[6/18/05]: MST Update #92 An Option for the Brazilian People
Dear friends of the MST,
In 2002, we elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva as President of Brazil. It was the first time that a representative of the people, a leader of the working class, assumed command of the nation. During the electoral campaign, however, the release of his “Letter to the Brazilians‿, proved Lula’s intentions to guarantee to international creditors and the Brazilian market a continuation of many of the same measures that marked Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s administration.
Even though the Brazilian people noticed these signs, they remained full of hope and high expectations and voted for Lula in hopes of changing the political economy. As months passed, ideals of making change for the benefit of social justice diminished as quickly as interest rates rose. It became clear that a clearly neoliberal policy was necessary, one based around containing rising interest rates – the basic SELIC rate (similar to the US Fed Funds Rate) remains at 19.75% and is considered the highest in the world – to stimulate exports and guarantee a primary surplus, one which is expected to reach 83 Billion Reais (approximately 35 Billion US Dollars) in 2005. The country’s use of resources for improving Agrarian Reform, education, public health, sanitation and infrastructure fell by the wayside.
On the other hand, a foreign policy of dialogue with Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and popular movements in Equador and Bolivia left the transnational capital and George W. Bush’s United States government restless.
In order to calm them down and guarantee the government’s smooth functioning, alliances were made with conservative sectors of politics and society, including the press. The base of this government no longer consisted only of popular movements and civil society, even though history shows that the National Congress has never failed to approve a bill for which it could obtain public support.
With the allegations of corruption that have spread over the last two weeks, the perimeter has been armed. The elite used the declarations of Roberto Jefferson (PTB), from within the pro-government base, to create a smoke screen and weaken Lula’s government, even raising the possibility of impeachment.
The MST encourages investigation of all allegations, whatever the consequences may be. It is, however, clear that the right has used this situation to its advantage in anticipation of upcoming elections. They will either invest themselves in the weakening of the government and resort to consolidating themselves behind one candidate, or they will make a new pact with the establishment of more right-wing politics and without a change in the economy. A clear example of this type of policy is the proposal to privatize the Postal Service as a way of avoiding corruption, as such following the rules of neoliberal change.
We stand against corruption, but we are also opposed to this kind of underhandedness. As such, we advocate for the investigation of all allegations of corruption against the Lula administration as well as against all previous administrations and particularly that of FHC.
This is a moment of decision. We are dealing with conflicting plans. The government can amplify the policies it has employed from its beginning until now, or it can come to the side of the people and take up again its campaign promises to the 53 million Brazilians who elected Lula. We must take to the streets to show our support for making decisions that prioritize changing the political economy and fulfilling social rights. We will insist that the government prove that it stands with the people in relation to democratization and the defense of nationalized business and social rights, in favor of democratic political reform and Agrarian Reform!
With a warm embrace,
The National Secretary of the MST
Mobilization in Goiâna
On July 1st, during the Congress of the National Students’ Union, the Coordinator of Social Movements (CMS) with carry out a protest march against misrepresentation and corruption within the government and in favor of changing economic policy.
Pará Justice upholds verdict that will leave 10,000 families homeless
The Pará Judiciary decided to uphold the verdict of reintegration of possession in the southeast of the state. This is a significant move against workers and rural workers: over 20,000 people will find themselves without shelter. Among the chosen farms are areas of expropriation, already established as unproductive, and some that use slave labor.
Translated by Friends of the MST volunteer E. Brennan Dorn