Brazil: a tragic example of our fractured world

While Michel Temer, leader of an illegitimate government, addresses political, business and civil society leaders in Davos, Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is on trial for corruption, despite there being no evidence of such.

Temer leads a government that assumed power with a political coup, a coup fabricated against Lula’s successor Dilma Rousseff who was never accused of corruption. Rather, some 200 existing parliamentarians, including Temer, who have been charged with corruption themselves, have secured immunity while they remain in government.

The Lula and Dilma presidencies saw a reduction in inequality with new social protection measures and a minimum wage. Employment increased on their watch and they strengthened the rights of workers. Investment streamed into the country and the levels of economic growth attained during their combined 13 years in power saw Brazil rated as one of the emerging economy saviours during the global financial crisis.

Temer leads a government that has shown its true colours. The first thing it did ontaking power was attack the labour laws, and the rights and protections of working people.

Temer’s government has also weakened health and safety measures and dismantled collective bargaining, with an all-out attack on pensions and social security. Add to that a decrease in the minimum wage and you can see why inequality and unemployment are on the rise in Temer’s Brazil.

Some members of Congress think this is still not enough and wish to apply measures for agricultural workers which will enable employers, in some circumstances, to pay their workers in mere food and accommodation. This is slavery, pure and simple.

Temer also wants to allow mining in the Amazon. The world must be truly shocked to see corporate greed attempting to win over the sanctity of the indigenous lands and the vital need to protect the lungs of the world. Indeed, we should be paying indigenous people to care forcarbon sinks. And the Amazon is the most precious of them all.

However, Brazil’s people are not fooled. They didn’t need renowned international lawyers such as Geoffrey Robertson, who examined every bit of so-called ‘evidence’ against Lula and found no measure of personal corruption. Rather they turn out in massive crowds to rally for Lula and he is already ahead in the polls for the next presidential election.

The Brazilian people have seen what is possible in their country. Under Lula, the taste of shared prosperity gave everyone hope.

Yet since Temer’s business cronies took the reins, 22 million people are now living below the poverty line and one in five families has no income. This is unbelievable in a country as rich as Brazil.

The elite and the corrupt of this nation cannot be respected if we are serious about healing our fractured world, and if we are serious about peace, democracy and human rights. The international labour movement stands with Lula in the fight for the Brazilian people and their democracy.

There can be no doubt that the charges against Lula are politically motivated and the ITUC invites you to join us in standing with Lula!