Brazilian President Bolsonaro heads for tough times as workers’ strikes paralyze economy
Written by: George Kalisa
Saturday, June 15th, 2019, 1:27
President Jair Bolsonaro administration’s future is facing threats from the continued pressure amounted by dozens of workers’ unions and the left-wing parties. On June14 thousands of Brazilians across the country took to the streets protesting against ostracized pension reform proposals which seek to raise retirement age and effect unprecedented cuts on federal budget on higher education among others.
Far-right populist won with 55.7 per cent of the vote in the runoff last October after he failed to garner a majority with 46 per cent in an election between him and Workers Party (PT) left-winger Fernando Haddad.
Bolsonaro,63, survived an assassination attempt when he was stabbed in the stomach by a knife wielding man at a campaigning rally, a month away to the first round of the polls held October7.
The strikers see the reforms as a move to endorse inequality claiming that Bolsonaro administration treats members of the judiciary, army and legislature as first class citizens against other Brazilians.
"Pension reform is important" but not "as it is being presented by the government," Ricardo Patah, President of General Union of Workers (UGT) told reporters
"All workers must be treated the same and there shouldn't be first or second-class citizens," he said, punching holes in the controversial reforms which give preferential treatment to the military, judges and deputies.
Protested barricaded highways, burning car tyres and attacked public facilities like offices and highway tolls. Anti- Bolsonaro slogans and his reforms were taped on entrances of schools, hospitals, banks and commercial buildings countrywide.
To quell the violent strikes police responded with teargas and rubber bullets.
Rife political graft fueled by impunity had eaten up the Brazilian economy leading to several economic woes and the worst recession in a resource-rich country.
Bolsonaro, a former army captain enjoys huge military support. The military and police joined jubilant crowds of his supporters after the Supreme Court had announced him winner of the election last year, a scenario which averts possibilities of ending his administration.
The little known President came to the political limelight following his intimate defense of the former military regime that reportedly stifled human rights and subjected the civilian population to extra-judicial arrest and detentions including mostly politicians from the Workers Party.
Political analysts say neighbouring Venezuela maybe celebrating the unfolding events in Brazil as the relations between the two countries had strained for quite long.
There are no reports so far implicating Bolsonaro’s political rival, leftist and Ex-Sao Mayor Fernando Haddad in the Friday strikes.
Bolsonaro is the first far-right President since the end of the 21-year old military dictatorship.