No fewer than 45 million workers and young people went on strike on 14 June, throughout Brazil, while massive demonstrations were held in nearly 380 cities and towns,. All demanded the withdrawal of the « Prêvidencia » retirement pension reform, and the cancellation of the 30% reduction of the public education budget that the far-right Bolsonaro-Mourao government means to decree.
The depth of the labour revolt had imposed the united call from all the trade union confederations to strike for the withdrawal of the retirement pension reform, which is nothing but the implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s plans and obedience to financial market demands. The day before, the government had attempted a manoeuvre by presenting Congress (Parliament) with a slightly sugar-coated version of the counter-reform by Minister Paulo Guedes. This did nothing to reduce the determination of the workers and the young people, which led Wagner Freitas, secretary of the CUT (Unified Workers Central) to declare that these amendments “change nothing”. The massive character of the strike was to be seen in the full stoppage of transports and many sectors of the economy. Certain “ABC” factories – the industrial belt of
Sao Paulo – were 98% on strike. Students and teachers, who had mobilised with their organisations last 15 and 30 May against the brutal reduction in the public education budget, joined forces with the workers in the general strike.
The demand to withdraw the reform of the Prêvidencia sounded loud alongside the slogan “Fora Bolsonaro!”(Bolsonaro Out!) in all the demonstrations, while thousands of demonstrators waved photos of Lula. On 10 June, the US investigative magazine The Intercept published confidential documents that prove beyond doubt that the corrupt justice and police apparatus had indeed sentenced and jailed Lula in April 2018 in order to keep him from standing as the PT (Workers Party) candidate in the presidential elections of October 2018. “They cheated in the elections … Hands off our retirement pensions!”was the title of the newspaper Resistir, which came out the day before the strike.
The 14 June general strike in Brazil is a major event in the international class struggle. It shows that the Brazilian working class, after “giving in without a fight” in the October 2018 presidential election, which allowed for Bolsonaro’s victory, is back and fighting.
The power of its mobilisation has already imposed precise demands: the withdrawal of anti-labour and anti-youth measures and segments of unity with the organisations. It also expresses the need to be rid of Bolsonaro and his government. It is an ultra-minority government that came to power by cheating, by making use of the corrupt institutions inherited from the military dictatorship (1964-1985)* and subordinated to Washington.
In Brazil, too, this puts the perspective for a Sovereign Constituent Assembly on the agenda, in order to sweep away those institutions and to re-establish sovereignty.
* Institutions that have never been dismantled, including during the period from 2003 to 2016 when the PT was in power.