“Our task is to take to the streets”, says worker as refineries allowed to go on sale

Supreme Court authorized the sale of refineries by Bolsonaro government without consent from Legislative

Translated by: Ítalo Piva

Brasil de Fato | Fortaleza |
The Bolsonaro government plans to sell eight Petrobras refineries - Screenshot/Brasil de Fato

After last Thursday’s Supreme Court (STF) decision authorizing the sale of Petrobras refineries by the Federal government without consent from Congress, the movement contrary to privatizing the state run company, continues to mobilize against Bolsonaro’s economic plan.

The affirmation comes from oil rig technician Alexandre Finamori, who works at the Gabriel Passos Refinery (Regap), located in the state of Minas Gerais, and is one of the directors of the state’s Petroleum Industry Workers’ Union (Sindipetro – MG).

“Faced with this, our task is to take to the streets, talk to the population, share technical data, whatever information is necessary, and articulate an organized civil society, since all of society will suffer with privatization”, highlighted Finamori.

He points out that though the STF decision favors a hastening of the sale processes, the battle against privatization needs to keep up with the same pace, and reminds us that the task of “reaching out to society to clarify the negative aspects of privatization”, was important before the Supreme Court’s decision and remains on the minds of workers.

Finamori’s narrative is reinforced by the head of the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Petrobras, senator Jean Paul Prates, who says the group has already begun expanding their discussions with civil society” about the matter.

“We are not a movement exclusively made up of left wing parliamentarians, we also have people from the center, from the right, all concerned with Congress’ constitutional prerogative and with the mess this maneuver from the government will create. The consequences will be severe, it is our duty to warn people”, he said while speaking to Brasil de Fato.

For Prates, the comprehension that the judicial and political battle isn’t over, is essential at this moment when the government has plans to hand over hundreds of state run companies over to private enterprises, and the decision by the STF is seen by the Federal government, as yet another green light for the ultra neoliberal economic agenda of finance minister Paulo Guedes.

Mário Dal Zot, one of the directors of the Unified Federation of Oil Workers (FUP) and president of the Petrobras Workers Share Holders Association (Anapetro), defends that it is necessary to make society understand the economic and political reasons that allow speculators to directly affect the pockets of average citizens, via what is produced by Petrobras.

“Today in Brazil, if he wanted, with one stroke of his pen, the president could reduce the price of fuels – diesel, gasoline, cooking gas – all over the country. He doesn’t do it because he doesn’t want to, and he will become ever more dependent. By handing over these refineries to private capital, that’s when he will have no autonomy at all to deal with these issues”, he argued.


The government’s objective is to sell eight refineries, three of which are already under a privatization plan.

The president of the Parliamentary Front in Defense of Petrobras sees an “oversimplification” on behalf of the government when it comes to debating the sales. He underlines the fact that “the refineries have different impacts locally and different consequences will be felt in the broader supply chain”.

“The government is trying to sell the idea that all the refineries are the same and interchangeable, that they are a monopoly. That is a load of crap, the market is already open to private enterprise, they can come in whenever they want. What they are really doing is sabotaging the strategic public option when it comes to managing them”, criticizes the lawmaker.

The Bolsonaro administration has been defending the sale of Petrobras refineries with the argument that it is necessary to reduce state participation in the economy and in the company’s debts. Out of all Federally owned companies in operation, the oil giant has the largest number of subsidiaries, totaling 35.

Edited by: Leandro Melito