Brazil: Truckers' Strike Put Michel Temer's Government against the Wall


For an indefinite general strike to put down the putschist government and for the cancellation of all neoliberal reforms


Statement of the Corrente Comunista Revolucionária (Section of the RCIT in Brazil), 06 june, 2018,




Brazil was hit by the biggest truck drivers strike in its history. In response to the nearly daily readjustment of diesel price implemented by the illegitimate government of Temer through the Petrobras oil company, at least six truck workers' trade unions started a nationwide strike on May 21. The strike lasted for 10 days and ended with a success due to the massive participation and the support from the majority of the population. In fact, the strike paralyzed the country into a true general strike.




Neoliberal Reforms Provoke Dramatic Price Increases




The putsch that brought down Dilma Roussef's democratically elected government of the Workers' Party, has opened a period of systematic neoliberal structural reform. Among them are the Labor Reform, massive cuts in social services, as well as a process of privatization of the national energy sector with a focus on the oil company Petrobras.


Since then, in order to guarantee the profit of its national and international shareholders, the company has started a policy to readjust fuel prices on a daily basis, following the increase in world oil prices, including diesel, gasoline, kerosene and cooking gas. As both the dollar and the price of a barrel of oil have been increasing internationally, Petrobras has readjusted the price of gasoline in the refineries 11 times in 17 days, and also the diesel for seven consecutive times. Gasoline accumulated a 16.76% rise in one month, while diesel accumulated 15.16% in a month. Such a pricing policy is being a harsh assault on the living conditions of the working class as well as the petty bourgeoisie.




Contradictory Character of the Trucker Strike




We can characterize the truckers' strike as having two contradictory factors: First, this strike had a negative element because it is a mostly petty bourgeoisie sector. Many truckers own their trucks, and so their main requirement was just to lower the price of diesel. Furthermore, the leaderships of the truckers' unions have strong ties with right-wing parties like the PSDB. It’s not a mistake to characterize this movement as a lockout. And it was these leaders who have accepted the Temer government's offer to subsidize public money only for reducing the price of diesel, without modifying the policy of readjustments with gasoline, benefiting the transport companies.


Another negative factor was the noisy presence on the streets and at the social networks of groups of truck drivers defending the return of the military regime; however we consider that this group was only a minority among the truckers.


Second, the positive element was that for the first time in many months a sectoral strike put the coup regime against the wall when the truckers turned this sectoral strike de facto into a national general strike. The country literally stopped for 10 days. It was a real mess because the supermarkets were emptied of perishable products such as fruits and vegetables, millions of chickens and pigs died of hunger due to lack of feed. Gasoline disappeared from the gas stations, transforming the main cities of the country into atypical holidays, public offices and schools, including universities cancelled classes, police vehicles themselves had difficulty filling and did not go to the streets, etc. And, even so, the strike counted on more than 90% of support of the population.


Historically the governments of Brazil since the late 19th century have not developed transportation by railways or waterways. They preferred to develop road transport and thus this system reaches at least 65 percent of the total, placing the country heavily dependent on the imperialist countries that control international oil prices.


The government's decision to send the army against the truck drivers was not completely fulfilled; thesoldiers went to the streets but did really not repressed. The strike ended only because the trade union leaders received government subsidies for diesel and froze it prices for 60 days in an agreement signed in an official document.




The Role of Trade Union Leaders and Left-wing Parties




In general, almost all left-wing parties (PSOL, PSTU, PCO) supported the truck drivers' strike, with the call that the struggle should be extended to other sectors. The PT merely gave the drivers advices on the question of the damages caused by the daily increases and denounced the government's policy, but did not call the general strike.


The great failure in this improvised general strike was not on the part of the truckers, but on the part of the CUT leadership itself. It should have taken advantage of the chance of the mobilization of the truck drivers to call for a general strike. The CUT and the other trade unions centrals together with the leftist parties missed a great chance to put that coup government down and return to democracy in order to cancel all neoliberal reform measures.


The only ones who mobilized, and even too late, were the oil workers. The oil workers 'strike began the day after the truck drivers' strike ended. However, the heavy hand of the regime imposed a fine of 2 million real per day (about 500,000 dollars) if the strike continued. Faced with such a repression, the leadership called for an end to the strike, promising to reorganize itself for the future. In practice, the semi-Bonapartist putschist regime is banning the right to strike guaranteed by the constitution.


But the regime, that never felt so weak not only still is in crisis, continues to weaken. Last Saturday, the president of Petrobras, Pedro Parente, resigned. Parente is a businessman, supporter of the rightist PSDB and representative of the international financial market. Pedro Parente was responsible for imposing the policy of daily fuel readjustment that was the factor that caused the truck drivers strike. A policy that proved to be disastrous for the government!


The Temer government, which by itself was in fact so weak, has not fallen so far because the putschist regime can not find a consensus name to take over the government. But that may change in a few days, anything is possible. Some analysts even talk about the possibility of cancelling the elections.


That is why the only correct attitude of leaders of social and political movements should not be to mobilize for the elections, but for the general strike and to put an end this putschist regime. 


* For the general indefinite general strike to put down the putschist government and for the cancellation of all neoliberal reforms!


* Not the criminalization of political demonstrations and the criminalization of social movements!


* Public safety is not the role of the Armed Forces! For the cancellation of the federal military intervention in the state of Rio de Janeiro!


* For the creation of action committees in factories, unions, neighborhoods, favelas and peripheral regions in defense of our rights and against the Government of the putschists and against any military intervention! For the creation self-defense committees of the workers and the poor in the neighborhoods and peripheries!


* Down the constitutional law that allows the military to intervene in political matters!


* For a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly!


* For a Workers and Poor Peasants Government!


* For a revolutionary Workers Party as part of a new World Party of the socialist revolution – the Fifth International!