In the midst of the largest street demonstrations Brazil has seen in decades, some of the country’s most important social movements – including the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), the Unified Workers’ Central (CUT) and the National Union of Students (UNE) – sent the following open letter to Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff on June 20, 2013.
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This week, Brazil has witnessed mobilisations across 15 capital cities and hundreds of other cities. We are in agreement with the statements coming out of these protests, which affirm the importance of these mobilisations for Brazilian democracy, because we are conscious of the fact that the changes we need in this country will come through popular mobilisation.
More than a conjectural phenomenon, the recent mobilisations are a sign of the gradual renewal of the capacity for popular struggle. It was this popular resistance that paved the way for the electoral results [of Brazil’s trade union–based Workers Party (PT)] of 2002, 2006 and 2010. Our people, not satisfied by neoliberal measures, voted for a different project. In order to implement this project, it was necessary to confront great resistance, primarily from rentist capital and neoliberal sectors that continue to have a lot of weight in society.
But it was also necessary to confront the limits imposed by last-minute allies, an internal bourgeoisie who in challenging government policies impeded the realisation of structural reforms, as is the case in the areas of urban reform and public transport
The international crisis has blocked growth, and with it the continuity of the project pushed by this broad front that, until now, has sustained the [PT] government.
The recent mobilisations are being carried out by a diverse cross section of youth who, for the first time, are participating in mobilisations. This process educates its participants, allowing them to understand the necessity of confronting those who are holding back Brazil from moving forward in this process of democratisation of wealth, of access to health, education, land, culture, political participation,and the media.
Conservative sectors within society are trying to dispute the significance of these mobilisations. The media is trying to portray the movement as anti-Dilma, as against corrupt politicians, against the wasting of public money and other demands that would impose the return of neoliberalism. We believe that there are many demands, just as there are many opinions and visions of the world present in society. We are dealing with a cry of indignation from a people historically excluded from national political life and accustomed to seeing politics as something that is damaging to society.
Given all this, President, we write to you to express our position in support of policies that guarantee the reduction of public transport fares by reducing the profits of the big companies. We are against the policies of tax exemptions for these companies.
Now is the time for the government to implement these democratic and popular demands and stimulate the participation and politicisation of society. We commit to promoting all types of debates around these issues and we place ourselves at your disposition to also debate them with the government and its institutions.
We propose the urgent convening of a national meeting, involving the participation of state governments, mayoral offices of the main capital cities and representatives of all the social movements. For our part, we are open to dialogue, and believe that this meeting is the only manner of finding a way to confront the grave urban crisis that is affecting our big cities.
The time is right. These are the largest mobilisations that the current generation has seen and other major ones will follow. We hope that the current government decides to govern with the people and not against the people.
Movimentos da Via Campesina Brasil, ADERE-MG, AP, Barão de Itararé, CIMI, CMP-MMC/SP, CMS, Coletivo Intervozes, CONEN, Consulta Popular, CTB, CUT, Fetraf, FNDC, FUP, Juventude Koinonia, Levante Popular da Juventude, MAB, MAM, MCP, MMM, MPA, MST, SENGE/PR, Sindipetro – SP, SINPAF, UBES, UBM, UJS, UNE, UNEGRO
A susccint report from the MST
Dear comrade friends of the MST and ALBA social movements.
Yesterday, June 20, over 1 million people took to the streets in 15 capitals of the country.
There is a bit of everything. In each city there is a dispute for hearts and minds. In Sao Paulo and Rio, right-wing sectors have taken the lead, attacking left militants and provoking violence to generate chaos. But in other cities the left is giving the tone.
1. The mobilisation is social, from a sector born after neoliberalism. They are young people from middle and lower classes. Workers, however, remain silent. [Young people] are a sector that communicates solely through social media and is not influenced by mass media.
2. It is the result of 12 years of class conciliation (as in Chile) which excluded the youth from political participation. And they want to participate somehow, even if it is just to walk on the streets, without repression.
3. It is a consequence of the grave structural urban crises, established by speculative Financial capital which resulted in rising rents, massive car sales financed by the banks and chaotic traffic, without public transport, where people spend two, three hours to go to work, school …
4. Nobody can control them. They have no political leadership.
5. For the moment traditional politicians are the most affected, bourgeois politics and of course the method developed by the Workers Party (PT) in the years it has been in government, all of them from right, centre and left….
6. The right infiltrates and tries to generate a climate of violence, blaming PT and [President Dilma Rouseff].
7. Dilma's government is paralysed in its politics. It only wanted to manage and now it does not know what to manage.
8. Social movements are trying to generate a political platform, to move on(see the letter to the president above) and to expand the demands in order to advance towards a political reform, a reform of the media, a tax reform and the agrarian reform.
9. Nobody knows now what is going to happen: we are going in the same direction as Spain (where the right capitalised at the ballot box — what will happen in 2014) or we are going in the direction of Argentina (2001), with advances … or we will remain in Greece in a situation of deadlock? Probably none of them, we will find a Brazilian formula, that nobody knows at the moment…
10. But, it is certain that we need changes of all sorts!
Warm regards, National Secretariat of the MST.
Translation: Ana Amorim.