Brazil: Lorry drivers halt the country

Striking lorry drivers protest against rising fuel costs in Duque de Caxias, Brazil

On 21 May, one million lorry drivers stopped work in Brazil and brought the country to practically a stand still within four days. Blockading highways in 24 states as part of their protest against a continuous rise in diesel and petrol prices, drivers stood firm for four days. The drivers are split between those who work as employees for haulage firms – some 300,000 who had effectively been locked out as their employers sought cuts in the cost of fuel – and the 700,000 self-employed drivers organised in the Brazilian Association of Truckers (Abcam). By the fourth day of the stoppage, the government had capitulated in a deal which the government can ill afford, given the economic crisis gripping Brazil expressed in a steady fall in the exchange rate of the Brazilian real. While the employers’ associations almost immediately agreed the terms on offer from Prime Minister Temer’s coup government, Abcam to date has not. Temer is expected to offer further concessions at a meeting on 27 May.

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Brazil: Marielle Franco assassinated

On 14 March, Marielle Franco, an outspoken representative of the Brazilian poor, was murdered with her driver in Rio de Janeiro after she had spoken at an event to empower black women. A city council member elected in 2016, she campaigned against police brutality. She became an expert on police violence at a time when one presidential candidate, Jair Bolsonaro – now second in the polls for October’s election – declared that ‘a policeman who doesn’t kill isn’t a policeman’. Tens of thousands of people in Rio de Janeiro and other cities across Brazil demonstrated in the days following her murder, demanding answers to the killing.

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Brazil: Lula’s appeal rejected, electoral tensions rise

lula
Former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, also known simply as Lula

On Wednesday 24 January a Federal appeals court upheld the conviction of former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on corruption charges – on the word of a construction company executive engaged in plea bargaining over his own corrupt practices. That this trial is the result of machinations by corrupt establishment politicians is undoubtable, and started when they manoeuvred to expel Dilma Rousseff as president in 2016.

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Brazil: ‘Pet food’ for the poor

petfood

In Sao Paulo prosecutors have opened an enquiry into plans to feed school children and poor people with a flour – farinata – made of freeze-dried leftover food, often processed near its sell-by-date, dubbed ‘human pet food’. It also comes in pellet form.

The conservative mayor Joao Doria, of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), and Catholic cardinal Dom Odilo Schere, said the scheme would alleviate hunger at no cost to the city when they defended the plans on 18 October. It has not met safety or nutritional standards.

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Brazil: corrupt president forces the pace of exploitation

temer brazil

On 14 September Brazil’s prosecutor general’s office laid new charges of bribery against President Michel Temer and six other leading politicians from his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, involving $188m. Three are already in jail. Temer and two other men are further accused of obstructing justice. The day before, the prosecutor general Rodrigo Janot survived a challenge in the Supreme Court to remove him from leading the Temer investigations. Temer is now accused of having acted as the leader of a criminal organisationsince May 2016. Denying all charges, Temer publically insulted Janot as a personal failure, and has shamelessly ploughed on with his scheme to plunder the country.

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