Declaration of the O Trabalho Current to the Nat'l Direct. of the Workers Party of Brazil (PT)

David Walters dwalters at
Mon Jul 21 22:35:28 MDT 2003

Declaration of the O Trabalho Current to the National Directorate of the
Workers Party of Brazil (PT)

The National Directorate of the PT, the highest leadership body of our
party, is meeting at a particularly important moment in the life of our

Six months ago, Lula took over the reins of government, having been elected
by 53 million Brazilians who voted for him so that their immediate needs and
demands could be attended to: land; jobs; vital public services, including
the defense and extension of the pension system (Previdencia) to all
workers; and the establishment of Brazil's sovereignty.

All of us understood that the country and the newly elected government would
face a difficult situation. But today Brazil is headed for a major crisis,
with the concentration of multiple explosive factors:

- On the one hand, there is ever-growing pressure from President Bush and
U.S. imperialism to impose the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) as
soon as possible, so that the funds of the Public Pension System
(Previdencia) can be turned over to the financial speculators. There are
increased attacks by the large landowners, using private militias
(jagunços), to dislodge and even assassinate the landless peasants. There is
a concerted effort by the wealthy and mafiosi elite to sabotage the national
economy with the goal of undermining the vote that was expressed last
October 27th by the great majority of the Brazilian people.

- On the other hand, we can see that the workers, as well as diverse sectors
of the population and the youth, are beginning to mobilize against these
attacks. This fightback was expressed in the June 11th March in Brasilia in
defense of the Public Pension System, the increased numbers of land
occupations in various states, the marches and rallies of the students in
Rio against the increase in bus fares for youth -- and now, most recently,
in the national strike of public-sector workers, who were forced out on
strike as they can no longer tolerate the rollback of their rights and
gains. Moreover, from all corners of the country, there has been a
proliferation of manifestos -- written by economists and intellectuals, many
of them founders of the PT -- as well as resolutions and motions from
official PT bodies sent to the National Directorate, expressing deep concern
over the course taken by the PT, thus revealing an intense debate under way
inside the party. 

At the root of this situation is the crisis of the so-called "free market"
-- that is, the system based on the private ownership of the large means of
production, which is leading humanity to the precipice. This is the system
that was responsible, for example, for the war in Iraq that has plunged that
country into total chaos.

This is the system, as well, that is putting pressures on the government of
our country -- through the mechanism of the repayment of the immense and
unpayable foreign debt and the accompanying "agreements" with the IMF and
"structural adjustment recommendations" of the World Bank -- thereby
creating the difficult situation that everyone now acknowledges.

This is the system in which multinational corporations fire workers at will,
or eliminate jobs through buyout plans (PDV), and announce new "collective
holidays" as they lay off more people -- while other multinationals quite
calmly default on their payments to the National Development Bank (BNDES) in
order to bankrupt it, and the so-called "regulatory agencies" eliminate all
controls and tariffs ... all of this aimed at sabotaging the national

But it was precisely to break out of this infernal situation that 53 million
people voted for Lula and the PT last October 27th!

Today, we can say with certainty that only two options are available:

- Either the government submits to the pressures by Bush and turns the
country over to the FTAA, destroying millions of jobs, liquidating rights
and gains in the name of "free trade; either it submits even more to the
pressures of the large landowners and allows the militias (jagunços) free
rein to evict and kill the landless peasants, including allowing Minister of
Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues to defend openly the violence perpetrated by
the landowners; either it submits to the pressures of the "market" -- that
is, the speculators and mafiosi who want to put their hands on the pension
funds of the public-sector workers as they demand adoption of PEC 40; in a
word, either the government goes down the path of the stepped-up dismantling
of the Brazilian nation,

- Or, on the other hand, the government rescues national sovereignty;
defends and extends our rights and gains; saves the threatened jobs; keeps
open the factories facing bankruptcy (including, if necessary, nationalizing
them to guarantee workers' jobs, as is being demanded by the workers of
Cipla/Interfibra in Joinville (Santa Catarina); withdraws from the fake FTAA
negotiations; revokes MP 2.183 (a law enacted under former President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso to criminalize land occupations and ban
distribution of lands taken over by the landless peasants); begins immediate
implementation of an agrarian reform program, legitimizing the lands
occupied by the landless peasants and providing technical assistance, credit
and commercialization to the new farm units; and withdraws its proposed PEC
40 "reform" of the public-sector pension system, creating the space for a
solution that guarantees the rights of all public workers and increases
retirement protection for all workers.

Where is the money to do all this?

To address the most urgents demands of Brazil's working and poor people, a
government of the PT should not hesitate to go after the money where it can
be obtained: 

- The money that is lacking to pay for agrarian reform, education,
healthcare and infrastructure has been drained from the public coffers to
pay back the foreign debt. Sixty-four percent of the public budget is
earmarked for the payment of the foreign debt, with a rollover loan from the
IMF still "contingent" on meeting IMF budgetary surplus goals. These goals
are expected to increase even further next year.

- The money needed to cover the pension payments to the public workers can
be found in the US$192 billion that are owed to the National Social Security
Institute by millionaires and corporations without scruples, all of whose
names are well known as the list was disclosed publicly by the Minister of
Previdencia himself.

- The money to restore all public services can be found in the US$107
billion that fled Brazil during the past 10 years through the CC-5 accounts
of the Central Bank, $30 billion of which left the country illegally and
have already been located by the Federal Police and are currently being
investigated by the Banestado, where there is already a $30 billion fine
pending for illegal profiteering.

If all this money were repatriated, the government would be able to provide
solutions to all the urgent demands of the Brazilian people.

The government, in fact, must place strict controls over the entry and exit
of financial transactions and capital. No more loopholes for the speculators
and racketeers! End the financial sweetheart deals demanded by the
speculators and the IMF!

It is clear and undeniable: To be able to chart a course that is favorable
to the Brazilian people in this current situation, the government must adopt
such measures -- which are simple, easily understandable and, in many cases,
have already been implemented in other situations by various governments.

True, there is pressure, and there are mounting acts of sabotage. But if the
government were to move forward with such a plan of action -- a plan that
corresponds to the will expressed by the majority of Brazilians on October
27th -- it will be certain to receive the determined support of the millions
who brought Lula and the PT victory last October 27th.

The Workers Party (PT) must continue and move forward.

Today, there are some in the party who want to expel those who, as members
of Congress, have said no publicly to the proposed reform of the
pension-reform system (Previdencia). We must ask ourselves:

- Wasn't it the parliamentary fraction of the PT which over the years
prevented previous governments from taxing and securing payments from
inactive workers? 

- Wasn't it the parliamentary fraction of the PT which, over the past three
years, prevented the Cardoso government from adopting Public Law No. 9
(which has now been incorporated into the proposed PEC 40)?

- And wasn't it Lula himself who, when running for president signed the "13
Commitments to the Public-Sector Workers" -- a text that guaranteees and
pledges to advance the social and labor rights of these workers, returning,
moreover, parity between active and retired workers?

No one can trace the PT government's current attacks on workers' rights
contained in PEC 40 back to the PT's past record in parliament or to its
electoral pledges to the workers. This is an incontravertible fact. So how
then can some comrades in the PT leadership now propose to expel from our
party people who are simply defending the same positions the PT has
championed and fought for in the past? Such disciplinary measures are
totally unacceptable.

The PT must continue to be the party it has always been -- a party where
internal democracy is respected, a party that plays its role in championing
the interests of working people and the oppressed.

Today, the PT must support the legitimate strike which the public-sector
workers were forced to carry out. The PT must ask the government to withdraw
PEC 40 -- as the public-sector workers have requested, so that true
negotiations can take place. The PT must support the landless peasants and
demand that the government adopt measures of agrarian reform, beginning with
the repeal of MP 2.183.

If the PT continues to be the party it has always been, the PT will help the
Brazilian people find the positive and urgent solutions that the current
situation requires.

-- Sao Paulo, July 8, 2003 

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