Over a million people marched yesterday against education cuts and pension counter reform during Brazil’s national education strike. The national education strike, called by the National Confederation of Education Unions (CNTE) and National Union of Students (UNE) was in response to a 30% budget cut announced by Bolsonaro’s Education Minister. This colossal display against these cuts is a powerful message to Bolsonaro and his government, showing the strength of the working class and youth.
The militancy of this movement serves as inspiration for the working class and youth internationally. Here in Britain, we saw the effects of austerity last year when UUK attempted to cut lecturers’ pensions by 40%. A powerful strike followed, that brought over 60 universities to a standstill across the UK for just under a month.
Unfortunately, the UCU trade union leadership sold out to management, with a botched deal to end the strike. This ongoing struggle in Brazil is an example for all of us. There’s a powerful movement brewing that has far reaching potential beyond what we saw in the UK. In fact, a general strike has been called for June 14th.
This has the potential to be a powerful step forward for the working class. However, this must be built for properly. The millions who marched yesterday are angry and ready to act, but this must be channelled into concrete action that removes Bolsonaro from power. It cannot afford to be another stunt, which is unfortunately the attitude of some of the leading trade unions.
Liberdade e Luta has been promoting the slogan FORA BOLSONARO! (BOLSONARO OUT!).
The comrades were present in Sao paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Florianópolis, Curitiba, Campinas, Rio Claro and elsewhere.
Comrade speaking at rally in Sao Paulo
Even before today, the anger has been ripe. On 8th May there were massive demonstrations in the most-affected universities. 15,000 lecturers and students marched at the UFF in Rio de Janeiro.
The strike is a confirmation of the power the working class has in Brazil. It is the first major fightback against the attacks on the working class Bolsonaro is attempting. It also serves as an indictment of the failure of reformists to fight Bolsonaro. Leader of the PT (Workers’ party) Haddad, spoke out against the slogan ‘Bolsonaro Out’ warning that
“We have to be very careful, because the Constitution establishes that impeachment must have a crime of responsibility. It cannot be a slogan. Crime of responsibility is one thing and we must be strictly faithful to the Constitution”
It is precisely this incessant attachment to ‘respectable’ politics, establishment, and constitution that led to Bolsonaro’s victory over PT in the elections in October. Bolsonaro, despite representing the same ilk as the rest of the establishment, cultivated an anti-establishment image. To defeat this, PT attempted to win by being the party of establishment and democracy! This statement shows they have learnt nothing.
Speaking on the protests, Bolsonaro has said:
“They are useful idiots, imbeciles, who are being used as the maneuvering mass of a smart little minority that makes up the nucleus of many federal universities in Brazil.”
Bolsonaro’s attempts to brush this off will only embolden the movement further. With the necessary leadership and direction, this can happen. This is why the comrades are demanding:
Build the General Strike!
Fight the cuts to education!