CNTE Executive Board – Conferência Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação

The moment the country and the world are going through demands a cry of courage from all of us! Faced with the pandemic of the new coronavirus (COVID-19), the planet and its inhabitants can no longer be the same! Hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially the huge contingent of workers and informal workers, helpless from any and all social and economic protection, suffer and will suffer more and more, each week, the consequences of a viral epidemic that does not choose its victims by color, social origin, income status, religious option or nationality.

The gravity of the current moment calls for solidarity from all. For this Manifesto, Brazilian educators come to the public to defend human life, imbued with the deepest feeling of altruism. We make our voice the thunderous noise of the big forgotten, helpless and invisible crowds.

The current scenario in the world and in Brazil makes it imperative to recognize that the solution for the moment we are going through is to strengthen the State and public policies. There is no prospect of the future without collective and solidary actions! The rules of the market cannot protect the suffering of the great majority of the national and world population. More than ever, public health services must be governed by a logic of universal and free care. The way out of the current crisis requires more state to finance public policies for the population, and less market!

For this reason, a strong and active State cannot do without public servants in adequate quantity and proven quality. The neoliberal policy of reducing the State and the contingent of public servants is proving, every day, an absolute failure. It is the civil servants, committed to public service, especially of the poorest, who can guarantee life in this moment of pain and suffering.

Faced with the current crisis, the Brazilian government, with contradictory actions, shuns the true dimension of the problem and, in a criminal way, acts as an enemy of the people. At a time when we need unity and leadership to address this immense challenge that lies ahead of us, President Jair Bolsonaro fights with governors, vociferates against the press and acts repeatedly against a true head of state of the nation, contradicting research and successful models of coping with the coronavirus. His belief and political actions in favor of the markets and against public policies opened up the execrable deliberate defense against life (and for death).

Acting systematically against the policy of social isolation, recommended worldwide by the health and scientific authorities, President Bolsonaro does the disservice of calling the population to the streets and, if that were not enough, he tries to promote with the public money an institutional campaign called “Brazil cannot stop”. It proposes the end of the policy of social isolation in the name of a supposed resumption of economic activity, as if the economy did not depend on people’s lives for itself to survive.

The epidemic that is spreading across the country, and which tends to worsen in the coming weeks, especially if the policy of social isolation is abandoned by the governments of the three spheres, requires actions from the State to support the lives of people to get through these hard times. And there is an urgent need for the Government to change its path of uncompromising defense of economic ultraliberalism, which preaches the minimum state above everything and everyone, to adopt measures strikingly similar to those of capitalist countries of the so-called First World, which protect the population and the worker class of the viral pandemic.

From the beginning, Brazil’s government has acted in opposition to the rest of the world in the fight against coronavirus. In addition to discouraging social isolation, putting pressure on workers and schools to resume their activities, the government has already allowed the cut of salaries of employees without any counterpart to these workers; and the dismissal of employees contaminated by COVID19 without the payment of labor indemnities.

Now it threatens to confiscate part of the salaries of civil servants, among other measures that denounce the inhumanity of this Government and its unpreparedness to coordinate the recovery of the economy after the health crisis is overcome. How to resume economic activity with thousands of lives taken and the decaying income of deteriorating families? The interests of employers, defended by the Bolsonaro government, are immediate, inconsequential and unproductive, both in terms of facing the health crisis, and to leverage the resumption of economic development.

Instead of cutting off working class rights and subjecting the population to rampant contamination by the coronavirus, the Government, in partnership with the National Congress, should revoke Amendment 95 (which prevents social investments) and concentrate efforts to collect taxes among the wealthy of our society. Brazil, which has one of the highest inequality rates on the planet, where the richest 1% own more than half of the national income, has more than two hundred billionaires who pay virtually no taxes. Entities of auditors of the Federal Revenue estimate that it is possible to raise R$ 272 billion only with taxes on the fortunes of the wealthiest Brazilians.

The taxation of large fortunes, profits and dividends of wealthy individuals and the increase in the rates of patrimonial taxes and on the highest incomes, are urgent and highly effective measures to combat inequalities and to provide welfare to the entire population, in particular in moments of crisis like the one we are experiencing.

The initiative of the National Congress, which approved a project that institutes an emergency payment for three months to low-income people in the amount of R$ 600, 00 (which may reach R$ 1,200.00 for mothers raising their children alone), deserves to be recognized, but requires immediate implementation. Although insufficient, the project demonstrates, at least, a concern that is not found in the current occupiers of the federal executive power. Let us remember that the Government’s “help” proposal was a measly R$ 200.00 per month.

On the other hand, most of the state and municipal governments, regardless of their political or party orientations, also act prominently in the face of the crisis, even though they face inconsequential attacks from the federal government.

Faced with this scenario, public school education workers manifest themselves in the following terms to Brazilian society, especially to the entire school community:

* We demand economic and public health measures different from those advocated by President Bolsonaro, many of which contradict the Ministry of Health itself and the World Health Organization, since they lack theoretical and empirical bases. The president has been guided, exclusively, by the immediate interests of businessmen who are not committed to the life of the population and to the rights of workers;

* Maintenance of wages (without cuts), employment, income and employment contracts, in the public and private sectors, adopting dignified subsistence policies for Brazilian families, especially those from segments historically marginalized by public policies;

* Adoption of economic mechanisms that guarantee the compensation of losses imposed on workers (and not only on entrepreneurs), help to individual microentrepreneurs and the institution of an universal (dignified) minimum income to the unemployed, informal workers and poorest people who have been excluded since 2016 from governmental support programs;

* Taxation of large fortunes in Brazil to finance policies to combat the pandemic and to leverage the future process of social and economic development, in a sustainable manner and with respect for the environment.

* Intransigent defense of the Unified Health System (SUS) and all of its professionals, and the government should expand the offer of rapid tests for the coronavirus and the number of beds for intensive care;

* Maintenance of the complete closure of Brazilian schools, in order to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, and public schools can serve as spaces to attend to other emergency measures under the responsibility of public health and social assistance agencies;

* In defense of people’s lives, in their entirety, guaranteeing them adequate food security, especially to poor students who depend on the food they receive at the public schools. To this end, governments should prioritize the purchase of products from family farming, as a way to help this important social area.

We need to start thinking about the future! Society demands more state and more public policies! More government solidarity and less austerity with the people! More quality public health and education, housing, sanitation, security, in short, respect especially for the poorest and most vulnerable!

By going against these universal values, the Bolsonaro government is on a collision course with most of the Brazilian and planetary population, which is currently fighting for the right to live! One more reason, among many, for the national institutions (Legislative and Judiciary) to review the complacent posture with which they treat this tyrant ruler, disrespectful towards his people and who insists on transgressing public order and compromising human lives in defense of his inconsequential personal project.