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Issue #1757      November 16, 2016

Brazil

General strike begins

Eight Brazilian trade union federations led a general strike last Sunday in protest at unelected President Michel Temer’s austerity “reforms.” Protests were held in at least 19 of Brazil’s 26 states against congressional Bill PEC 241, which will freeze public spending for the next 20 years.

Main union federation the Unified Workers Central (CUT) – allied to the Workers Party (PT) – and the smaller CGTB and CTB were among the organisations leading the national walkout.

CUT general secretary Sergio Nobre attacked government plans to cut wages, privatise public-sector companies and utilities, hand over the huge “pre-salt” marine oil reserves to transnationals and slash investment in essential public services such as health and education.

“With these neo-liberal initiatives, the working class must shoulder the costs of a regressive and authoritarian fiscal adjustment policy which, as we have come to show, constitutes the real objective of the coup against the constitutional president Dilma Rousseff,” said Mr Nobre.

Brazil’s congress passed legislation abolishing the minimum 30 percent government stake in oil-drilling operations. Elected President Ms Rousseff of the PT was impeached by the Senate on August 30 over minor budget-juggling allegations.

Her quisling vice-president Mr Temer – already heading a scandal-ridden interim government – was sworn in hours later.

Several senior members of his PMDB party are either implicated in corruption at state oil company Petrobras or have been exposed as working to whitewash others’ part in it.

Prosecutors have tried to tar Ms Rousseff’s PT predecessor Luis Inacio Lula da Silva with the same brush in a bid to stop him standing for the presidency again in 2018.

But his supporters have launched their campaign for “a just Brazil for all and for Lula.” “Defending Lula’s rights is to defend the rights of all Brazilians,” organisers said in a statement.

That came as allegations broke that Mr Temer had taken a £235,000 bribe.

In September, a national newspaper reported Otavio Azevedo’s testimony, given as part of a plea bargain deal, that he had made the payment to Ms Rousseff.

Buther lawyers filed documents with the electoral court suggesting that Mr Azevedo had in fact deposited the money in the PMDB general election fund.

Morning Star

Next article – Trumpism, the class struggle and Australia – Statement, CPA

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