NATIONAL UNION OF METALWORKERS OF SOUTH AFRICA
153 Lillian Ngoyi Street (Cnr. Becker) P. O. Box 260483
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Johannesburg Tel: (011) 689 – 1700
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Office of the General Secretary
29th August 2016
TO : His Excellency
The Ambassador of Brazil
FROM : Irvin Jim: Numsa General Secretary
MEMORANDUM TO THE BRAZILIAN AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH AFRICA, 29TH AUGUST 2016
Numsa and other concerned comrades are gathered here today at the Brazilian embassy in solidarity with millions of Brazilians and to condemn the attempted impeachment of Comrade Dilma Rousseff, the democratically elected President, who has been suspended from office and is standing trial, accused of manipulating the government budget. The senate began the trial against her on Thursday 25 August and will most likely attempt to remove her from office this week.
This impeachment is nothing more than a coup d’état, orchestrated by the rich and powerful capitalist elite, by manipulating legal processes, to get rid of a popular leader of the Workers Party and former resistance fighter against the 1964 dictatorship, under which she was detained and imprisoned without trial and tortured severely.
But it is also an attack on the workers and the poor majority – the 54.5 million Brazilians who voted for Dilma in the 2014 general elections, where she won 51.64% of the votes, to defeat a centre-right coalition of parties. She thus had a mandate to carry on the legacy of the centre-left Workers Party which has been governing Brazil since 2002.
We are protesting at the right-wing party leaders seizing power that they did not win through votes. If they succeed it will undemocratically install an illegitimate, minority government of right-wing parties, led by Acting President Temer, and backed by business, the capitalist media and the judiciary.
They are attempting to get rid of Dilma so that they can quickly implement measures in the interest of the capitalists, and take measures against the workers and their social rights.
Their supporters in the streets say they are fighting corruption, which is indeed pervasive throughout Brazilian society and all of its political parties, including some leaders of the Workers’ Party. But many more of those implicated are from the opposition parties on the centre and the right that are now trying to replace it, including virtually every political opponent of President Rousseff.
The factions that would be empowered by Dilma’s impeachment are at least as implicated by corruption scandals in most cases, more so. Five of the members of the impeachment commission are themselves being criminally investigated as part of the corruption scandal. Of the 65 members of the House impeachment committee, 36 currently face pending legal proceedings.
In the lower house of Congress, the leader of the impeachment movement, Eduardo Cunha, was found to have maintained multiple secret Swiss bank accounts, where he stored millions of dollars that prosecutors believe were received as bribes.
Yet President Rousseff herself is one of the few significant politicians not to be implicated in any sort of corruption. So far nothing has been proven against her, or against the former Workers party President Lula, who led successive governments which ushered in economic and social reforms, which have lifted millions of Brazilians out of poverty.
But despite this record of achievement, the media and social networking feed and give enough publicity to the rumours and lies about Dilma and Lula, to convince the workers that the allegations against them are true.
South Africans are particularly concerned because the underlying reasons for the current Brazilian crisis are not exclusive to Brazil, but a result of the global economic crisis started in 2008, which saw, countries going bankrupt and the world economy heading into a recession.
In response capitalists throughout the world are implementing their way out of the crisis reducing wages and workers’ rights and cutting social spending to ensure their rate of profit. This is the project that they are trying to deploy throughout Latin America and here in South Africa, through neo-liberal programmes.
It is an attempt to put all the sacrifices and losses on the backs of workers so that capitalism can function again but this in turn only worsens the social crisis as unemployment, poverty and inequality all rise.
In Brazil, this economic crisis is aggravated the by the political crisis. The Rousseff government was elected to advance social rights but could not fulfil the platform on which it was elected.
On the other hand, a Congress that was not elected by the people but by large capitalist corporations, through millions in campaign donations, ended up deciding who will be the representatives and senators and deciding how they will vote. They are enforcing this ruling class agenda to restore the rate of profit and consolidate the process of monopolisation by banks and multinational corporations.
They are switching resources previously allocated to education, health and social security, to initiatives that are of interest only to the capitalists. They want to increase the minimum age of retirement to 65 years and up to 70 years.
They are resuming the privatization process, dismantling public services, closing down the Ministry of Agrarian Development and putting an end to policies for family agriculture and agrarian reform. They want to hand over important mineral resources such as oil from the pre-salt layer to foreign companies, as well as hydroelectric power plants and public banks.
Since it did not win at the ballot box, the right want to win by changing the rules of the game, without consulting the people. For this, their first goal is to take out President Dilma. For all the mistakes that her government has committed, it was democratically elected and has not been charged with any crime. Therefore, there is no basis for impeachment of the President and ending democracy.
But even if they succeed in removing the President, the crisis is long-term and so besides impeachment, the right is working to remove any candidate who can defeat them in again in 2018 and so it is important for them to tackle the Workers Party as a whole and its main leader, former President Lula.
It is a process that does not respect the Constitution, or laws and institutions, which is why it is in reality a coup. Just like the leaders of the military coup in 1964, its leaders are flouting the law and the people and imposing their own will.
The 1964 coup, and the dictatorship that followed, were also supported by Brazil’s big capitalists and their large media outlets, led by Globo TV, which like today’s impeachers depicted it as a noble defeat of a corrupt left-wing government. That dictatorship was also supported by the rich (and overwhelmingly white) upper class and its small middle class.
Brazil’s wealthy factions regarded dictatorship as protection against the largely black impoverished masses. As The [UK] Guardian put it: “As was the case elsewhere in Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, the elite and middle class aligned themselves with the military to stave off what they saw as a communist threat.”
The aim of today’s ‘coup’ leaders is also to subvert Brazil’s democratic outcomes by deceitfully marching under an anti-corruption banner, just as in1964. Much of the Brazilian right longs for restoration of the military dictatorship, and factions at these ‘anti-corruption’ protests have been openly calling for the end of democracy. And to create this climate, they also encourage their followers to organize demonstrations and attack activists, party headquarters, trade unions and social movements.
We declare our full solidarity with the Brazilian workers and socialists who are fighting back against the coup and for a program of emergency measures to pull the country out of the crisis, that invests in housing construction in urban centres, improves health care, creates more jobs with much-needed works projects, which carries out agrarian reform and improves the situation of food production in the countryside.
We demand that the Brazilian government immediately halt its impeachment process against President Rousseff, restore to her position and call on the Workers’ Party to mobilise mass action to lead the working class on a socialist programme to take control of the commanding heights of the economy to guarantee workers’ rights, create jobs and end poverty and inequality.
Numsa General Secretary
for the Brazilian Embassy
Memorandum to the Brazilian Ambassador to South Africa, 29th August 2016
NATIONAL UNION OF METALWORKERS OF SOUTH AFRICA