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The ‘Terminators’: Attacks on Pensions, Delivery and Liquidation of Public Education

The political semester ended with a major victory of the bourgeoisie in approving the first-round pension reform under the direction of Rodrigo Maia and the enthusiastic support of the mainstream media. After four nights of deliberation, the basic text was adopted in the first round by 379 votes to 131 in the House of Representatives. The expressive numbers of support exceeded previous expectations, augmented by the true billionaire fair of parliamentary amendments offered by the government and defections in opposition parties such as the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and the Democratic Labor Party (PDT).

Although there is still one more shift in the House and Senate voting, Bolsonaro intends to mobilize the third of the population that still supports him to impose his agenda after setting the social security scenario. The latest news was the suggestion that he should appoint his son Eduardo Bolsonaro to the embassy in the United States in further signaling of his total subservience to the Trump government and the profound influence of his upstart and demented children on national affairs.

The defeat in the House was marked by the absence of reaction in the days of the vote. Our PSOL parliamentarians fought bravely, but not even a standstill or march was called by the trade union centrals. The holding of the UNE Congress and its march in Brasilia was a positive milestone, but insufficient to compensate for the weakness of the mass movement, especially of the unions, in facing reform. Now the government is continuing its offensive against public assets.

This week, Abraham Weintraub announced the Ministry of Education’s proposal, under the hypocritical name of “Future Up,” for the disruption of federal universities and their submission to the interests of private financiers. The aforementioned UNE’s Congress, however, was a show of strength from the organized student movement, which has its head held high after the May 15-30 demonstrations and today is the forefront of resistance to the government and its attacks. Our bet must be linked to its development.

Social Security Reform’s voting and weak mobilization

The defeat of the House’s vote has several causes. On the one hand, it is linked to the weakness of the mobilization of unions and centrals, weakened by years of paralysis of the top leaderships, of the attachment to the interests of governments and of a structural weakness of the working class – pressured by high levels of unemployment – and the most solid bases of the power stations, at risk with the deindustrialization of the Brazilian economy.

Temer’s labor reform, in turn, removed sources of funding from unions that, after decades of bureaucratization based on union tax resources, could not in this short period find ways of militant financing to compensate for losses. As a result, mobilization against pension reform was also hampered by the material difficulties of the entities.

It is necessary to point out the role of the so-called opposition governors, who negotiated with the government summit and with Rodrigo Maia the approval of the reform in exchange for fiscal compensation measures, influencing regional benches to vote in favor of the base text. In addition, in parties such as the PDT and the PSB, which officially steered the vote against reform, almost a third of the seats voted for pension reform.

Fundamentally, the struggle against reform failed to gain a social majority. Faced with the unity of the bourgeoisie and the systematic campaign of its spokesmen in the mainstream media, a strong and massive campaign would be needed to win. Learning the lessons of this defeat will be critical to the upcoming battles to come.

Government promises to deepen regression and social war

Bolsonaro and his ministers, in recent days, have made statements pointing to the upcoming attacks against the Brazilian people. Faced with the economic and social crisis, the president says that there is no hunger in Brazil and that the economy “is a marvel”. At the same time, it reaffirms its willingness to continue dismantling labor rights, such as the FGTS (service time guarantee fund) and the 40% fine of the fund’s accumulated balance in the event of unjustified dismissal.

The systematic attack on public education follows. With the Future Up project, the team of neoliberal economists who stormed the Ministry of Education, under Weintraub’s command, announced a willingness to dispose of university assets in real estate funds, to subject the management of institutions to social organizations and to harness research funding to sponsoring companies. It is a privatist offensive against national public universities, science and technology on the pretext of raising funds against the bankruptcy framework of the federal university system compounded by the cuts promoted by the Bolsonaro’s government.

Also follow the announcements of privatization of public assets. The main theme is the Petrobras’ refineries and the assignment of new pre-salt areas to transnational oil companies, as well as Eletrobrás’s IPO. Attacks on freedoms and increased repression and control are also on the ruling bastard’s radar. Bolsonaro now sets the tone against Brazilian audiovisual production with outrageous threats to close the Cinema Promotion Agency if the government fails to censor “activist” films that violate religious values.

Four immediate tasks for the next period

Faced with such a scenario, it is necessary to break the lethargy, betting with everything on the energy of youth and education. Immediately, we need to strengthen the call for mobilization in defense of education and universities on August 13. This will be a litmus test and we will put our strengths in its development.

In addition, secondly, the battle to defend pensions – as the reform vote is not yet over – must be pursued – labor rights at risk and against the surrender of public assets.

Faced with the need to raise an alternative for the Brazilian working people, it is also essential to intensify the construction of the PSOL in the popular strata, rooting the party and showing its leading edge of resistance, as it became clear once again in facing the reform of social security.

Lastly, we need to come up with an alternative plan with a program for those above to pay the crisis bill. The growing rejection of the government and the agenda of permanent attacks, sooner or later, will lead to a blunt response from the Brazilian people. We must organize this resistance and offer a way against the barbarism of Bolsonaro, Guedes and the capitalists who celebrate the dismantling of people’s rights. The last word has not yet been given.



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  • Pedro Fuentes
  • Bernardo Corrêa
  • Charles Rosa
  • Clara Baeder