Lula Calls for Policies Centered on the Working Class to Push Brazil Forward

Source:  TeleSUR
September 4 2017

Lula caravan of hope 4.jpgLula greets people from Banabuiu, a countryside town in the state of
Ceara, Brazil. | Photo: @CarlosZarattini

As Lula’s Caravan of Hope tour winds down, the former President vows to fight for the rights of the poorest.

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in an exclusive interview with teleSUR, has called for the restoration of the social policies implemented during the 12 years of the Workers’ Party, or PT, government in Brazil.

RELATED: Lula Draws Biggest Crowd Yet and Blasts ‘Sellout’ Temer Government

These policies, he said, are the only way to set the country towards growing economic development.

The poor are the solution

The former president recalled that his government was able to advance a social and work policy that resulted in the creation of 22 million jobs and about 6 million microentrepreneurs. Lula affirmed that it is through the creation of jobs, that the economy will be re-energized and will advance the country’s development.

“The poor are not the problem, the poor are the solution, when we include the poor everything improves,” said the Brazilian popular leader.

Lula has been carrying out a “Caravan of Hope” bus tour across northeastern Brazil. A much poorer region than the rest of the country, the northeast has been a reliable base for the Workers Party and Lula, who was born in the poverty-blighted state of Pernambuco.

The need to be with the people

“I learned that someone who wants to govern this country must walk and meet with the people to create a government program that (works alongside) social movements” the leader said. “Traveling is learning again.”

Lula explained that in order to do politics, one has to be with the people, adding that the caravan has allowed him to know firsthand the current situation in the country, where “conditions have now deteriorated (because) policies of inclusion are being decimated by the government.”

The Brazilian ex-president said that the trial against him — a number of corruption allegations that he has said there is no evidence for — is part of a campaign against him, but despite it, he will continue to defend the rights of the poorest.

RELATED: Lula’s Caravan of Hope Reaches Final Destination

Lula has also said that the allegations have been planted against him so that he is barred from running for president in the upcoming elections, given that he holds the lead in polls.

As such, Lula condemned the actions of the country’s justice system, saying they only respond to the interests of the small, ruling elites that have been the only ones to benefit from the economic policies of de facto president, Michel Temer.

Brazilian Social Movements Turn Out In Show of Support for Venezuela

Source: TeleSUR
Published 1 September 2017

brazil supports venezuela.jpgStudents from 83 organizations and 42 countries, gathered in Brazil last
month, in solidarity with Venezuela. | Photo: Twitter / @MST_Oficial

“We want to position ourselves, to put, above all, the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle that unifies us,” said the event’s organizers.

Social movements in Brazil have turned out to show solidarity with Venezuela, demonstrating in Sao Paulo in support of Venezuela’s sovereignty and its democratic process.

RELATED: Maduro Invites All to World Solidarity Summit with Venezuela

The Brazilian Committee for Peace in Venezuelaorganized the event, calling on “the people of Brazil to cooperate in the defense of democracy and self-determination of Venezuelans, their right to live in peace and to define their own destiny.”

In a statement, the committee announced, “We want to position ourselves, to put, above all, the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle that unifies us.”

“The Brazilian Committee for Peace in Venezuela’s event begins.”

Social movements and political parties including the Landless Workers Movement (MST), Popular Front Brazil and People Without Fear have been attending the rally.

“What is happening in Venezuela is an offense … both externally, international, imperialist and interventionist, as well as internally, in the opposition, which has carried various acts of violence,” said Paola Estrada, from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

Other speakers publicly denounced actions targeting Venezuela by the U.S. government, including the sanctions announced last week, as well as threats of military intervention made earlier this month by the U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Ex-Chancellor Celso Amorim is present (at our event). Amorim was Foreign Minister of Itamar Franco under the two Lula governments, and Defense Minister (under) Dilma Rousseff.”

“At the moment when the fascist Trump speaks of ‘military options’ against our neighboring nation, we cannot hesitate to defend the peace of the Bolivarian revolution,” said the founder of the Barón de Itararé Center for Studies in Alternative Media, Altamiro Borges.

‘Unacceptable’ for Trump to Threaten Venezuela Says Lula

lula caravan of hope 2.jpg

Lula visits the Brazilian state of Bahia during his “Caravan of Hope” tour. | Photo: @LulapeloBrasil

Source:  TeleSUR
August 21 2017

Lula said that Venezuela’s institutional crisis should be overcome “through dialogue and political negotiation.”

Still on the first leg of his “Caravan of Hope” tour, which will take him through nine Brazilian states in the northeast of the country, Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has denounced military threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump against Venezuela.

RELATED: ‘Brazil Needs Credible Government’: Lula on Presidential Tour

In defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty and the right of its people to determine their country’s fate, Lula stated, “It’s unacceptable that Donald Trump makes military threats on Venezuela or any country, anywhere in the world,” according to Brasil de Fato.

He added that if the country finds itself amid an “institutional crisis, they should seek to overcome it through dialogue and political negotiation, always respecting the officials who were elected by popular vote, within democratic rules, as was the case of President Hugo Chavez and President Nicolas Maduro.”

Lula recalled similar incidents in Venezuela in 2003, during his first term as president of Brazil. To help resolve the crisis, Lula proposed the formation of a group of countries that held the best interest of Venezuela’s sovereignty to help negotiate a peaceful solution.

However, the former head of state admitted that, as of today, Brazil is in no moral position to offer any such assistance to Venezuela’s internal affairs.

“How ridiculous it is for an illegitimate coup government, enemy of its own people, to want to school Venezuela on the terms of democracy,” Lula said, referring the unelected government of Michel Temer.

He said that only when Brazil itself, with democratic participation from all sectors of society, elects a president will it be able to collaborate with countries such as Venezuela to help restore peace and stability.

RELATED:Future of Venezuela Rests in the Hands of the People: Maduro

Meanwhile, Temer has met with Paraguayan President Horacio Cartes and both men have reaffirmed that they do not recognize the ANC in Venezuela, which was elected by over eight million Venezuelans on July 30 as a means to achieving peace in the country and intensifying citizen participation.

In a joint communique issued after their meeting, Temer and Cartes also reiterated their support for both the decision of the Mercosur trade bloc to suspend Venezuela and the so-called “Lima Declaration” that twelve regional countries signed on Aug. 8, condemning what they called “the rupture of the Venezuelan democratic order.” These are the same right-wing countries that, led by the United States, were unable to have Venezuela censured in the Organization of American States.

According to Folha de Sao Paulo, Temer’s administration was considering sanctions on the import of Venezuelan oil derivatives of over US$220 million, which constituted more than half of Brazilian imports from Venezuela in 2016. However, the idea has been scrapped due to worries of the adverse effects it will have on the population.


Lula Begins ‘Caravan of Hope’ Tour Through 25 Brazilian Cities

supporters of brazil's workers party.jpg

Supporters of Brazil’s Worker’s Party at a rally. | Photo: AFP

Source:  TeleSUR
17 August 2017

The caravan will look to identify needs and struggles, and stimulate resistance against the unelected Temer government.

The former President of Brazil and founder of the Workers Party, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva embarked on the “Caravan of Hope” tour which will take him through nine states and 25 cities in Northern Brazil.

RELATED:Lula Pulls 6 Points Ahead in Brazil’s Opinion Polls

The caravan’s first stop is in Salvador, and will continue until the last stop in Sao Luis do Maranhao on September 5th.

According to Marcio Macedo, who is the current Workers Party Vice President and the coordinator of the caravan, the journey will have the dual aim of meeting with mayors, governors, and officials in the region, as well as identifying the legacy of the Lula and Dilma Workers Party government, and identify needs and struggles that have set in as a result of the unelected Michel Temer government.

The project looks to both stimulate resistance, and formulate future strategy.

“Both the Workers Party and Lula are imbued with the desire to bring a little hope to the Brazilian people, showing that it is possible to reconstruct a national project overcoming hatred and intolerance,” Macedo said.

Sao Paulo Mayor Fernando Haddad spoke on the need for the Workers Party to formulate a strategy in close coordination with the needs of the people.

“It cannot be bureaucratic. There must be more caution, more humility, and to process everything with generosity, including to incorporate the criticism that arises from the people, the workers, and to take note of the errors they point out,” Haddad said.

For many long-time observers, the Caravan of Hope is an effort to echo and recall Lula and the Worker’s Party’s origins, when Lula began the Caravan of Citizenship in 1992 to help construct the social programs that defined his government.

Lula was recently charged with alleged corruption, and handed a nine-and-a-half year prison sentence. In spite of this, he is the highest polling candidate for the upcoming 2018 presidential elections.

Both he, his lawyers and his supporters, have repeatedly argued that the accusations against him are fabricated and part of a campaign to prevent him running again for president in the elections.


94% of Brazilians Say Temer Doesn’t Represent the People: Poll

Source:  TeleSUR

August 13 2017

michel temerSenate-imposed Brazilian president Michel Temer. | Photo: Reuters

Some 86 percent of respondents consider the impeachment of democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff as a clear indicator that democracy is being ignored.

The latest Ipsos poll published by one of Brazil’s most widely read newspapers, State of Sao Paulo, has indicated that democracy is not being respected in the country, showing that the nation is currently being governed by politicians who usurped power, according to Brasil 24/7.

RELATED:  Brazil’s Michel Temer Hits a New Low with a 2% Approval Rating

The poll shows that 86 percent of respondents consider the impeachment of democratically-elected President Dilma Rousseff a clear indicator that the terms of democracy have been systematically ignored in Brazil.

Some 94 percent of respondents consider that the current federal government, led by senate-imposed president Michel Temer does not represent the will of the people.

Published a little more than a year prior to the 2018 presidential election, the poll textually noted that “the wave of negativism contaminates public perception about democracy: only half of the population considers that this is the best system for Brazil, and a third affirms that it is not.”

In an odd twist, the research also showed that while 74 percent of the population is against compulsory voting, just 6 percent of voters feel that they are being properly represented by politicians whom they voted for.

While nine in every 10 voters agreed that Brazil has enough resources to be a first world country, they also concurred that the country is prevented from attaining such status due to “corruption.”

Rupak Patitunda, a researcher who helped coordinate the poll, stated that public opinion clearly illustrates that the type of democracy practiced in Brazil “is not representative,” adding that the “expectation” of this type of government is not adhered to by politicians.

Bribery charge investigation

The poll comes one week after Temer held meetings with 35 representatives of the lower house; lunched with 58 rural caucus members; dined with 100 lower house members renowned for having little influence in the government body, hence, are prone to vote in accordance with those who support their projects; and relieved 10 ministers of their duties for a 24-hour period just to get enough votes in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies to beat a bribery charge investigation.

From early June to the end of July, Temer’s administration also authorized some US$1.3 billion in parliamentary amendment projects in order to appease lawmakers and secure the votes he needed to beat the bribery charges.

RELATED:  35 Million-Strong Stike Against Temer’s Neoliberal Reforms Brings Brazil to a Halt

The people should unite

After a period of sharp political polarization, no less than 88 percent of respondents agreed that “people should unite behind common causes and not fight over political party A and political party B,” for such battles do not address the “real problems” of the country.

The data obtained from the latest Ipsos poll is part of a public opinion project called Brazil Pulse, which has been undertaken since 2005. A total of 1,200 people were questioned in 72 municipalities between July 1 and 14. The margin for error is three percentage points more or less.

Cuba Expresses Solidarity with Nicolas Maduro and Lula da Silva.

raul 20.jpeg

The Cuban president has condemned the attempts to destabilize Venezuela.

Source:   Cuba Inside the World
July 15 2017

President Raul Castro has repeated Cuba’s support for the Venezuelan government as it faces “an unconventional war” led by “imperialism” and the country’s “oligarchy” in a bid to topple President Nicolas Maduro with a coup.

RELATED: Ecuador Ratifies Respect for Venezuela’s Sovereignty

During a speech marking the end of the Cuban Congress’s extraordinary session, Castro condemned the opposition violence initiated in April on the streets of Caracas and other cities as “fascists actions.”

He mentioned the videos showing several young Venezuelans being burnt alive during anti-Maduro protests.

He urged the opposition to stop the “terrorist violence” designed “to oust” the president, and called for Maduro’s opponents to accept the Bolivarian government’s offer of dialogue.

Stop attacking Venezuela

Castro also asked the Organization of American States and its Secretary General Luis Almagro to “stop attacking Venezuela” and “manipulating reality.”

“Venezuela’s legitimate right to find a peaceful solution to its domestic affairs should be respected with no foreign interference,” he said, adding that only the sovereign Venezuelan people are entitled to use the right to self-determination.

Cuba’s President also condemned the “political persecution” of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, recently condemned to a 9-year prison sentence over bribeery and money-laundering charges.

Lula denies any wrongdoing.

Brazil freezes its future

Source:  Granma
December 19 2016

by: Laura Bécquer Paseiro |

Progressive forces and social movements, like Clara in Aqua­rius, have entered a new stage in which the only option is resistance to injustice.

brazilians protest dec 2016.jpg
Protests have erupted across Brazil in opposition to the proposed Constitutional amendment. Photo: Reuters

Brazil hits rock bottom

In the film Aquarius by Kleber Mendoca, Clara represents resistance to the imposition of injustice, in an unfavorable environment. Even though the movie isn’t an explicit condemnation of the current political situation in Brazil, the character played by Sonia Braga captures the reality of a country that has hit rock bottom and has not found a way to escape the crisis it is experiencing.

Restricting public spending for the next 20 years

The panorama has continued to worsen since the shady impeachment of Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff. After assuming the position of Interim President, Michel Temer from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, promised to “tighten belts” in the country of some 200 million inhabitants, under the pretext of “getting the economy on track.” One of the measures he began pushing as soon as he reached the Planalto executive headquarters was a proposed Constitutional amendment (PEC), which was approved December 13, by the Senate.

The most questioned issue within the amendment is a fiscal reform that restricts public spending for the next 20 years, beginning this coming year. This reform would be the most far-reaching in decades and was defended tooth and nail by Temer, as the only way to overcome the deep economic crisis – with stagnation, a falling GDP, and no growth – in a country once considered an example for the world.

A dangerous regression of social gains

On one hand, the administration is promising to generate employment and attract investment to reactivate the spent economy, while on the other, limits were established on the amount the state can invest in health and education, which means a dangerous regression in terms of social gains for the disadvantaged.

These expenditures to social programs in sensitive areas are considered a burden by the Temer administration.

Real minimum wage cannot be changed for the next 20 years

“The 2017 state budget will be the same as that of 2016 plus adjustments for inflation. In this context, the minimum wage cannot be changed for the next 20 years, maintaining its current level of 880 reales (275 dollars) monthly. Until now, this wage was calculated by adding the inflation rate and the real GDP growth rate, annually, but with the approval of the reform, this salary cannot be increased more than the inflation rate, “under any concept whatsoever,” according to the specialized website Brasil de Fato.

Another detail is that the amendment, at this time, only affects the federal government, although such a reform at the state level has not been ruled out.

Changes in education

Temer has warned that if the spending ceiling is not respected, public resources and the hiring of staff could be denied, among other provisions. His plans also include changes in education, with subjects like Sociology, Physical Education, and Arts being made optional, not obligatory.

Laura Carvalho, who holds a PhD in Economics from the New School for Social Research in New York, emphasizes that improving efficiency requires effort and ability, which is not outlined in the law that simply limits spending.

The amendment – an inflexible burden

“No country has implemented a rule like this, much less for 20 years. Some nations have adopted measures to stimulate growth, but generally they are effective for only a few years, taking into account an increase in the GDP and other economic indicators. Moreover, no country has a rule about spending in its Constitution,” she wrote in her article on the amendment, published on the Brasil de Fato site.

Carvalho warns that, in the long term, the GDP will again grow, making the amendment an inflexible burden, absolutely unnecessary to the economy.

Another element she identifies is that, according to a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2012, countries with the most rigid fiscal regulations tend to suffer as a result of the government’s financial maneuvers, which lead to off-budget expenditures and corruption.

“The country already has auditing, supervision, and planning mechanisms, in addition to annual budget goals. It’s not enough to make a law on the issue, it is imperative that there be a desire on the part of governments to strengthen those based on the transparency of fiscal policies,” Carvalho insisted.

Protests across the entire country

For now, voices speaking up against the draconian measure can be heard across the entire country. Protests have taken place in Alagoas, Bahía, Ceará, Espíritu Santo, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais, Pará, Per­nam­buco, Río Grande do Sul, Roraima and Sergipe. Also making headlines is repression by the interim Temer government against its own citizens.

The only place in the world where the direction being taken has been applauded is in Washington, at IMF headquarters, with its director Christine Lagarde, saying she was encouraged by the focus of the reforms.

Progressive forces and social movements, like Clara in Aqua­rius, have entered a new stage in which the only option is resistance to injustice.