FT-CI

Brazil: Emergency Declaration

The new accident of TAM

25/07/2007

New act of negligence by the Lula government and TAM kills nearly 200
people, among workers and passengers

Negligence by Lula’s government, through Infraero (the public
enterprise that administers Brazilian airports) and by the Air Force, as well as unbridled capitalist exploitation by the airline companies, with TAM in the lead at this moment, was the cause of the confirmed deaths of at least 200 people after a TAM airliner skidded on the landing strip of Congonhas Airport in São Paulo and crashed into the freight terminal, shared by TAM and Gol, in front of the airport. The exact number of victims among those working in the
freight terminal (around 300 employees on different shifts, and the
crash occurred while shifts were changing) is still not known, but
there is no possibility of finding survivors among the 186 passengers
and crewmembers of the plane.

Once again, workers and travelers were the ones who paid, because of
the unbridled race for profits by the airline owners and their agents,
no matter how many lives may be lost. This, and even more, the lack of
safety in the conditions in airports as well as working conditions for
airline workers in Brazil, after the worsening of the air travel
crisis with the recent accident of a Gol airplane, has been reported
by airline workers, air traffic controllers, unions and even by
international organizations.

In order to prevent tragedies like this one, hundreds of Brazilian air
traffic controllers mobilized and refused to work, as a form of
protest and to alert society, since the workers and operators are
acquainted with the serious risks entailed by the dangerous conditions
faced by the aircrews. The airline workers who mobilized were punished
and some of them imprisoned, by Lula’s government and by troops of the
Brazilian Air Force (FAB).

In the specific case of the conditions of landing strips and runways
at Congonhas Airport, it was always agreed between the air traffic
controllers and the airline workers that Infraero and the businesses
made a risky agreement to "make superficial improvements" to the
runways without closing the airport, which shows the real intentions
of the government in investing in this sector — completely aligned
with the uninterrupted lucrative interests of the airline companies,
against the minimum conditions of work and against safe conditions
for travelers.

This clash of interests is made clear when we recall that this same
month, when Nenê Constantino, the President of Gol, was charged with
involvement in money-laundering schemes and being connected to
legislators who diverted public funds, Marta Suplicy, [Lula’s]
Minister of Tourism, with complete insolence, even proposed that
passengers should "relax and enjoy," faced with the complete absence
of support from their government and the airlines for travelers who
must now approach the right to fly as a question of risking death.

It is in view of this new tragedy that we feel it is necessary to
unite the workers and their associations and unions to create bonds of
solidarity immediately between the relatives of the victims among
travelers, crewmembers and freight terminal workers, to denounce the
government and TAM as the ones really responsible for the deaths, and
so that the authorities and leaders should pay for this; to forge an
open people’s committee that can bring together different unions and
social movements to investigate this and the rest of the accidents,
and to struggle in every way possible to demand all the necessary
compensations for the relatives, up to prison sentences for these
leaders of the capitalist airlines, for the deaths. This unity,
independent of the government and the bourgeoisie, should serve to
call on the population to discuss, from the causes to the solution of
the "chaos" in air travel; to show that the race for more profits will
only be solved by radical methods, and by organizing the airline
workers for better working conditions and to oppose repression against
those who struggle. Without attacking the cause, we will not solve the
problem of commercial aviation. Only the workers can find a
fundamental way out of the air travel crisis by preventing future
tragedies resulting from the bosses’ uncontrolled search for bigger
profits.

*Translation by Yosef M.

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