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Brazzil - Economy - July 2004

Brazil Rallies Against Unemployment

The latest statistics from the Brazilian government indicate a
national unemployment rate of 12 percent in Brazil. In the Greater
São Paulo this number is much higher: 19.7 percent or 2,000,044
people who should be working are unemployed. In dozens of
cities people are going to the streets to decry this situation.

Luis Brasilino and Lauro Veiga Filho


Picture "We are experiencing the greatest social crisis in the history of Brazil because of the high rate of unemployment caused mainly by the economic policies of the federal government, according to economist José Carlos de Assis, coordinator of the movement Unemployment Zero.

July 12-17 has been designated as the week for manifestations in favor of employment and protests against the policies of Brazil's Finance Minister, Antonio Palocci.

The Coordination of Social Movements (CMS) of the campaign, "Brazil Wants Work", has organized manifestations and protests in dozens of cities, prepared by each region of the country.

Mauro Cruz, coordinator of the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD) states that unemployment was chosen as the theme because it affects all sectors of society. According to him, "It is a question that unites students and union workers, as well as those who are landless or homeless".

The latest statistics from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) indicate an unemployment rate of 12 percent in Brazil. The Greater São Paulo region has an unemployment rate of 19.7 percent (or 2,000,044 persons unemployed).

Even with the creation of some new jobs, statistics show that businesses are hiring workers at lower salaries and, in 75 percent of the cases, without registration of the official working card. Thus, workers have little or no guarantees or rights working in these precarious situations.

The Unified Workers' Center (CUT) has designated July 16 as the National Day of Struggle and Mobilization for Change in Economic Policies. Joining with the protests of the Coordination of Social Movements, CUT is having protest marches, strikes, and encampments of the unemployed in 14 states.

The platform of demands includes: economic growth for workers, generation of jobs, higher salaries, maintenance of worker rights, just distribution of income, public service of quality, reduction of high interest rates, agrarian reform, and rejection of the Free Trade Act of the Americas.

Social Movements and many economists are convinced that only a large transformation in the country's economic policy will revert the quadrant of the current social crisis.

Mauricio Andrade, the executive coordinator of the non-governmental organization, Citizenship Action, states that "A mobilization will demand the creation of an effective policy in the areas of agrarian reform and urban employment. In both cases, it is necessary to rethink and discuss these questions, as well as the external debt".

According to Antonio Carlos Spis, the communication secretary of CUT, "The National Day of Struggle wants to change the way that the government conducts the economy, guaranteeing an allocation of resources for social investments".

For Spis, mobilizations constitute a necessary element to help the government to break with conservative sectors of society. Assis agrees and states that, within the current political conjuncture, the unemployment situation will only change with the mobilization of society.

According to Andrade, "We will transform this country only when civil society is heard and respected by authorities."

A national registration of the unemployed is being taken by Citizenship Action and the Coordination of Social Movements to help organize and widen their level of participation in the defense of their rights.

One objective of the registration is to register the greatest possible number of unemployed throughout the country in order to pressure businesses and public powers. Assis believes that the registration of unemployed is a wonderful idea.

"It can have the same effect for the urban excluded as the Landless Movement (MST) has had for rural workers". The registration will be complete by September 7, the date of the annual Cry of the Excluded national march.

Luis Brasilino and Lauro Veiga Filho are Brazilian journalists. This article appeared originally in Portuguese in the newspaper Brasil de Fato - http://www.brasildefato.com.br. You can contact the authors writing to redacao@brasildefato.com.br

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