“Progressive” Governments Against the Workers
Only days after the opening of the Soccer World Cup, the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, had to come out on national media outlets to silence critics of the multi-million dollar expenses for the mega-event. Her government became the target of millions of angry people. Stimulated by the triumph of the “garis” (street sweepers) in Rio, the working class gained confidence and a wave of protests has been unleashed, having as its main actors the Subte workers of Sao Paulo, who are themselves being severely attacked. On the day of the tournament’s inauguration, the airports of Rio announced a strike of 24 hours for a salary raise. Since the beginning of the year, discontentment has grown, with massive mobilizations from the “sin vivienda” (the homeless), from aboriginal peoples, the youth, and with real rebellions in the outskirts of big cities due to disastrous infrastructure, floods, and precarious public services. It is no wonder the (PT) Workers’ Party wasted more than US$ 15 million for the soccer world cup and there are strong denunciations of corruption against the official party and its opponents. Thousands of families have lost their homes to make way for the construction of gigantic stadiums, shopping malls, and luxurious hotels. Who can afford a ticket to one of these games? Neither the poor nor the workers, as participating in one of these events means a cost of four times more than the minimum salary (US$310). The Workers’ Party (PT) responded to the discontentment militarizing the streets and by turning their backs on the suffering of the Brazilian people. It has been decades since the last time a Soccer World Cup has been punctuated by such a class struggle in a hosting country. This Thursday, June 12th, the Leftist Front and the workers along with other currents will protest in front of the Brazilian embassy the struggle of our sisters and brothers of the working class and we will request the reinstatement of the fired subway workers in San Pablo. We are going to denounce the government and the Brazilian political caste involved in the World Cup negotiations that functions in the service of the rich and businessmen.
And What About Argentina?
Austerity measures and corruption define the Kirchners’ government, which following Rousseff’s style, has disguised itself as a progressive government. For instance, Amado Boudou, accused of appropriation of the ex-printing company Ciccone, had to go to court to be investigated by Judge Ariel Lijo. The vice-president explains his “bad luck” as a shady campaign tactic by Clarín (it is the largest newspaper in Argentina, published by the Grupo Clarín media group) and just in case he is threatening to expose and denounce other government officials. Boudou should be judge like any other Argentinian citizen, and at least he should resign from office since it is from there where favors and impunity can be acquired. It is the political bosses’ “modus operandi” to use their seats to to ensure that they will never go to jail. We have seen this type of corruption already in the case of the bribes in the Senate to vote on labor reform under President De La Rua and the explosion of Military Industries in Río Tercero during the Menem government. Of course Cristina Kirchner “did not let Boudou’s leave the nest.” It is this government—the one commanding austerity measures against workers. After January’s brutal devaluation, the government has poured all its energy into responding to businessmen’s requests, among these the tax hikes, salary ceilings, as well as the negotiation with the Paris’s Club, starting a new cycle of debts. Thursday, June 12, the Supreme Court of the United States can give a verdict on the dispute of the “vultures funds.” The government has committed itself to postponing the resolution in order to gain more time to reach a settlement payment for these speculators, the same ones recently assured by Cristina that they would not be given a penny. The crisis in the automotive industry, mainstay of the “model,” is being paid for the workers via thousands of suspensions and salary cuts. Employers do not want to lose a single penny of their earnings. It has also been shown by the food companies that, despite maintaining its high level sales, they refuse the 40% salary increase requested by the workers.
Nervous Businessmen and Unions’ Bureaucrats
The main ally of the government is the union bureaucracy of the CGT, which purports to act as a force aiding employers to break the workers’ resistance. The recent meeting of industrial unions led by the Kirchnerist Ricardo Pignanelli of SMATA takes the Gestamp’s case as a witness to denounce what he called, in the best dictatorship style: “the infiltration" of the left” in factories and companies. Not only did the "cristinistas" (people who support Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner president) leaders participate in the meeting but there were also "massistas" (people supporting Massa), such as Roberti, deputy of Frente Renovador. These union bureaucrats and their businessmen friends are really worried. They did not expect such a resistance from the dismissed Gestamp’s workers, supported by the Left and from workers of the northern region, who managed to stop production at major automakers’ facilities.
Furthermore, the actions of the national government and SMATA, which are at the service of the Spanish company, managed to have Scioli reverse the compulsory conciliation in favor of the reinstatement of the dismissed workers. Moreover, businessmen and bureaucrats are wrong to think they will make progress in other factories without the working class standing up to their attacks. There is a willingness to fight, a new breed of combative workers and there will be resistance.
On its part the opposition, Moyano’s CGT and Micheli’s CTA, remain in a truce. Their game is different. Some sided with Massa and others sided with Scioli, with Binner and even De La Sota, who just brutally repress the popular sectors and the Left, which demonstrated against the new environmental law favoring the multinational Monsanto. The only voice against this is the FIT. We demand the immediate release of detained comrades, including three members of the PTS.
For a New Massive and Unitary National Meeting
Argentina and Brazil have shown how to unmask these governments that call themselves progressive. For the PTS and the FIT the challenge is to fight within the working class and youth for the political independence of the working class: we must turn our backs on the parties that aspire to govern at the service of entrepreneurs.
We are at the front line supporting those who struggle. We call to redouble the efforts to fight for the reinstatement of the dismissed workers of Gestamp, Calsa, Shell and VW Córdoba and to support the workers of Lear (Pacheco), the Neuquen Ceramic Company, and Steels Zapla Neuquén (Jujuy), as well as to propel the fight against wage caps and to deepen the strike at the Food Industry Union for the salary increase.
It has been proposed to develop the initiated path in Atlanta at the Fighting Union Meeting and to call for a new, massive, and unitary national meeting, at which all the country’s activists can meet. Combative currents such as the PO have to join this initiative. We can wait no longer. Now we have to raise an alternative to the bureaucracy and fight for the recovery of trade unions to be useful tools for class struggle. We need to promote in all workplaces a new national strike of 36 hours, with roadblocks and mobilizations, against austerity measures, and make the capitalists pay for the crisis. No more repression of activists. Acquittal for the Las Heras oil refinery workers.