SAO PAULO – Labor unions mounted protests here and in other Brazilian cities on Friday to denounce high unemployment, the loss of workers’ rights, and the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who remains a candidate in the Oct. 7 presidential election.
The national mobilization was organized to denounce the policies of rightist President Michel Temer, the leader of the CUT labor federation, Sergio Nobre, told EFE in Sao Paulo.
“Enough with the dismantling of social policies! This is not the Brazil we want. We are tired of so much negligence,” he said.
In Sao Paulo, organizers estimated that 5,000 people attended the protest, who gathered in the heart of the financial district outside the offices of the Sao Paulo state business federation.
The protesters carried flags, balloons and giant puppets while chanting slogans to demand the repeal of Temer’s anti-union overhaul of labor law, as well as the release of Lula, who has been in jail since April on a corruption conviction.
Brazil’s unemployment rate in June was 12.4 percent, representing 13 million people.
“There are 13 million unemployed people, and some 15 million became part-time workers after the labor reform. Those people earn half of what they used to,” Nobre said.
Protesters also demanded an end to the wave of privatizations that Temer’s administration has initiated.
Meanwhile, the MST Landless Workers’ Movement began Friday a national march in support of Lula that will start out from several cities and arrive in Brasilia on Aug. 15, which is the deadline for parties to register their presidential candidates.
Lula’s center-left Workers Party nominated him for the presidency despite the likelihood that the courts will stop his name from appearing on the ballot.
The 72-year-old former head of state remains Brazil’s most popular politician and leads in the polls ahead of the presidential contest.