Stampede Starts: Over 400 Leaders Quit Brazil’s Workers Party

The extent of the disillusion with the corruption scandal involving the Brazilian administration of President Lula da Silva is taking its toll in the ruling Workers Party, four Deputies resigned and 400 grass root leaders have left.

This happens on top of the resurgence this week of the Landless Movement protest campaign against undelivered promises of land reform with massive street protests and occupation of government buildings.

"I feel bad, I’m not happy, but if I remain in the Workers Party I have no voice", said Maria José Maninha, one of the four Congress members who abandoned the party.

Ms. Maninha who was one of the party’s founders in 1980 added she was leaving because of the corruption scandal and her disenchantment with the current economic policy of the Lula administration.

But also because according to Brazilian electoral legislation if she wants to run for the 2006 October general election, candidates must have at least one year in the party they will represent and the registering period ends next Friday.

Ms Maninha and her three colleagues will be registering with the Socialism and Freedom party, PSOL.

With the exit of the four Deputies the Workers Party Lower House representation is down to 84 and the PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro, Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement) with its 87 members becomes the leading group.

Besides, two of the original founders of the party, although with no legislative posts, also have left for the PSOL. Senator and former Education minister Cristovam Buarque had also left the party earlier. Buarque went to the PDT.

PSOL was founded June 2004 by a Senator and three Deputies who were fired from the Workers Party in December 2003 for criticizing and opposing the administration’s economic policies.

The 400 grass root leaders belonging to trade unions and social groupings are also leaving because of the corruption scandal and the recent party’s (September 18) election where apparently the leading faction (made up mostly of those allegedly involved in managing illegal undeclared funds) and which has ruled for the last ten years won the first round. The run off is scheduled for October 9.

Meantime militants from the Landless Movement occupied the building of the Brazilian Colonization and Land Reform Institute in six major cities including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Florianópolis and Goiânia.

"Our movement is promoting these takeovers to protest the non compliance of the agreement signed last May 17 between the Lula administration and the participants in the Land Reform National March," said a spokesperson for the protestors.

This article appeared originally in Mercopress – www.mercopress.com.

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