JOÃO ANTONIO FELICIO
INTERNATIONAL TRADE UNIONS CONFEDERATION (ITUC)
In behalf of the members and officers of the Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) – Center of United and Progressive Workers, a national labor center here in the Philippines and an ITUC member like the CUT – we extend our utmost and militant solidarity with the Brazilian labor movement led by CUT as well as its political party, the Partido dos Trabalhadores, amid the ongoing rightist “congressional coup” against President Dilma Rousseff and her PT-led government.
Sentro is aware that behind the anti-corruption campaign that resulted to Rousseff’s impeachment by the Chamber of Deputies last April 17 is a complex and sinister plot not only to oust her but ultimately to dismantle the PT government and discard all its vast socioeconomic achievements since the historic election of trade unionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and PT in 2003. Rousseff succeeded Lula in 2011 and continued his flagship programs marked by both progressive and more inclusive economy coupled with the strengthening of trade union and workers’ rights and the civil liberties.
But all these and other landmark socioeconomic programs that benefited and continue to benefit the majority of the Brazilian people will either be abolished or diluted when the conservatives wrest control of the government by impeaching Rousseff through trumped-up charges. Prominent personalities behind this drive include Eduardo Cunha, president of the Chamber of Deputies and architect of the impeachment; Michel Temer, Rousseff’s vice president and the acting president-in-waiting if the Senate will affirm on May 11 the Lower House’s impeachment of Rousseff; and Jair Bolsonaro, the shameless rightist congressman, bigot and apologist of Brazil’s past military dictatorship. They represent the conservative elites that want to reclaim the state power even through the backdoor or the current “coup” and will snatch back the gains painstakingly achieved by Brazil’s trade unions and other social movements. These three shady politicians are also in fact the ones who are truly involved in corruption, and not Rousseff, who is being slapped with unsubstantiated charges.
Moreover, other strategic thrust of this “coup” – as under the Brazilian Constitution, an impeachment without a qualifying crime is considered a coup – is to prevent the return of the very popular Lula in the next presidential polls in 2018.
Related to this, reflecting the frightful rising of a “new Right” or neofascism, Bolsonaro has been earning additional believers as shown in surveys among the presidential hopefuls two years from now, wherein his poll numbers have increased “from 6 percent to 8 percent since March, putting him within 20 points of the leading candidates,” a report said.
There is definitely a pressing need for the labor and social movements to stem the rising tide of rightwing politics in Latin America and elsewhere in the world – including, in fact in the United States with the like of Donald Trump and even here in the Philippines in the person of the presidential frontrunner, the budding neofascist Rodrigo Duterte. We must consolidate and strengthen our ranks to stop the overthrowing by force, deceit or “legal” maneuvers of democratic leftist or populist or pro-worker governments as we must continue fighting unjust governments.
Indeed, we must preserve and expand the gains achieved by the labor movement in the past hundred years or so as we must persevere to building just, prosperous, peaceful and democratic societies.
FRANK MERO JOSUA MATA
Chairperson Secretary General