On the eve of Brazil’s presidential elections, I want to express my solidarity to the trade unions, the women and the popular movements committed to defending their history, their rights and their future for a democratic Brazil.
These elections have implications that go beyond the country and concern us as the international trade union movement.
Latin America needs a democratic Brazil, leading the process of regional integration and full affirmation of democracy, freedom and human rights throughout the sub-continent.
There is no doubt that the growing season of democracies and the fight against discrimination of indigenous and Afro-descendant populations, the attainment of better working conditions, social inclusion, poverty reduction and the recognition of civil rights, in many countries of the sub-continent, coincided with the governments of Lula and of Dilma.
The experience of the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) from 2002 to 2016 has shown that it is possible to free Latin American society from the power structures of the colonial and the national oligarchies. Those elites have concentrated power and wealth in the hands of a few and spread exploitation, discrimination and misery to the many.
For these reasons, the Brazilian elections have an international resonance and attention.
Brazil has emerged from a status of a raw-material exporting country and social inequality champion, thanks to the project of the Union of the States of South America (Unasur), to the dynamic coordination of the emerging countries (BRICS), to the investments and the bilateral cooperation with some African countries, to the tenfold economic growth from the constraints imposed by the International Monetary Fund.
The path of reforms started and implemented by the governments of Lula and Dilma represented a historic turning point for Brazilians but also for the whole South America.
Over 40 million people have raised from extreme poverty and illiteracy. Education has become an actual right for everyone and everywhere, without race or social discrimination. Fundamental rights at work have been recognized and salaries, contracts and social protections have been achieved for millions of workers.
But 14 years in power for the PT is a short time compared with 500-year hegemony of the local oligarchy, heir of the powerful colonialists.
The dismissal of president Dilma Rousseff in 2016, the accusations, the arrest and exclusion of Lula from the electoral competition seem more aimed to consolidate the old system of corruption and power, to distract the public opinion from the responsibilities of a corrupted ruling class, rather than a serious and profound action that stops corruption at its roots.
We face a campaign of discredit against the PT governments, aimed to remove their democratic reforms and their social achievements. Such campaign was carried on first by the Temer government, then with the announcements and the electoral promises of Jair Bolsonaro, the right wing candidate.
The success of Bolsonaro in the first round is the result of this denigration attempt started in 2016 by the powers who wanted to restore a pre-Lula order.
This plan included, at its climax, a political use of justice to subvert the popular will and violence to suppress the voices of the opposition, in a regional and global context where the xenophobic and racist right-wing nationalist forces are reemerging. Those forces exploit humanitarian crises and emergencies to weaken the principles and the values on which democracies, freedoms and respect for human rights are based.
In Brazil we are witnessing a new phase of this subversive and anti-democratic plan, with an alliance between economic powers and religious fundamentalism, between farm industry and evangelical churches, with the support of the deep racist phenomenon of Ku Klux Klan, which sees in Bolsonaro the expression of white supremacy.
Bolsonaro is a candidate who does not skimp verbal attacks to civil rights groups, to women, to the LGBT population, Afro-descendants, indigenous. Those attacks have already turned into physical violence by some fanatics against political opponents or, simply, against people who are considered “different”.
He is a candidate who considers labour rights as a privilege. He recently stated: “Choose between less work with more rights or more work with less rights” and promised to abolish the 13th month-pay as a sole cost for the State. He also confirmed an economic policy of privatization and casualisation of labour.
We strongly support the protests of women, trade unions and social movements, in defense of democracy, human rights and freedoms.
We call on Brazilians to a responsible vote, conscious of what is really at stake.