Dear RN list, Jan. 13 Just today the Brazilian currency, the real, was devalued. This is about all the news that most people in North America, at least, are likely to get about what financial warfare means for Brazil. But the real news is about what happens to people and nature when debt payments become impossible. The news below is very saddening for me. Brazil, a country I have come to love for its joyousness, its anti-military tradition, its crazy, ebullient humour and incredible diversity, is suffering terribly. Would it were not so! all the best, Jan P.S. In preparing this message to send to you, I see that César Roberto Magellan, by quoting the MST motto (MST = Movimento Sem Terra, the famous peasants' movement in Brazil) has given us some hint of how to work for a more livable world in the face of these conditions. The motto is: "Organize, occupy and produce". *********************************************************************** Date: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 01:33:47 +1300 From: "janice" <•••@••.•••> Subject: Debt Forces Cut of Brazil Rainforest Debt forces cut of Brazil rainforest project Debt and the IMF have forced Brazil to effectively abandon a key project to save the Amazon rainforest. Brazil is the world's biggest debtor, owing nearly $180 billion. Last year there was a huge outflow of speculative capital, and the IMF lent Brazil more than $40 billion so it could pay its debts and provide the money demanded by speculators wanting to withdraw capital. But the IMF loan was conditional on a stringent austerity programme, with sharp cuts in government spending. Social services for the poor and environmental programmes have been particular targets. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, rich nations agreed to provide 90% of the funding for a $250 million project to survey the Amazon rainforest. This is a first step in protecting it from destruction by loggers, farmers and miners, and to instead exploiting the commercial potential of its biodiversity. But now Brazil has been forced to withdraw its tiny 10% contribution as part of the IMF imposed cuts. And the donors seem likely to withdraw their share if Brazil does not pay its part, even if the IMF has imposed the cuts. "It is a far more irrational and perverse consequence of the IMF agreement than even the harshest critics of the IMF could have imagined," commented Stephan Schwartzman, a senior scientist at the Washington-based Environmental Defence Fund, quoted in the London Guardian (2 January 1999). Meanwhile, it is still not clear if even the IMF loan will be enough to allow Brazil to keep up payments. The Financial Times (6 January 1999) reports that one result of the austerity measures is that individual Brazilian states are now strapped for cash, and are refusing to pay their debts to the central government. Jubilee 2000 - -- For MAI-not (un)subscription information, posting guidelines and links to other MAI sites please see http://mai.flora.org/ ------------------------------ Date: Mon, 11 Jan 1999 13:52:46 -0200 To: •••@••.••• From: •••@••.••• (R. Magellan) Subject: Social upheaval in Brazil ? Cc: •••@••.••• Hugh Rodwell <•••@••.•••> wrote: Subject: Social upheaval in Brazil Sun, 10 Jan 1999 16:36 "Massive, violent responses to the massive, violent attacks on the working class, including some of its traditionally more docile sectors, are flaring up everywhere. More evidence from the back of beyond, forwarded from the Guardian." There is NO social upheaval in Brazil, nor "massive, violent responses" etc. ----at least for the time being... The town mentioned in the Guardian report (below) is a very liitle one with no importance whatsoever and very far from any big or medium-sized city. I didn't read anything about this riot in the newspapers and didn't heard about it in the radio either (well, I'm not used to watch TV). Much more important than that riot in a remote village has been the occupation of one of the Ford car factories by 2,000 workers who were fired on Christmas. Their families, including new-born babies, also joined them. This action has shaken the moribund trade union movement, now under feeble or corrupt leaderships and weakened by the rising unemployment. Nevertheless, Brazil is slipping down into a Russian-like situation, step by step (and Argentina will follow, due to the close relationship between both countries). Let's enumerate some features of it: a) The prevailing interest rate is the world highest in order to satisfy both national and international financial capital, what is wrecking everybody, including the productive sectors of the bourgeoisie, not to mention the Federal Union, States and Municipalities; b) Unemployment has continuously been surpassing its historic records each new month and knows no age, sex, race, profession, class or regional boundaries; c) The Minas Gerais State (the 3rd. of Brazil) has decreed a non-negotiated moratorium of its debts for 90 days (wages excepted) and other states may follow, though risking a federal intervention; d) Both heavy and light industries have been either closing their doors or changing owners (the president of the Central Bank, Gustavo Franco, has stirred the bourgeoisie up at saying that Brazilian companies are now quite cheap thanks to the neoliberal policies and so foreign investors are invited to buy them at bargain prices); e) The world's largest privatization program it is still in course, to the benefit of big capital, both Brazilian and foreign, besides growing suspicions of widespread corruption (surprisingly, FBI has voluntereed to cooperate with its Brazilian counterpart on the matter, but its behavior has seemed to be of throwing a smoke screen on the facts); f) In several places the payments of wages of civil servants are in delay of up to 4 months and many private business are ilegally reducing salaries and increasing labor journeys and failing to comply with social security and labor statutes and agreements (this is called "flexibilization" of labor contracts); in some cases salaries are being paid in merchandises produced by the employing company; g) The rate of insolvency and bad debts in the economy (both consumer's and corporate's ones) grows each new month and has reached its historic peak; h) The growth of urban slums has sky-rocketed in several big cities and now are the new "homes" of decaying middle class people; i) The minimum wage was practically frozen at its June, 1994 level, despite the rise of prices of the basic staple since then; j) It is not so uncommon that workers with regular jobs (low paid ones) sleep in the streets for having no money enough to pay for transportation back home; in the cold times and places some of them frozen to death; k) 60% of the emergency care in public hospitals in 1998 was ascribed to hungry and malnutrition causes (hospitals serve meals, after all); etc. etc. About one year and half ago there were clashes between PM (the military police, an equivalent to the National Guard in USA, controlled by the states) and the federal Army in two states because the state soldiers had not received wages for more than 3 months and rebelled. It had never happened such a thing in Brazil. Though being very calm by now, Brazil may happens to be a political time bomb, as Russia already is. By the way, Brazil's GNP is larger than the Russian one (the world's 9th GNP) and the exposure of US banks and of the international financial system in Brazil is very larger than in Russia. The domino effect will be worse if the country crashes, as it will eventually happen. While the permanent crisis of global capitalism goes on, MST (the landless movement) has taken the political lead and has been pushing agrarian reform ahead through the occupation of idle lands. "Organize, occupy and produce" is its successful motto. In solidarity, Roberto Magellan Paix entre nous, guerre aux tyrans (....) Ouvriers, paysans, nous sommes Le grand PARTI DES TRAVAILLEURS. (L' Internationale) #################################################### Civil Servants Riot in Brazil Town Saturday January 9, 1999 1:00 am RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) - Hundreds of civil servants demanding back pay rioted in a [town in a] remote Brazilian town Friday, setting fire to government buildings and the mayor's home, TV Globo reported. Some 500 workers in Sao Paulo de Olivenca, angry at not being paid for five months, took part in the violence and forced the mayor to flee, TV Globo reported. Police from other towns were called in. The rioters also invaded a government-owned farm and killed a number of pigs, TV Globo said. Sao Paulo de Olivenca is in Amazonas State, 3,200 miles northwest of Rio.