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In addition to demanding actions against macho violence, the women of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) mobilized in Brazil this week against the pension reform promoted by Michel Temer´s administration. The reform, which extends the retirement age and changes the way people contributes, has a negative impact on all workers, but especially on women, and mainly the women who work in rural areas.
According to the MST, over 40,000 women mobilized in 22 States and the Brazilian federal district to protest against the social rights cut proposed by the Brazilian government. "We are all awaken. Against capital and agribusiness. Not one right less!" was the slogan for the National Day of Landless Women Struggles, which was extended through the week in Brazil.
Since March 6th, the women organized massive marches, road blockings, gatherings and occupied buildings. The offices of the National Social Security Institute (INSS) were the main target: according to the MST, between Monday and Wednesday, the women occupied the offices of this institute in Formosa de Goiás (Goiás), Juazeiro y Barreiras (Bahía), Maceiló, Arapiraca y Delmiro Gouveia (Alagoas), Vitória de Santo Antão, Goiaba y Caruaru (Pernambuco), Ceará-Mirim, Mossoró y João Camara (Rio Grande do Norte), Itapipoca (Ceará), Belém (Pará). In addition to occupations, the marches in several cities ended at INSS offices, and in other areas of the country, women carried out events outside this institute.
Currently, rural women in Brazil are able to retire at 55 and men at 60. The government´s bill aims to raise the retirement age to 65 for all workers, which will force rural women to work for 10 years longer.
The landless women denounced this week that the reform aims to cut down social rights of workers, but that nothing is done with the companies that have huge debts with the INSS. One of the most powerful messages perhaps was seen in Sao Paulo, where over 1500 women held a protest action outside the Vale Fertilizers factory. The protest took place on March 7th during the morning and blocked the entrance to the industrial complex. Vale is one of the main debtors of the Brazilian social security system. According to Brasil de Fato news outlet "Vale is on the list of the National Tax Authorities as one of the largest debtors in Brazil. The company owes 276 million reais (88 million dollars) to the INSS". Brasil de Fato added that "the debt of public, private companies, foundations and institutions with the Social Security System amounts to over 426 trillion reais. This figure nearly triples the INSS deficit, almost 250 trillion reais in 2016, according to the federal government. Among the companies that owe the most we find Bradesco, Caixa, Marfrig, JBS and Vale".
Loyal to the struggle for lands, the MST members also occupied the offices of the National Colonization and Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA): in Salvador (Bahia), João Pessoa, Sergipe and Maceiló (Alagoas).
Imagen: Mobilization of MST Women in Sao Paulo - Image: MST.
“As women, we are the ones who maintain hope. And I think that while we do this, we need to encourage many other women and tell them to dare to go out, to raise their voices, to avoid being afraid to speak. (…) Women have been told to be afraid within our social and cultural circles. (…) We are covered by a blanket of fear, but we need to move forward with a blanket of hope”, said Jakeline Romero Epiayu.
The European Union (EU) made clear this Friday in Geneva that it is ready to block the advance of the negotiations at the United Nations for a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights violations.
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