"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
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
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
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 -
You can contact the authors writing to email@example.com.