On May 29, the 45th annual convention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists voted unanimously to support democracy and denounce what activists around the world are calling a legislative coup in Brazil. President Dilma Rouseff, re-elected by 54 million Brazilians in 2014, was leading the fourth consecutive Workers’ Party government, whose policies had lifted more than 40 million people out of poverty in the majority black nation, the largest black country outside of Africa.
The resolution condemned Interim President Michel Temer, (himself under investigation in the same fiscal scandal), and his new cabinet, which is overwhelmingly rich, white and male, for the swift elimination of the Ministries of Women, Racial Equality and Human Rights, and the labor reform proposals put forward within days of assuming power: "It’s economic program includes ‘diminishing’ labor law by allowing employers to contract out any job, cutting benefits and raising the retirement age…and stripping Afro-Brazilian communities (quilombos) of traditional land rights."
Rosana Sousa Fernandes and Maria Julia Reis Nogueira, black union leaders from Brazil’s Unified Workers' Central confederation, who lead the National Secretariat to Combat Racism spoke out to the delegates to explain the impacts of such right-wing, regressive policies on black workers. Sousa Fernandes said she feels "very happy to count on black workers in the United States to understand and support the struggle for democracy in Brazil."
The CBTU joins the chorus of the AFL-CIO, countless labor and human rights organizations across the globe, and eight Latin American countries as it calls on President Barack Obama to "publicly condemn the coup and support the government democratically elected by the Brazilian people."