A recent attempt to forge greater unity among militant union sectors in Brazil has imploded. The Working Class Congress (Conclat) was held in Sao Paulo on June 5-6 to try and bring together various radical union currents. The key forces behind the congress were Conlutas and Intersindical, both formed in opposition to the main union confederation, the Unified Workers’ Confederation (CUT). The CUT unites approximately 60 million formal or informal workers out of a total population of 200 million, making it the biggest workers confederation in the continent.
A human banner made up of more than 1000 people, seen and photographed from the air, sent the message SOS Amazon to the world, in the first action taken by indigenous people hours before the opening in northern Brazil on January 27 of the 2009 World Social Forum (WSF).
Survival International reported on May 15 that Brazilian Indians were angered when Pope Benedict XVI, during his recent visit to Brazil, claimed that their ancestors had been silently longing to become Christians when Brazil was colonised five centuries ago. According to the BBC, the Pope also claimed that the imposition of Christianity on the region had not involved an alienation of the pre-Colombian cultures. Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, from the Amazonian Satere Mawe tribe, said the Popes comments were arrogant and disrespectful. The Catholic Churchs Indian advocacy group in Brazil called the Popes statement wrong and indefensible. Brazils indigenous population is today less than 7% of what it was in 1500, and of 1000 distinct tribes, only around 220 remain. For more information visit <international.org>.
Incumbent President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva came first in Brazils October 1 presidential elections, scoring 48.6% of the vote. His nearest rival, Geraldo Alkmin, the main right-wing candidate and a member of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB), scored 41.64%. Early polls suggested Lula could win an outright majority, however since no candidate won over 50% there will be a run-off election between Lula and Alkmin on October 29. Polls suggest that Lula is likely to win in the run-off.