Written by Zé María *
Friday, 23 May 2014 14:24
On June 12, we will work to coalesce all mobilizations already under way and under preparation.
The workers and the young people who are going on the strikes, occupations and the street demonstrations yearn for better salaries, funds for public health, education, housing, public transportation, land reform and worthy retirement. They want an end to police brutality and the social struggle criminalization. They also protest against the President Dilma government policy as well as the States and Municipal government’s policies, which only release public funds for FIFA, large companies, contractors, banks and agribusiness.
On this May 15th, we lived a wide process of struggles across the country. In most capital cities, street demonstrations protested against the injustices of the World Cup. But it was not only the marches – some of them severely repressed by the police, as it happened in São Paulo. The country experienced hundreds of other ways of protest.
In São Paulo, there were strikes in more than a dozen of metallurgical plants, convened by local metalworkers union in protest against the economic policies of the federal government. A huge rally of teachers of the municipal sector on strike raised the category’s voice which requires of the mayor Fernando Haddad (PT / SP) to meet the demands of educators in contrast with the allocation of public funds for the contractors and the World Cup.
The subway workers stopped the maintenance sector and made a beautiful march of protest throughout downtown. Families of the ‘Ocupação Esperança’ (Occupation Hope) from the Homeless Movement ‘Luta Popular’ (People’s Struggle), shut down Anhanguera highway still early in the morning. The MTST made several mobilizations, also in the morning at a number of spots of the city. The protest of popular movements was against the injustices of the World Cup and required housing for the poor people.
In Belo Horizonte, a large demonstration brought together the striking workers of various sectors (state and munipality teachers, Belo Horizonte municipal servants) along with the families of the ‘Ocupação William Rosa’ (Occupation William Rosa), from the ‘Luta Popular’ (People’s Struggle), other popular movements of the region and students. In Rio de Janeiro, in the wake of strike of the public transportation workers which has crippled the city for two days, a demonstration in downtown unified the teachers of the municipal and state sectors who are on strike, several other categories and students. All of them are protesting against the injustices of the World Cup, against the economic policy of the federal government and against the negligence of state and municipal governments towards the demands of workers and the poor people.
And so it went in many other cities, with demonstrations organized by the World Cup Popular Committee, the CSP-Conlutas, ANEL, trade unions and popular movements. Therefore the experience the country lived was a strong day of protests against the choices made by the rulers of the three levels (federal, state and municipal) and demanding changes in the country. It is not true that workers and young people, who fight, do not want the World Cup to be held in Brazil. Small groups, such as the adherents of Black Bloc tactics, do not represent the hundreds of thousands of young people who took part in protests across the country. The Black Bloc tactics only undermine the movement.
The reasons that motivate the protests are the social injustices that the World Cup has been evidencing. The question that is not silent is why do governments can ensure, with public funds, the famous “FIFA standard” for soccer arenas and cannot guarantee the same “standard” for the quality of public health services, education, transportation? Why the funds transferred to contractors are not used to ensure housing for the poor people, to make land reform, to pay for a decent retirement for those who have worked their whole life? And why there is not a concrete action from authorities to change the context of gender violence against women, against racism and homophobia that continually rage on into society?
One of the reasons that motivate the protests is the violence the police, at the behest of governments, treats the workers and young people at the demonstrations, the criminalization of social struggle. In Rio Grande do Sul, a judge has just accepted a complaint by the Public Prosecutor against the Matheus Gomes, young comrade, head of PSTU and ANEL, and 5 more comrades who, if convicted, could face up to 20 years in prison. There are already hundreds of young people charged by police across the country. Their crime? Fight for their rights! What motivates the protests is the real genocide committed by the police on the outskirts of large cities, against the poor people and the black people.
President Dilma’s government spoke out trying to decrease and belittle the importance of the protests that happened at the 15M. She attempts to unlink the strikes and struggles of popular movements from the protest against the World Cup, as if these strikes and struggles did not question the policies and choices made by her government as well. As propaganda in the mainstream press and on television this might even be done. But the reality the country is facing is quite different from the official propaganda.
Since June last year – when millions took to the streets expressing their discontent with governments and demanding changes in the country – we live a new political situation in Brazil. This new situation has been deepening in recent months and is experiencing a peak mobilization in recent weeks. The fact that this process does not occur in the form of demonstrations of hundreds of thousands in the streets, but through hundreds of strikes across the country through occupations and demonstrations of popular movements and through the students’ struggles do not take away its strength or importance. Many of these strikes are expressions of workers’ rebellion that, in order to defend their rights, they run over the union leaderships when the latter prefer to support the government and the large companies. In several states, the mobilization has already reached the rank and file of the security forces, as we have seen in the strike of the Military Police in Bahia and more recently, in Pernambuco.
What we see is a leap forward in the fighting process in the country, now with an ever increasing role of the organized working class, through their traditional methods of struggle. And this scenario tends to broaden in the coming weeks.
* Zé Maria is a presidential candidate by PSTU and is a member of the CSP-Conlutas National Coordination