[12/04/08] MST Informa #157: The social movements want a new development model

We of the MST along with the central unions, student organizations, peoples’ movements, and groups from civil society, are putting together a document with concerns around the country’s current social and economic picture and proposals to overcome the worldwide economic crisis. We demand that the country change the macroeconomic policy of neoliberalism and build a new model of national development, based on income distribution, job creation, and strengthening of the internal market. In the past week, we participated in a meeting with the federal government and took the opportunity to present this document, signed by more than 50 groups with proposals for our country in the face of this crisis.

Our participation in the meeting does not mean any type of support for any candidate. “We are concerned with the future of our country, that will not be resolved from election to election, but with a new rise of the mass movement to demand structural changes and a national project”, states Marina dos Santos, of the national MST leadership, who read the document during the meeting. Ministers Luiz Dulci (General Secretariat), Dilma Roussef (Chief of Staff) and Guido Mantega (Agriculture) were present.

LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL MOVEMENTS PRESENTED IN A MEETING WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT We compliment the Federal Government for taking the initiative to hear the social movements and union movements, the students, peoples’, pastoral, movements and the groups that are organizing our people to confront the serious crisis that we are already feeling – and everything leads us to believe will deepen in our economy, our society, and especially among the Brazilian people.

We want to take advantage of this opportunity to present our concrete proposals that the Federal Government should take to preserve, above all, the people’s interests and not just businesses and the profits of capital.

The set of these proposals is presented in the general spirit that we should confront the crisis by changing the macroeconomic policy of a neoliberal nature and start building a new model for national development, based on other parameters, above all on income distribution, job creation, and strengthening of the internal market.

Our basic concern is that our change should achieve concrete measures aimed at improving the living standards of our people, and ensure rights to free public education that is democratic and of high quality at every level, dignified housing, access to culture, and urban and agrarian reforms.

Unfortunately, the majority of our people have no access to these basic rights. We know that powerful interests of local capitalists, of transnational corporations, and above all of the financial system, concentrate wealth and more and more and prevent our people from enjoying the wealth that they produce.

We are already tired of so much capitalist domination and now we are watching the financial crises and the offensive by interests of the empire that controls the wealth of nature, minerals, waters, seeds, oil, energy and the result of our work.

Faced with this situation, we want to present to you some concrete proposals so that we can resolve, in fact, the people’s problems and prevent the transnational corporations and the banks from transferring the cost of the crisis to the people:

Proposals from the international groups:

1. As a response to the crisis we demand that the strengthening of the strategy of regional integration that is embodied in the mechanisms such as MERCOSUL, UNASUL and ALBA.

2. We support measures such as the substitution of the dollar for local currencies in commercial transactions, such as Brazil and Argentina recently did, and we suggest that this measure should be adopted by the countries of Latin America.

3. We demand the speediest possible consolidation of the Bank of the South, as an agent that promotes regional development and that helps the growth of the internal market among the countries of Latin America and as a mechanism for controlling our reserves, to prevent speculation by the banks, by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and by the interests of U.S. capital.

4. We affirm that the current economic and financial crisis is the responsibility of the central countries and of the organizations directed by them such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank, and the IMF. We demand a new international order that respects the sovereignty of peoples and of nations.

5. We ask for your persistence and commitment for the immediate withdrawal of all the foreign forces from Haiti. No country of Latin America should have bases and a foreign military presence. We propose, in its place, an international solidarity fund for the economic and social reconstruction of that country. We also present our opposition to the reactivation of the Fourth Naval Fleet of the United States in the waters of Latin America.

Proposals for internal policies:

1. Control and immediately reduce interest rates.

2. Impose strict control over the movement of international speculative capital, instituting quarantines and preventing the free movement, penalizing their earnings with high taxes.

3. We demand that all the governments use their natural wealth, from energy, oil, and minerals, to create solidarity funds to invest in the definitive solution for the problems of the people such as the right to jobs, education, land, and housing. For this purpose, the Brazilian government needs to immediately cancel the new auction of oil that is scheduled for December 18.

4. The federal government must revise the policy of maintenance of the primary surplus that is an old discredited orientation of the IMF – one of the bodies responsible for the international economic crisis. And we must use the funds from the primary surplus to make huge governmental investments in the construction of public transportation and popular housing for low income people, thus giving support to urban and agrarian reform, encouraging the production of food by family and peasant farming. Massive investments are necessary in the construction of schools, hiring teachers to provide universal access to education for our youth at all levels in public schools that are free and of high quality.

5. We demand that the government establish goals for the opening of new jobs, through a broad program of incentives for the creation of formal employment, especially for youth. To immediately readjust the minimum wage and the social security benefits as the main way of distributing income to the poorest.

6. Control the prices of farm products paid to the small producers, implementing a massive program of guarantees for food purchases, through CONAB. Today the international corporations that control farm trade are penalizing the farmers, reducing by 30% on average the prices paid for milk, corn, pork, and poultry. But the prices continue to rise in the supermarket.

7. Revoke the Kandir Law and return to taxing the exports of agricultural raw materials and minerals so that the populations is not penalized to encourage their export.

8. The Federal Government cannot use public money to subsidize and help save the banks and speculating corporations that always earned a lot of money and now want to transfer the burden of the crisis to all of society. The ones who always defended the market as the regulating god should now assume the consequences of it. In this sense the public banks (National Development Bank) should be oriented not to help big capital but to work for the benefit of all the people.

9. Reduce the work day throughout the country and in all sectors, without reducing wages, as one of the ways to create job openings. And strongly penalize the businesses that are laying people off.

10. The media continues to be concentrated in the hands of a few economic groups. This situation reinforces the diffusion of a unique way of thinking that privileges profit to the detriment of people and excludes the visions of social segments and their organizations from the public debate. To reverse this situation and place the media at the service of society, we need to broaden the people’s control over the concessions of radio and TV, strengthen public communication and ensure conditions for the functioning of community radio stations, and end the repression over them. For all of this, it’s urgent that the federal government convoke the National Communication Conference.

11. To guarantee the territories and the physical and cultural integrity of the indigenous peoples and quilombos as the Constitution specifies, the Federal Government must continue to demarcate the territories and bring about the non-interference in these territories throughout the country, without ceding to the growing pressures of the anti-indigenous sectors, which are political as well as economic. In the struggle for their territorial rights, the indigenous peoples and quilombo communities have confronted discriminatory violence that is increasingly stronger throughout the country. We call special attention at this time to the urgency of demarcating the traditional lands of the indigenous Guarani Kaiowá people who live in Mato Grosso do Sul. Currently, they are confined in small portions of land and mainly for this reason there is a high incidence of suicide among the people.

12. Hold a public hearing on the public debt to launch the technical and legal bases for the sovereign renegotiation of its amount and its payment, considering the historic, social, and environmental debts of which the working people are the creditors.

13. We demand a political reform that broadens the spaces for the people’s participation in political decisions. We need a reform that is not only electoral but which broadens the instruments of direct and participatory democracy.

14. In times of crisis, there is a predatory onslaught against our natural resources as a form of easy and rapid accumulation. For this reason, we do not accept the irresponsible proposals for changes in the environmental legislation on the part of representatives of agribusiness, who intend to reduce the areas of legal reserves in Amazonia and the areas of hillside, mountaintops and the fertile valleys that remain of the Atlantic Forest. We propose the creation of a policy of preservation and recuperation of the Brazilian biomass.

15. We are against the criminalization of poverty and of the social movements. For the end of violence and for the free right of protest of those who struggle in defense of economic, social, and cultural rights of the people.

We hope that the government helps to unleash a broad process of discussion in society, in all the segments of society so that the Brazilian people perceive the seriousness of the crisis, mobilize themselves and struggle for changes.

Sincerely, Via Campesina Assembléia Popular – AP Coordenação dos Movimentos Sociais – CMS Grito dos Excluídos Continental Grito dos Excluídos Brasil Associação Nacional de Ong’s – ABONG Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST Central Única dos Trabalhadores – CUT União Nacional dos Estudantes – UNE Marcha Mundial de Mulheres – MMM Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil – CTB Central Geral dos Trabalhadores do Brasil – CGTB Central de Movimentos Populares – CMP Associação Brasileira de Imprensa – ABI Confederação das Associações das Associações de Moradores – CONAM Caritas Brasileira CNBB/Pastorais Sociais Comissão Pastoral da Terra – CPT Conselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores – MPA Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB Movimento das Mulheres Camponesas – MMC União Brasileira de Mulheres – UBM Coordenação Nacional de Entidades Negras – CONEN Movimento dos Trabalhadores Desempregados – MTD Movimento Trabalhadores Sem Teto – MTST União Nacional Moradia Popular – UNMP Confederação Nacional das Associações de Moradores – CONAM Movimento Nacional de Luta por Moradia – MNLM Ação Cidadania Conselho Brasileiro de Solidariedade com Povos que Lutam pela Paz – CEBRAPAZ Associação Brasileira de Rádios Comunitárias – ABRAÇO Coletivo Brasil de Comunicação – INTERVOZES Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais Jubileu Sul Brasil Movimento pela Libertação dos Sem Terras – MLST União Estudantes Secundaristas – UBES União Juventude Socialista – UJS Evangélicos pela Justiça – EPJ União nacional de Entidades Negras – UNEGRO Federação Estudantes de Agronomia do Brasil – FEAB Pastoral da Juventude do Meio Rural – PJR Associação dos Estudantes de Engenharia Florestal – ABEEF Confederação Nacional Trabalhadores Entidades de Ensino – CONTEE Confederação Nacional Trabalhadores da Educação – CNTE Confederação Nacional do Ramo Químico – CNQ/CUT Federação Única dos Petroleiros – FUP Sindicato Nacional dos Aposentados e Pensionistas – SINTAP/CUT Associação Nacional de Pós-graduandos – ANPG Confederação Nacional dos Metalúrgicos – CNM/CUT Movimento Camponês Popular – MCP Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira – COIAB Conselho Indigenista de Roraima – CIR Federação Trabalhadores Metalúrgicos do Rio Grande do Sul Ação Franciscana de Ecologia e Solidariedade Instituto Nacional Estudos Sócio-econômicos - INESC