Cuba Expresses Solidarity with Nicolas Maduro and Lula da Silva.

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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 | laura@granma.cu

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

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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.

Brazil Social Movements Planning General Strike for November

Source:  The Real News Network

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and others are ramping up opposition to the coup government, says the MST’s Ana Moraes

What is the MST?

Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) in Portugueseis a mass social movement, formed by rural workers and by all those who want to fight for land reform and against injustice and social inequality in rural areas.

The MST was born through a process of occupying latifundios (large landed estates) and become a national movement in 1984.  Over more than two decades , the movement has led more than 2,500 land occupations, with about 370,000 families – families that today settled on 7.5 million hectares of land that they won as a result of the occupations. Through their organizing, these families continue to push for schools, credit for agricultural production and cooperatives, and access to health care.

Currently, there are approximately 900 encampment holding 150,000 landless families in Brazil.  Those camped, as well as those already settled, remain mobilized, ready to exercise their full citizenship, by fighting for the realization of their political, social economic, environmental and cultural rights.

The Friends of the MST (FMST)

The Friends of the MST (FMST) is a network of individuals and organizations that support the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) in the struggle for social and economic justice while securing respect for human rights. The FMST works to build solidarity and educate the public in the US and English-speaking world in order to raise the international profile of the MST. The FMST has a direct relationship to the MST and is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization.

Tens of Thousands Protest Brazil’s Temer on Independence Day

Source: TeleSUR
September 7 2016

Unelected President Michel Temer was greeted with shouts of “Out with Temer” upon his first public appearance in Brazil since being installed in office.

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Demonstrators protest against President Michel Temer in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sept. 7, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Unelected government

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets Wednesday in over a dozen Brazilian cities for a national day of action dubbed the “Cry of the Excluded” to protest the country’s unelected government as President Michel Temer made his first public appearance one week after being installed in office.

OPINION: Democracy Is Dead in Brazil

Coinciding with Brazil’s independence and marked by shouts of slogans like “Out with Temer,” the marches protested the rollback in social programs and protection of human rights expected under the newly-inaugurated conservative government, which already began to implement an aggressive neoliberal agenda during its “interim” three months in office.

Living a coup

“This Sept. 7 is quite different because the people are living a coup,” Silvana Conti, a candidate with the Communist Party of Brazil in Porto Alegre, said in a statement, using the widely-repeated criticism of the impeachment process against ousted President Dilma Rousseff as a parliamentary coup. “It is important that the Brazilian people show that they are not accepting an illegitimate government and will not leave the streets until a return to democracy.”

Cries calling for his removal

When Temer made an appearance accompanied by his wife Marcela in Brasilia for the Independence Day parade, he was met with cries calling for his removal, local media reported. It was his first public appearance in Brazil since his speedy inauguration on Aug. 31 following the 61 to 20 vote in the Senate to impeach Rousseff, and the hostile greeting echoed the reception of boos he received during the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Rio last month.

OPINION:   MST: Social Movements Must Rise up Against Coup Govt in Brazil

Protesters flooded the streets 

Meanwhile, protesters also flooded the streets of Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife, Campo Grande, and several other locations. Solidarity protests were also held internationally, including in London.

“They did not calculate well the opposition there would be against the withdrawal of workers’ rights,” said Lindbergh Farias, senator with Rousseff’s Workers Party, during the demonstrations in Rio, Folha de Sao Paulo reported.

Labor unions and social movements have come together

In recent days, labor unions and social movements have come together to reject Temer’s plans for the country, which include lifting restrictions on foreign land ownership, cutting social programs, and privatizing the country’s natural resources, including rich offshore oil reserves. Temer has also moved toward cozier relations with the United States after years of independent foreign policy favoring South American regional integration under Rousseff and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

On Monday, Brazil’s largest social movement – the Landless Worker Movement, or MST – occupied government offices in Brasilia to demand attention to agricultural issues while an estimated 12,000 protesters took to the streets in various actions across the country to echo demands for agrarian reform and guaranteed access to farmland for landless rural people.

A gang of corrupt politicians condemned an innocent person

Social movements have vowed to continue to protest the so-called coup against Brazilian democracy while fighting to protect the social gains won over more than a decade of Workers’ Party governments.

“Michel Temer’s government claimed that once the impeachment was approved, the country would be at peace. What we witnessed was a strong reaction because society realized that a gang of corrupt (politicians) condemned an innocent person,” Raimundo Bonfim of the Central Popular Movements told Folha. “And since then there have been protests against the neoliberal agenda.”

In recent weeks, police have cracked down on anti-Temer protests.

Dilma responds to impeachment in letter

Source:  Granma
September 6 2016

by Dilma Rousseff | internet@granma.cu

“Today, the Federal Senate has made a decision which shall go down as one of history’s great injustices…61 senators replaced the choice of 54.5 million votes”

dilma responds.jpgToday, the Federal Senate has made a decision which shall go down as one of history’s great injustices. The senators who voted for the impeachment have chosen to tear the Brazilian Constitution apart. They have decided to interrupt the mandate of a president who did not commit a responsibility crime. They have condemned an innocent person and executed a parliamentary coup. (Photo: EFE)

Now that I have been removed from office, politicians who are desperately looking to escape justice will rise to power with those who have been defeated in the past elections. They are not coming to power on direct popular vote, as Lula and I did in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. They are taking it over on a coup d’etat.

This is the second coup that I have faced in my life. The first, a military coup, supported by the brutality of weapons, repression, and torture, struck me when I was young. The second, a parliamentary coup which was completed today by means of a judicial farce, removes me from an office publicly elected by the Brazilian people.

61 senators replaced the choice of 54.5 million votes

This was an undisputed indirect election, in which 61 senators replaced the choice of 54.5 million votes. It was a fraud, which we are going to appeal on every possible instance.

It is shocking that the greatest effort against corruption in Brazilian history, which has been made possible by actions and laws created after 2003 — further developed in my government — is helping a group of corrupt politicians to power.

The national, progressive, inclusive and democratic project which I represent is being interrupted by a powerful conservative, reactionary force, with the support of a partisan, venal press. They are going to seize the institutions of the State and have them serve the most radical economical liberalism and social regression.

This coup will affect every progressive, democratic political organization

They have just overthrown the first female president of Brazil, with no constitutional justification for this impeachment. But the coup was not only against me or my party. That was just the beginning. This coup will indistinctly affect every progressive, democratic political organization.

The coup is against social and union movements and against those who fight for their rights in every sense of the word: the right to work and to protect labor laws, the right to fair retirement, the right to housing and land, the right to education, to health, to culture, the rights of young people in making their own future, the rights of black people, of indigenous people, of LGBT people, of women, the right to express oneself with no repression.
The coup is against the people and against the nation. This coup is misogynistic. The coup is homophobic. The coup is racist. It is the imposition of a culture of intolerance, of prejudice, of violence.

I ask Brazilians to listen to me. I speak to more than 54 million Brazilians who voted for me in 2014. I speak to the 110 million Brazilians who approved direct election as the legitimate way to choose their presidents.

Stopped being invisible

I speak mainly to Brazilians who, during my government, overcame poverty, who made the dream of owning a home come true, who started getting medical care, who went to University and stopped being invisible to the eyes of the nation, earning their long denied rights.

The disbelief and the sadness we feel at times like these are very bad influences. Don’t give up the fight.

Listen closely: they believe they have defeated us, but they are wrong. I know all of us will fight. They will face the most solid, tireless, and energetic opposition that a coup government can have.

Biggest reduction of social inequalities

When President Lula was elected for the first time, in 2003, we came to power singing that no one should be afraid of being happy. For 13 years, we have successfully carried out a project that promoted the greatest levels of social inclusion and the biggest reduction of social inequalities in Brazilian history.

The story will not end like this. I am certain that the interruption of this story through a coup is not final. We are coming back. We are coming back to continue our journey towards this Brazil where the people come first.

I hope we can find ways to unite ourselves for causes which are common to every progressive person, regardless of party affiliation or political stance. I propose that, together, we fight against backwardness, against the conservative agenda, against the elimination of rights, for national sovereignty and for the full reestablishment of democracy.

Leaving with dignity

I leave the Presidency as I came: without having made any illicit act, without having betrayed any of my commitments, with dignity, and carrying in my heart the same love and admiration I always had for Brazilians, and the same urge to keep fighting for Brazil.

I lived my truth. I gave my best. I didn’t run away from my responsibilities. I was moved emotionally by human suffering. I was touched by the fight against poverty and hunger. And I fought against social inequalities.

I had some good fights. I lost some, I won many of them, and, right now, I’m inspired by Darcy Ribeiro to say that I don’t want to be in the place of those who believe themselves victorious. History will be merciless against them.

Gender equality

To the Brazilian women, who covered me with flowers and affection, I ask them to believe they can. Future generations of Brazilian women will know that the first time that a woman became president in our country, sexism and misogyny reared their ugly faces. We have built a one-way road towards gender equality. Nothing is going to take us back.

In this moment, I will not say goodbye to you. I am sure I can say “I’ll see you soon.”

I will close now, sharing these beautiful words of encouragement from Russian poet Mayakovsky:

“We are not happy, that’s true
But what is the reason for us to be sad?
The sea of history is turbulent
Threats and wars, we will cross them
Break them apart
We’ll cut through them like a keel”

A warm hug to the Brazilian people, who share with me the belief in democracy and the dream of justice.

Thursday, September 1, 2016.

(Taken from medium.com)

Unasur calls meeting of foreign ministers following coup in Brazil

Source:  Granma
September 2 2016

Author: Prensa Latina | internet@granma.cu

Rousseff’s removal from office has prompted varied reactions among governments of the region, several of which have described it as a “coup”.

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The Brazilian people remain mobilized in the streets against the coup. Photo: Brasil de Fato

QUITO.— The Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur), Ernesto Samper, will begin a round of consultations with member country foreign ministers, in order to arrange a meeting and address the issue of the removal from office of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

In a statement released yesterday the regional mechanism noted that the move in Brazil “raises concerns and has regional implications, consideration of which justifies an extraordinary meeting of foreign ministers,” as reported by PL.

A “coup”

Rousseff’s removal has prompted varied reactions among governments of the region, several of which have described the move as a “coup”.

The protests following the vote by the Brazilian Senate to impeach the president have multiplied across more than a dozen states; however incidents have only been recorded in São Paulo.

There, in the same place where just a few hours before a group opposed to Rousseff had celebrated her removal with honking, cake and champagne, supporters of the former president confronted the Military Police, who attempted to disperse two protests against the Temer government.

Solidarity with Dilma

The two demonstrations departed from the São Paulo Art Museum, in the financial heart of the country, toward the center of the city and, for the third straight night, police fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators.

In Brasilia, hundreds of supporters of the Workers’ Party mobilized, as they have done since Monday, in support of the former president.

A crowd gathered to hear Rousseff’s brief farewell speech following her ousting and sang the national anthem in front of the Palacio de la Alvorada, the presidential residence.

Protests against Michel Temer

Several hundred gathered that evening on the Explanada de los Ministerios, facing the Brazilian Congress, to express solidarity with Rousseff.

Protests against Michel Temer also multiplied across Río de Janeiro, where hundreds of people demonstrated in the center of the city, and other capitals of the interior, such as Porto Alegre, Salvador, and Vitoria.

Cuba Condemns ‘Coup D’Etat’ Against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil

Source:  TeleSUR
August 31 2016

Cuba’s government defended Brazil’s left and its social gains, its fight to end poverty and push for Latin American integration.

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Rousseff and Cuba’s President Raul Castro in Havana, in 2014 | Photo: Reuters

The Cuban government “strongly rejects the parliamentary and judicial coup d’état perpetrated against President Dilma Rousseff,” according to a statement published Wednesday by Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Relations.

RELATED: Dilma Rousseff Ousted, Temer Installed as Brazil’s President

The offensive of imperialist forces

“What happened in Brazil is another expression of the offensive of imperialist forces and the oligarchy against the revolutionary and progressive governments of Latin America and the Caribbean which threatens the peace and stability of nations,” the statement said.

Cuba’s government said the Senate’s vote against Rousseff “is an act of defiance against the sovereign will of the people who voted for her.”

The statement also praises the work of the previous left-of-center governments headed by Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff on education, health, social inclusion, creation of jobs and eradication of extreme poverty.

“Equally praiseworthy has been Brazil’s performance under the Workers’ Party governments in crucial international issues for the defense of peace, development, the environment and programs to combat hunger,” the statement said.

RELATED:  Latin America’s Left Reacts to Brazil Coup

Solidarity with Rousseff, Lula and the Workers’ Party

The government expressed its solidarity with Rousseff, Lula and the Workers’ Party, and said it is confident that the Brazilian people will defend the social achievements reached by their administrations.

The text also criticized the Senate-imposed government of Michel Temer, which took office on Wednesday afternoon, for promoting privatizations and cuts to social programs.

The Foreign Ministry denounced that most of the senators who impeached the president are being investigated on corruption charges, and had no evidence of corruption or crimes of responsibility against her.

The ministry praised Brazil’s work on Latin American and Caribbean integration, and its active participation in international organizations like the BRICS: Brazil, India, China and South Africa.