimed by those present, who voted unanimously for their nomination as a socialist alternative in the next presidential election.
The president of the Subway Workers Union, Altino Prazeres, who supported Zé Maria and Claudia candidacies, explained the relationship between the struggle for a public transport system and the subway workers’ strike, which paralyzed São Paulo for five days.
“There is no contradiction between the transport workers and the public, because both fight for a state owned quality transportation,” he said. “But, it can’t be state owned and in the hands of the PSDB, because it will serve, as it is now, to benefit multinationals such as Alstom or Bombardier.”
Altino criticized the billions spent on stadiums for the World Cup, while hospitals and schools are crumbling and the precarious transport is delivered to large private concessionaires. “We watched the World Cup opening, but I would like to see a big opening show of a public hospital with famous singers and artists like in the World Cup,” he said.
The Convention finished with the audience singing “The Internationale”, the world working class’ song since Marx’s times.