Brazil: Bolsonaro Is Pushing Teachers Towards a National Strike

Brazilian teachers propose a joint action of all public servants to protest against low wages and bad working conditions.

Brazil’s National Union of Teachers of Higher Education Institutions (Andes-SN) began consultations with their grassroots organizations to call a national strike in rejection of the far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and his attacks on the Brazilian education system.

RELATED: Brazil: 20,000 Oil Workers on Strike to Halt Privatization Plan

“We've been trying to negotiate insistently with the government and it has simply ignored us. The strike is a necessity,” the Andes-SN president Antonio Goncalves Filho said and added that the Bolsonaro administration has deteriorated the teacher's working conditions and salaries.

The University of Ceara professor Irenisia Oliveira stressed that the interruption of activities involves more work for both students and professors because classes must be replenished in the future more quickly. However, Bolsonaro's attitude favors the outbreak of a national strike.

"There is an offensive against public servants. The government has a hostile attitude against public universities," she said and added that "people realize they have no choice but to fight very hard."

Regarding this aggressiveness against public workers, the University of Brasilia professor Luis Araujo Pasquetti recalled that the Economy Minister Paulo Guedes said that public servants are “parasites.”

Statements like this show contempt for workers, which must be faced through a coordinated struggle capable of articulating several sectors simultaneously.​

"The strike must be built and be broader to encompass public service workers in general... We must analyze the best time to start a strike with educators and public servants," Araujo Pasquetti said.

Besides being harmed by a government that keeps their salaries low, Brazilian teachers are being affected by budget cuts that deteriorate educational infrastructure and materials.

Teachers are concerned about the eventual approval of a constitutional amendment through which Bolsonaro could impose a cut of up to 25 percent on public servant's hours and salaries.

Following its vocation to favor employers, the Brazilian government also seeks that teachers contribute more to the pension system.

“In the case of some categories of teachers, the contribution may involve up to a 22 percent discount. This discount and the income tax would reach an amount that would almost imply an expropriation of wages,” Gonçalves Filho explained.​​​​​​​

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Brazil: Bolsonaro Leads 2019 Record for Attacks on the Press

The far-right former Capitan accounted for three out of five press attacks in 2019.

Brazil’s National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) Thursday presented its "Report on Violence Against Journalists and Press Freedom", highlighting that 208 attacks on media outlets and journalists were reported in 2019, which means an increase of 54 percent over the previous year

RELATED: ​​​​​​Brazil to Go Through With Mining on Tribal Lands

"The main threat to press freedom in Brazil was carried out through 114 cases of 'attempts to discredit' the press," the Fenaj said.

The 2019 report includes this new type of violence because "the Presidency has institutionalized unfounded and widespread criticism to the media and journalists."

The Brazilian federation also reported that the number of cases of physical aggression has decreased; however, 20 journalists were killed in 2019.

The far-right President Jair Bolsonaro was the author of 121 attacks in 2019, equivalent to 58 percent of the total number of reported cases in the year.

The latest example of the Brazilian presidency's style occurred on Friday when citizens criticized the Culture Minister Roberto Alvim, who had previously published a video with clear Nazi connotations.

Bolsonaro immediately posted his own video to defend his pupil through a threatening message.

“To that press looking at me: I am above your glasses. Begin to produce truths... I will not take any action to try to censor you but have shame on your faces. Leave our government alone,” Bolsonaro shouted, as reported by local outlet Forum, which commented that his video used Joseph Goebbels' tactics to intimidate.​​​​​​​

"Bolsonaro's rise significantly affected press freedom," Brasil de Fato recalled.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 
 

 

According to Fenaj, politicians were the main perpetrators of attacks. About 69 percent of the attacks were related to attempts to discredit the press.

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A 1st Year to Forget: 80% Distrust Brazil's Bolsonaro

A similar survey conducted by the National Confederation of Industry CNI revealed that 56 percent of Brazilians disapprove of Bolsonaro's administration.

Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro began his term in January 2019 with a 49 percent popularity rating, however, after a year of poor economic performance, violence and unpopular neoliberal reforms the president's support has dropped almost 20 points, according to a survey conducted by the Datafolha consulting firm Wednesday.

RELATED: Brazil: 2019 Marks Highest Possession of Firearms Since 1997

According to the poll, 80 percent of Brazilians distrust Bolsonaro's statements and 43 percent would never believe him. While more than 36 percent of the population openly disapproves of his policies.

Since the re-democratization in 1985, only Fernando Collor has been less popular than Bolsonaro in his first year in government. Likewise, 53 percent assured Datafolha that Bolsonaro does not behave according to the promises made during his inauguration.

"Jair Bolsonaro's first year showed that both the President and part of his team used lies and fallacies as everyday instruments of government," a columnist for UOL News Leonardo Sakamoto wrote.

A similar survey conducted by the National Confederation of Industry CNI revealed that 56 percent of Brazilians disapprove of Bolsonaro's administration.

As his first year leading Brazil comes to an end, his popularity has dwindled due to his recurrent violent comments and approach to diplomacy.

The far-right leader has been known to make controversial statements about homosexuality, women, and the environment, in addition to defending Brazil's past dictatorship and maintaining a strong antagonism with the press.

RELATED: Brazil Poll Shows Growing Rejection of Bolsonaro

A third of the government's cabinet ministers are military, a key pillar in Bolsonaro's project as he strongly believes that "democracy only exists when the Armed Forces want it."

His military speech went over the edge when he ordered the "commemoration" of the 55th anniversary of the 1964 coup that overthrew President Joao Goulart and plunged the country into one of the darkest periods of its history.

The economy, meanwhile, is no different from the other poorly conducted areas, Brazil must create two million jobs to return to the 2014 level.

"There is no process occurring that could indicate that Brazil will return to economic growth or at least stability," Adhemar Mineiro, an economist with the Inter-Union Department of Statistics and Socio-Economic Studies, told the France 24.

In other underperforming issues, the government's worst evaluated areas are the fight against poverty, with only 14 percent of Brazilians approving Bolsonaro, and health care, with only 15 percent rating it positively.

Datafolha interviewed 2,948 people in 176 different municipalities between Thursday and Friday and produced a survey which, they said, has a margin of error of two percentage points.

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UN Accuses Brazil's Bolsonaro of Violating Anti-Torture Pact

"In Brazil, there is a large number of people deprived of their liberty in overcrowded prisons where violent deaths and riots occur," the U.N. warned.

The United Nations in Geneva accused Monday the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for failing to comply with the international pact against torture.

RELATED: Brazil's Amazon Deforestation Rises Over 100% Year-Over-Year

A report written by the U.N. Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture denounced the dismantling of the National Mechanism for Combating and Preventing Torture created six years ago by former President Dilma Rousseff to inspect, interview and request documentation in prisons, psychiatric hospitals, and addiction care institutes.

By eliminating the Mechanism to Combat Torture, Bolsonaro has given sort of a “license to hurt” to the agents of a penitentiary system that houses more than 700,000 inmates.

Brazil has the obligation to consider the recommendations of the U.N. after signing the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2007, during the government of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

According to the report, in Brazil, there is "a large number of people deprived of their liberty in precarious conditions in overcrowded prisons where violent deaths and riots occur."

@omctorg #Brazil : a government that incites violence and glorifies #torture shouldn’t sit on the #HumanRightsCouncil. Together with over 150 NGOs we explain why http://bit.ly/2IxERuc
 

Likewise, the document specifies that a "significant number of denunciations of torture and ill-treatment" in prisons have been noted, so it recommends to the Brazilian authorities that instead of "weakening" the Mechanism for Combating Torture this should be "strengthened."

The U.N. investigation began in June with a complaint filed by the NGOs Justicia Global and Tierra de Derechos, after which representatives of the Brazilian government were summoned to Geneva.

Previous reports had warned about the corruption and violence prevailing in several prisons in the Amazon region before a wave of riots began in 2017 that ended up leaving nearly 200 dead, with about 50 beheaded.​​​​​​

The Mechanism was practically gone when its experts stopped receiving salaries after the approval of presidential decree 9.831 published last June 10.​​​​​​​

 

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Bolsonaro says torture methods of dictatorship can be used to fight corruption

Brasilia, December 13 (RHC)-- The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, says that he will not tolerate cases of corruption in his government and to deal with this, he said -- in an apparent metaphorical sense -- that he would use an instrument of torture of the military dictatorship with ministers who commit this type of crime.

In an official act in Palma, capital of the state of Tocantins (north), the far-right president cited the term "pau de arara," a torture technique that involves putting a person hanging on a stick, tied hand and foot,  with the intention of showing determination in the fight against corruption.

"Could there be corruption in my Government?  Yes, there might be. There may be and the government does not know," Bolsonaro said during his speech.   "If it appears (corruption), I will place the minister in the 'pau de arara.'  If he has a responsibility, obviously, because sometimes, at the end of the line, there is an advisor doing nonsense without our knowing it.  It is our obligation and duty," he added.

"Pau de arara," which literally means "macaw stick," was used by the intelligence agencies of the Brazilian military regime as a method of torture to interrogate detainees and political prisoners.

Currently, there is an ongoing investigation against Tourism Minister Marcelo Alvaro Antonio, formally accused of electoral fraud by the Prosecutor's Office, although Bolsonaro has kept him in office.

Bolsonaro, who on January 1st will complete a year in power, is a captain of the Army reserve, leader of the Brazilian far-right and defends the military dictatorship.  He also denies the existence of the coup that gave rise to 21 years of a military government.

This is not the first time that the government has made controversial comments on this bloody episode of the country’s history.  In August, he called the late Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra a "national hero."   He was head in Sao Paulo of the Army organization accused of torturing a number of political prisoners to death during the dictatorship.

On another occasion, he questioned the official truth about the disappearance and death of an activist during that period.  He also changed the majority of the members that make up the Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappeared Persons (Cemdp) during the dictatorship by like-minded politicians and military because, he said, the government is now "right-wing."

In March, the Bolsonaro government decided to "commemorate" the anniversary of the coup that gave rise to the regime.

According to a report prepared by a Truth Commission that investigated the human rights violations committed during that period, the dictatorship left hundreds dead and disappeared for political reasons and thousands of cases of torture.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Bolsonaro Says He's Open To Meeting Argentina's Fernandez

“Argentina has a lot to offer us and Brazil has a lot to offer Argentina as well,” he said earlier in a speech to the CNI industrial lobby.

Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has changed his aggressive tone towards Argentina’s new left-leaning government on Wednesday and said he was open to a visit from incoming President Alberto Fernandez, who he previously branded a “red bandit.”

RELATED: Brazil: Bolsonaro's Hate Speech Attacks Greta Thunberg Again

Bolsonaro said he hoped neighboring Argentina will do well under its new administration because it is Brazil’s largest trade partner in Latin America. “We will continue to be partners,” he told reporters in Brasilia.

“Argentina has a lot to offer us and Brazil has a lot to offer Argentina as well,” he said earlier in a speech to the CNI industrial lobby.

Bolsonaro adopted a more conciliatory stance since Fernandez took office on Tuesday, highlighting the importance of relations with Brazil in his swearing-in speech. Brazil was the only country Fernandez mentioned specifically in the speech.

Bolsonaro said Fernandez had sent an “excellent” signal.

Yet the far-right Brazilian president, a former army captain turned politician, criticized the new Argentine leader for picking a defense minister who was not a military officer.

Bolsonaro broke with bilateral tradition by declaring early on that he would not attend Argentina’s presidential handover.

Brazilian media reported that Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and other senior members of his cabinet convinced Bolsonaro that Brazil should be present at the event and, at the last minute, he decided to send Vice President Hamilton Mourao.

With two-way trade worth $27 billion last year, the incentives for cooperation between South America’s two biggest economies are strong.

Argentina is the largest market for Brazilian manufactured goods, particularly automobiles, and its financial woes have weighed on Brazil’s anemic economic recovery.

Speaking to businessmen, Bolsonaro urged rapid ratification of the free trade agreement signed this year between the European Union and Mercosur, the South American common market formed by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The deal’s future has been in doubt due to environmental concerns in some European nations and reservations expressed by Fernandez during the election campaign.

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Leonardo DiCaprio Responds to Bolsonaro’s Claims He Funded Amazon Fires

Leonardo DiCaprio has responded to the accusations made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday that the Hollywood actor is behind some of the fires in the Amazon rainforest.

DiCaprio released a statement via Instagram on Saturday that reads: “At this time of crisis for the Amazon, I support the people of Brazil working to save their natural and cultural heritage. They are an amazing, moving and humbling example of the commitment and passion needed to save the environment.”

Bolsonaro told supporters Friday: “DiCaprio is a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money to set the Amazon on fire,” referring to a police raid at the headquarters of two nonprofit groups the Brazilian president believes to be behind the fires in the Amazonian state of Para.

Several volunteer firefighters, who deny wrongdoing, were arrested and later released. Local police say they are being investigated for allegedly igniting fires to obtain funding through nonprofits. Federal prosecutors say their investigation points to local land-grabbers as the primary suspects.

The number of fires in Brazil this year hit a record number of any year since 2013 and is up by 85 percent from last year, according to several reports. The country's space research center has already detected more than 80,000 fires in 2019 so far.

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International Criminal Court receives complaint about Bolsonaro's 'crimes against humanity'

The complaint states that the president incites the genocide of Brazil's indigenous communities

A complaint has been filed yesterday (Nov 27) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Jair Bolsonaro. The Brazilian president is being accused of "crimes against humanity" and "incitement to genocide against indigenous peoples" in Brazil. The complaint has been filed by the Arns Commission and the Human Rights Advocacy Collective.

J'ACCUSE 

The ICC will decide whether to open an investigation. The complaint says that Bolsonaro incited violence against indigenous and traditional communities, weakened law enforcement, and did not react to environmental crimes in the Amazon Forest.

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