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In a decisive vote, Brazil's House of Representatives approved the basic text of the "reform" of Social Security, with 379 votes in favour and 131 against, on July 8, 2019. The debate had been held in plenary in a heated manner with the opposition making a great effort to avoid this disaster.

The implementation of the reform would mean the destruction of the country's social security system. From now on, workers will have to work for about ten years longer to retire with a pension they can live on. In addition, the amount of the pension could be half their previous salary. The pensions left by husbands for their widows will be half the minimum wage. We can say that we are facing a devastating situation in the country.

We need to examine the members of parliament who voted for this reform. Throughout the debate they insisted that it was to end privileges and that the reform was necessary to prevent the country from falling apart.

Scoundrels! At the same time that they were making their speeches, saying hypocritically that public servants and teachers were privileged, theycovered over the fact that the Special Commission of the House, which analysed the reform of the Social Security, re-established the tax exemption for the agro-exporters, which would have generated a tax revenue of some R$ 84 billion.

Many of these deputies, who say that the country was facing financial breakdown and just could not afford to pay the pensions anymore, defended and approved the Repetro Law, adopted during the Temer government, which granted tax benefits to oil companies that will exploit the area of the pre-salt and post-salt layers, and is effective until 2040. These exemptions will cause losses in tax revenue of about R$ 1 trillion.

If the country is lacking money, what about the wealth of governmental officials, deputies and senators? Will they be giving up their pension entitlements and other privileges? So, for whom was the reform really necessary?

This reform was made to meet the needs of businessmen and bankers who have always resented this element of the budget. The Social Security budget, which was intended to help workers in their old age or in case of accidents or illness, was always seen as an obstacle by the truly privileged; businessmen, bankers and agro-exporters, who wanted to get their hands on it. Now, the state will have more money to allocate to these parasites on society.

Clearly, the vote in parliament was a class vote; a vote for the rich and super-rich, for the bourgeois establishment, for the bankers, industrialists and agrobusiness, for Brazilian and international capital. It is no wonder, that all the bourgeois parties, the backers of the government, as well as the traditional parties of the Brazilian elite, voted for the "reform". It is also no accident that a significant number of the "centre-left" MPs of the PTD und PSB also voted for it, although the leaderships spoke against it. Only the deputies of the reformist and left wing parties; PT, PSOL and PCdoB, which claim to represent the working class and are historically and organisationally tied to the workers' and trade union movements, voted against this historic attack on social rights.

Our struggle cannot, and must not, stop here. We need to continue to organise and mobilise the resistance of the working class. The vote in Congress was only the first act. There will now be a longer period of amendments and alterations until on August 6 another vote will be held in the Congress. If there is still a majority for it, the Bill will be passed to the Senate, the second chamber of the parliament August 8.

It is clear that we cannot expect Congress, never mind the Senate, to stop the pension cuts. There will be a lot of “horse trading” where this or that profession (e.g. teachers and police) will get extra rules, where the minimum age of retirement or the formula for the relationships between contribution-duration and pension-level will be adjusted. We can safely expect that these will to the ddetriment of the majority even if there are some improvements for layers of society supported by particular parliamentary factions. We can have no illusions whatsoever in these negotiations! Only mass mobilisations in the workplaces, offices and on the streets can bring the current governmental and bourgeois offensive to a halt.

The CUT, the largest and most important trade union federation in the country has called for mass assemblies in July and for a week of protest from August 5 - 12, which will culminate in a "day of struggle against the pension reform" on August 13, to bring the country to a standstill.

Clearly, all left wing and working class parties and the social movements; the students, the women's movement, the landless, peasants and indigenious peoples as well as the homeless workers' movment, should link up to build a mass united front against the pension reform. We, the Liga Socialista, propose to build councils of action in all workplaces and offices, in the schools, universities, in the working class estates, the favelas, in town and countryside, to prepare, organise and lead the action. The councils should be elected by mass meetings, be accountable and recallable to their base and form the basis for a national, democratic coordination of the struggle.

The "week of action" is a positive step forward. But, from past experience, we know that temporary and limited action, even if it is a one day general strike, will not stop the government and the bosses. We need to call and organise an indefinite general strike to defeat the law, and it needs to be based on the councils of action. In order to stop provocations and attacks by the far right, paramilitary or (proto)fascist forces or the police, the movement needs to organise self-defence on a mass scale.

Such a movement clearly could not only stop the pension reform, such an indefinite general strike would also pose the question of power, the question which class runs society and in whose interest.
The important thing is that we know how to build the struggle defeat the law into a struggle for a socialist society, that we are prepared to turn a defensive struggle and a general strike into a struggle for power. From resistance to revolution!