As expected, the new far-right government led by Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) commenced with a strong blow to the rights of workers and other oppressed people. His first measure as president was to readjust the 2019 minimum wage defined by the Congress, but lowering it. He lowered the already insufficient 1006 reales to just 998 reales, a real attack on the most vulnerable sector of the working class, which will be the main target of the new administration. This was already proven by the closing of the Ministry of Labor and reinforced by the president´s declarations in which he defendedthe end of the Consolidation of the Labor Laws and Justice, as well as his defense of a new pension reform in a recent live interview. This isn’t surprising, since it comes from someone who, during the campaign, clearly said that the workers must choose between less rights and more jobs or vice versa. Bolsonaro is undoubtedly the main enemy of the Brazilian working class.
The plan attacks of the new reactionary government is even wider though, and also goes against the rights of native people. This has been made clear by the transfer of the authority of demarcation of indigenous land to the Ministry of Agriculture –led by Tereza Cristina, a strong advocate of the interests of agribusiness groups. It’s like putting a fox to guard the henhouse. In response, the Association of Indigenous People of Brazil (APIB) entered with a delegation into the Attorney General Office to try to revese that setback. We don’t trust the Judicial system, which has been one of the main accomplices of the attacks on workers and democratic liberties in the last period, but we support the indigenous people and the quilombolas(1) in their struggle for the land that is truly theirs.
Another sector that has suffered the first consequences of Bolsonaro’s government is the LGBT community, which was erased from the human rights laws through another interim measure. This, in practice, weakens the struggle against homophobia and against that kind of violence. Contrary to what happened in the inauguration ceremony, where first lady Michele Bolsonaro insisted on giving her speech in sign language, this isn’t an inclusive government. This actually is a government that will deepen the inequality between men and women, stop the struggle against misogyny, racism, homophobia and other types of discrimination. Supported by the reactionary sectors of the Evangelist churches, like the Minister of Women, Family and Human Rights, Damas Alves, that says that “boys dress in blue and girls dress in pink”.
Contrary to what the naive or malicious say, there’s no way to wish for this government to do well, because what’s good for them is the extinction of every basic right for the working class, the youth and the exploited and oppressed. The project of the new president and his allies serves the banks, the corporations, agrobusiness, religious fundamentalism. The program they want to implement –and are already implementing- is a real recipe for social chaos. The only way for things to work out for the majority of the people is with mobilizations on the streets, fighting against the austerity measures and in defense of their rights. We need greater unity of action, in the rank-and-file of the unions, student organizations, neighbourhood assemblies, etc. getting ready for the upcoming battles, without renouncing to class independence and calling on the bureaucratic leaderships that insist on negotiating a solution with the enemies of the people, as did in a recent interview the national head of the CUT(2).
There’s no possible dialogue with this government. The only possible answer is through mobilization, in a relentless struggle against its neoliberal and ultra-reactionary program. Although Bolsonaro won with the votes of many workers that didn’t see a way out of this broken system, that couldn’t stand the betrayals of the PT, that doesn’t mean that they cannot break soon with the government, once they realize that the former soldier works for the bourgeoisie and the powerful. In that moment we must be ready for the attacks that’ll come, for which the construction of a combative, feminist and socialist alternative will play a major role. Peoples from around the world have already shown their disposition to struggle, like the yellow vests in France, the Hungarian workers and the Hindu women, that started the year with a great fight against misogyny and gender-based religious discrimination. The year has just begun and it promises great challenges. Let’s fight!
Luiz Domingues, Alternativa Socialista, Rio Grande do Sul
1. Populations of descendents of African slaves escaped to the Amazon.
2. In an interview with Spanish newspaper El País, on October 18, 2018, the president of the United Central of Workers (CUT), Vagner Freitas, said that the central would look to “negotiate” with the new government and present a different proposal of pension reform.