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"Tell your children there was no room for hope before.”

Translated Thursday 16 October 2014, by Caroline Lefour

This Sunday, Brazil holds crucial general and presidential elections. After the mobilizations of 2013, the left is taking stock of Dilma Rousseff’s mandate.

Sao Paulo (Brazil), Special Envoy. Renné is the personification of a phlegmatic individual. While Brazil, passionate about Sunday’s elections, is tearing itself apart, he is comparing and deliberating. He is also the perfect example of the youth of today which made a spectacular entry into the political arena during the mobilizations of 2013. "Nobody agreed but everyone was in the street", he sums up, a smile in the corner of his mouth. This young grant recipient from São Paulo University experienced the first demonstrations which were against the 20 centimes rise in the tariff for a transport ticket. "The minimum salary is 220 Euros. If I take the bus all week, that poor quality service costs me 50 Euros. In my opinion, the demonstrations were an important learning experience." The young people showed their capacity to lead a social struggle. Elsewhere, such as São Paulo, run by Dilma Rousseff’s Worker’s Party, tariffs were frozen and improvement works instigated aiming to put a stop to daily trips fluctuating between 4 and 6 hours in the major cities. For the first time in Brazil’s history, more graduates (8 million) will go to the polls than illiterates (5.8 million). So many young people who are now questioning the political system without hesitation. "The youth of today have realized the importance of the struggle. It is they who will vote on Sunday. 50 million young people will go to the polls and it will be the first time for 11 million of them. This population is demanding, is waiting and is not afraid. They have never known dictatorship. These elections are the opportunity to test the system because today’s youth is the symbol of all of the contradictions of the past years", President of the Young Socialist Union, Renan Alencar explained. That said, Renné has not yet made his choice for the presidential election. He considers Marina Silver (see opposite) to be too liberal. And outgoing President, Dilma Rousseff’s program of accelerated growth, which aims at the construction of major infrastructures, does not go far enough. Ultimately, Renné seems to want to push the executive to accelerate reform, like the organized movements. "We must combine forces to continue change", responds Adilson Araujo, President of the affiliated trade union of Brazil (Centrale des travailleurs du Brésil). "We are lagging behind after having suffered 500 years of submission to a combination of colonization and imperialism by the United States, the IMF and the World Bank." At the end of Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s mandate in 2002, the country had 16.7 million unemployed. Lula’s election to the Palacio do Planalto opened up new perspectives through dialogue with social movements, the regular increase of the minimum salary and social programs.

Time for choices

On Monday evening, in the heart of the working-class neighborhood, Campo Limpo, former President, Lula was striving to show how much he and Dilma Rousseff had heard the requests of the working-class, which were expressed in the worst strikes ever: "The people who live here can tell how much the situation has evolved. In the past, mothers would return from grocery shopping with an empty basket because everything was too expensive. Now meat is accessible, we can eat at restaurants, travel, go to university. Who would have imagined that? Companheiras, tell your children that before there was no room for hope. The population is concerned for its security, its health, its education and transport. The desire for change is real." And with good reason. The minimum salary may have increased but it is still below the 995 Euros necessary to live in dignity, according to trade union organizations. "It may be one of the hardest elections in history because the society must choose between two opposing projects", stresses Joao Antonio, new President of the international trade union confederation and member of the main trade union organization. The power struggle is on. Dilma Rousseff, supported by a coalition of eight parties, has to deal with a diversity of handicaps. Her main ally, the Brazilian democratic movement Party, is a centrist group which has also worked with Cardoso. Its members represent the interests of the major landowners or the industrial upper middle classes. It is also important to take the nature of the PT into account, the majority of which now votes moderately. Finally Dilma Roussef’s party does not have the majority in Congress and many bills are systematically blocked. "It is not a revolutionary government but, from the dominating class’s point of view, the executive is run by a gang of communists", jokes José Reinaldo Carvalho, National Secretary of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCdoB). "Nevertheless, if Dilma is not re-elected, we can expect a certain number of setbacks, the deregulation of the economy and a loss of national sovereignty. "It is sure that regional integration like Alba or Mercosur will be halted and priority given to bilateral agreements with the European Union and the United States". There is no doubt; it is time for Brazil to choose.

An election with continental and worldwide echoes.

A year ago at the General Assembly of the United Nations, the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff criticized the fact that she had been spied on by Washington. With the strength of its 200 million inhabitants, under Lula da Silva’s leadership, then that of Dilma Rousseff, Brazil has distanced itself from Washington as has part of the South American continent. Sunday’s elections will have repercussions for the whole subcontinent. Brazil together with Bolivia and Venezuela are amongst those who promote progressive regional integration. At a global level, too, this world power defies the domination of the United States, becoming with Russia, China, India and South Africa an alternative financier for development projects.
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