May Day

“May 1st is patrimony of the working class,” says MST leader João Paulo Rodrigues

Unified act in Curitiba in defense of rights in Brazil's post-coup era and campaign for the liberty of ex-president Lula

May 1st in 1980 / Memorial da Democracia

The Landless Workers' Movement (MST), along with the People’s Brazil and People Without Fear Fronts, joined the mobilizations of May 1st, International Workers Day, celebrated this Tuesday (1).

For the first time since the redemocratization of the country, the seven central Brazilian trade unions (CUT, Força Sindical, CTB, NCST, UGT, CSB, and Intersindical) participated in a unified act on this day, under the slogan 'In the defense of rights and to Free Lula,' in reference to Brazil's ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is being held at the Federal Police headquarters in Curitiba.

João Paulo Rodrigues, from the national board of the MST, reaffirms the importance of this day of struggle and remembers the other issues that are part of the national debate. “This coup government continues to try and pass the pension reform. It is important that we stop this as well as the attempt to privatize Brazilian state-owned companies, especially Electrobras, that will be a significant loss for the state and the workers. We cannot accept the denationalization of an area like this,” he stated.

Adding to the national act that occured in Curitiba, João Paulo highlighted the need for other acts to take place in Brazil on May Day. “It is important that we have other May 1st demonstrations in other capital cities, smaller cities. May 1st is patrimony of the working class, and it has to be transformed into a May 1st of struggle,” he stated.

Nalu Farias, from the World March of Women, believes that Lula’s imprisonment marks a deepening of the coup and the beginning of the creation of a state of exception. “May 1st is a very important day of struggle. We always participate in it as the women’s movement and this year our central slogan is the demand of ‘Free Lula,’ because we know that Lula is imprisoned without evidence. He is a political prisoner, he represents emblematic aspects of this moment, of what is the coup in Brazil,” explained the activist.

The imprisonment of Lula is related to the growing criminalization of people’s movements, and it is a point of unity that should be explored in the rally in Curitiba, according to João Paulo. “To reaffirm the necessity of unity of the central trade unions with the people’s movements and progressive parties and the possibility of this May 1st being unified in a city as symbolic as Curitiba is very important not only for the central trade unions, but for all of the people’s movements that have been struggling against the coup government for more than two years,” he states.

In Curitiba, the mobilization had the presence of artists in the Plaza of the Democracy (Plaza Santos Andrade). There was also a political act with the presence of the central trade union presidents, representatives of the people’s movements, and parliamentarians. The venue is approximately nine kilometers from the Federal Police station where Lula is being held as a political prisoner, since April 7.

In the city of São Paulo, the protest took place in the Plaza of the Republic.

Edition: Diego Sartorato | Version in English: The Dawn News