Brazil: Millions strike against Bolsonaro’s pension reforms

Women protest against Jair Bolsonaro.

The streets answered with a resounding “no” to Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s pension reform proposition, to his intentions of restraining rights, and to the continuity of attacks against the people since former president Michel Temer’s coup d’etat in 2016.

The protests, part of a general strike called by national union organisations, mobilised millions of people in 360 cities from north to south, across 26 states and the Federal district.

The general strike on June 14 developed out of the unified struggle of national unions, popular movements and progressive sectors fighting for public education and against the pension reform. Huge demonstrations on May 1 [Labour Day], May 15 and May 30 were also built on the unity of democratic forces.

Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), Brazil’s largest workers organisation, estimated that 45 million workers participated in or were affected by the protests and stoppages.

Out of 27 capitals, 19 had their public transport systems affected. In the remaining eight capitals there were many street and road blockades, as well as partial stoppages on the subways.

Stoppages happened in ports, refineries, the steel industry, banks, post offices and universities, according to organisers.

“To destroy our pensions system in favor of capitalisation, to sell us to the banks is what this administration wants. The unions will not discuss attacks on our rights. We want a social security system that is comprehensive, public and universal,” CUT president Vagner Freitas said.

Demonstrations were heavily repressed by the police in some cities.

In São Paulo, a protest led by students, teachers and faculty staff was dispersed by rubber bullets and [smoke] bombs launched by the police. Some people were hit by shrapnel and taken to the University Hospital. Fifteen protesters were arbitrarily arrested. That night police attacked protesters with gas and [smoke] bombs. The same happened at Rio de Janeiro’s demonstration.

In Araucária, Paraná, the municipal guard attacked a workers’ demonstration with rubber bullets. Three people were injured. One farmer, from the Landless Workers Movement was hit in the face by a projectile and in the state of Paraíba, a police officer was filmed hitting a student in the face.

[Abridged from Brasilwire.]