Saturday, May 06, 2017

Brazil's general strike and how the Brazilian corporate media tried to ignore it

The first ten minutes of this report from Aljazeera's Listening Post, Brazil: An inconvenient protest for the media 05/06/2017, discusses how the corporate media provided highly politicized coverage of the general strike in Brazil against the hardline neoliberal economic policies of the government of President Michel Temer, who took power in a disgraceful "soft coup" last year. (Simon Romero, Dilma Rousseff Is Ousted as Brazil’s President in Impeachment Vote New York Times 08/31/2017)

The general strike itself sounds like kind of a big deal, to put it mildly:

A general strike disrupted cities around Brazil on Friday as unions marshaled resistance to austerity measures proposed by the scandal-ridden government of President Michel Temer, reflecting his struggle to persuade voters that his proposals to overhaul pension systems and labor laws are necessary.

Tensions flared in Rio de Janeiro, with schools warning parents to keep students at home, security forces using tear gas on protesters at ferry terminals near Guanabara Bay and clashes erupting in Santos Dumont Airport. In São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, protesters blocked highways, halted much of the public transit network and shut down access to an array of public buildings.

The strike also hit cities elsewhere in Brazil, including Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and the capital, Brasília, though many businesses in the country were still able to open on Friday, at least partly, or operate at a slower pace than usual.

“The strike is completely justified, but I’d be fired if I didn’t go to work,” said Marco Basaglia, 48, a bank employee in São Paulo who walked to work Friday instead of taking public transportation. “Temer hates working people. This is the worst government Brazil has ever had.” [my emphasis]

BBC News reports (Brazil hit by first general strike in two decades 04/28/2017):

Polls suggest President Temer is very unpopular but up until today he had not yet faced a mass demonstration like Friday's general strike.

Many private and public schools are closed across the country. In Sao Paulo - the country's biggest city - most bus, metro and train services are not operating. There are few people on the streets here and it feels like a holiday.

The government says the current pension system is unsustainable and is dragging down the economy. Unions say the president wants Brazil's poor and unassisted to pay the price for the country's economic woes.
Página/12 suggests that the general strike has encouraged division within the President's political coalition in the National Congress.

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