Brazil: Before the General Strike on 11th July

Report from El Mundo Socialista, http://elmundosocialista.blogspot.com.br, 2.7.2013, published by the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), www.thecommunists.net

 

A “general strike” called by an anonymous Facebook group for the 1st July has not taken off. However on Sunday, 30the June, a number of important mobilizations took place, especially in Rio de Janeiro against the Municipal, State and Federal Governments as well as against the FIFA. The City of Rio de Janeiro and the State of Rio de Janeiro (Both have the same name) are both governed by the PMDB party, which supports on the federal level the PT-led government. The repression was violent.

As a result of the protests, these leading politicians and the president Dilma Roussef were unable to attend the final football game between Brazil and Spain at the Maracana stadium. By this they avoided the expected massive boos from the audience.

The popularity of the federal government, led by President Dilma Rousseff from the Workers Party (PT), is falling dramatically. As we said before, no ruler, nor right-wing party, nor center nor pseudo left party, is spared from popular hatred. Hence, the popularity of the state government of São Paulo, Geraldo Alkcmin (PSDB) – a traditional rightist party and the main opposition force to PT – is also falling.

 

Rousseff calls for a plebiscite for "Political Reform"

 

Reacting to this political crisis of the ruling class, Dilma Rousseff called for a plebiscite for comprehensive "Reforma Politica" (Political Reform). In her message on TV last week, she even talked about convening a constituent assembly to enact this Reforma Politica. In this she is barred by the constitution itself, which prohibits the convening of a constituent assembly for only one subject. Her proposal was also met with massive resistance from the bourgeois PMDB which is one of the biggest parties in Brazil and which supports the PT-led government. At the last presidential elections, the PMDB made a joint slate with the PT and got as a result its leader, Michel Temer, elected as the country’s vice president. The PMDB leadership felt betrayed because they were not informed by the President of these proposals. For all these reasons the country is facing now a crisis in its government.

Either way, Rousseff’s proposal for constituent assembly was denied by the Federal Supreme Court.

But Rousseff insists on making a plebiscite. Politicians, even those who support the government, are strongly reacting against it, because they don’t want political reforms which are not controlled by them. Therefore they are threatening to put a proposal for such a plebiscite which would prevent the re-election of Roussef.

In the context of the political crisis in Brazil, many people talk about the possibility of calling the former PT president, Lula da Silva, back to being a candidate. Such calls are also coming from sectors within the PT.

 

Political and Economic Crisis

 

All these mobilizations caused political earthquake. But in our opinion, it is the PT who loses most. Two months ago, Rousseff was approved by 57% in polls. This has plummeted to 30% - a precipitous drop of 27%. Before this, a re-election was guaranteed, but not anymore.

The PT was the most affected, because its main ally the PMDB is a bourgeois party chameleon. The PMDB is the second largest party in Brazil and has control of the Senate. It is however prepared to form an alliance with anyone who wins the presidency in the next elections in 2014. So if the PT is down in the polls, it loses its main ally.

Various factors will make sure that the political crisis in Brazil will not diminish in the near future: Inflation is on the rise to at least 6.5%, industrial production is stagnating, US Dollar value reaches 2.15 Brazil Real, real wages drop and the world-wide wave of mass protests. All this indicates that the crisis is here to stay and that the dissatisfaction, which was hidden for a long time, has surfaced in full force. We can expect that the global economic crisis of capitalism will sooner or later increase the economic crisis in Brazil since it is – as a semi-colonial country and an a commodity exporter – and thus dependent on developments on the world market.

 

Trade Unions call for General Strike on 11th July

 

The unions are calling for mass mobilizations on the 11th July. They are under massive pressure from the rank and file. The leaderships of the CUT (trade union controlled by the PT) and the CTB (trade union controlled by the Stalinist PCdoB which is also part of the ruling PT-led coalition) are in danger to discredit themselves since they are occupying positions in the government of Dilma Rousseff. Given the possibility of an electoral defeat for the PT-led government in 2014, they need to go back to the streets for pressurizing the government to implement certain social reforms. Since they do not want to appear to people as distant of Dilma Rousseff, they say that there is a dispute within the government between the right-wing parties in government (PMDB, PP, etc.) and the left-wing parties in government (PT, PCdoB). They declare to support the later against the right-wing forces in government.

By this the union leadership hopes to reoccupy the space lost on the streets. But in fact the demands are mostly the same as advocated by the federal government: End of Social Security Factor (1); 40 hours of work per week without salary reduction; Readjust worthy for retirees; more investments in health, education and security; Public transportation quality; End of the federal bill 4330 which extends the outsourcing; Agrarian Reform; End the auction of oil.

These demands are a classic expression of bourgeois reformism: they are either not concrete and therefore open for manipulation by the capitalists and government; or they are correct in itself but by far not enough giving the severity of the social crisis.

It would be however necessary to raise demands which would help to tackle the most burning issues for the working class. Such demands are:

* Cancellation of the Pension Reform

* Down with the Withdrawal of rights of public employees by the PT-Lula-Roussef government

* Sliding scale of wages

* Re-nationalization of the oil industry under workers' control

* Re-nationalization of all privatized companies under workers control

* Radical land reform under control of the poor and landless peasants

 

The PSTU and PCO

 

The PSTU (main section of the Morenoite LIT-CI) and PCO are important parties, which claim to be Trotskyist, and which compete in the elections. The problem is that in order to accommodate to the labor bureaucracy, they debase their flags and lower their program. For example, the PSTU makes a call for the mobilization of the 11th July with the same demands of the government itself.

The PCO argues that we need to preserve the PT-led government against the supposed danger of the growth of right. The PCO even claimed that the corrupt politicians of the PT, which were convicted by the Supreme Court last year, were victims of the right which is attacking leftist parties. This weekend they repeated the same argument claiming that the PT-Dilma government is under fire from the right-wing forces and that it is necessary to protect the PT government. The truth is that the PSTU and PCO are capitulating to the Popular Front government.

Many speculate that the end of the Confederations Cup the demonstrations will decrease. We will see. Anyway this political earthquake has caused effects long enough to influence the presidential election of 2014. As revolutionary and Trotskyists, we are small at the moment. But we will take advantage of mass mobilizations on 11th July and will put forward our revolutionary demands.

 

Footnote:

(1) Social Security Factor: It is a pension law which basically increases the working time. The government states that life expectancy of the Brazilians increases and therefore they should work more to get the full benefits. However, the institute that calculates the life expectancy is a federal agency – the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).