good and new times

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By JORGE LUIZ SOUTO MAIOR*

“It is a great joy to have the possibility, 20 years later, to write another 'letter' to, once again, President Lula”

On three previous occasions, in the 2002, 2003 e 2005, I published public “letters” addressed to the then President Lula. The messages were certainly not received by the recipient and, even less, their contents were considered.

In any case, it is a great joy to have the possibility, 20 years later, to write another “letter” to, once again, President Lula, even if it is doomed to the same fate as the previous ones. The joy is related to the fact that the electoral seal of Lula's personal, legal and political turnaround is a symbol that democratic institutions and popular forces have managed to stay alive despite all the attempts to corrode they have suffered in recent years.

It must be recognized that this moment would not have been reached without the perseverance and charisma of this great character in Brazilian history, Mr. Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

But, as we know, the moments of euphoria, which need to be celebrated a lot, are ephemeral and very quickly the challenges are imposed. The point is that, as we are very close to the bottom of the well, in all aspects (institutional, social, economic, political and, above all, human), the countless tasks gain the trauma of urgency, in addition to being extremely difficult to carry out. , even more so if one considers the persistent Brazilian social structure marked by slavery, racism, patriarchy, intolerance, social injustice, “elitism” and colonialism with its consequent state of submission and subservience. That is why, this time, it is necessary that the present letter be extended to all and all other members of the government.

The fact is that, viewing the historical context in which the new government is installed, an enormous trap orbits in the air: the temptation to overvalue past experiences and cling to them, even as a way of establishing a counterpoint to government policies that ends.

Now, the policy practiced by the last two governments, since 2016, has exacerbated all the social and human ills that mark Brazilian history and, from this point of view, everything that existed before appears to us as an infinitely better reality.

Brazil, in effect, for two years, was bombarded by the authoritarianism of capital, with institutional and media support, leaving behind the tragic legacies of the “expense cap” and “labour reform”, in addition to the impetus for other “unpopular” reforms, such as the social security and administrative ones, of what remained an increase in precariousness, suffering and impoverishment of the working class, leading the country, over the years, to the map of hunger; and, in the following four years, with an unprecedented presidential incentive, it was dominated by barbarism, denialism, stupidity and hatred, in addition to the deepening of neoliberal economic policies, notably in the field of agribusiness, leaving the legacy of a complete disregard for the environment. The fact is that this anomie, coinciding with the pandemic, ended up meaning the sacrifice, which can be called criminal, of thousands of lives in the country.

These findings would suffice to assert, with complete certainty, that we were much better off before the 2016 coup took place.

It is still necessary to remember that the coup was not a work of chance, but an act organized by economic and political forces that are still part of the national ruling class, in all spheres of social life and these forces, certainly, were very uncomfortable with the social improvements implemented by PT governments from 2003 onwards.

Even with all this, it is not accurate to say that, before the coup, we were in an advanced stage of promoting social justice, but that, in a structurally slave-owning and colonized country, a little distribution of wealth proves to be unbearable for exploiters, rentiers and conservatives.

In addition, government stability, for the implementation of an assistance policy, however important it may have been, especially in the area of ​​housing and food security, which spilled over significantly into the area of ​​education, was sustained in a kind of tacit adjustment in around non-intervention in the legal mechanisms to increase labor exploitation introduced by the neoliberal governments of the 90s, which even lowered the level of labor achievements reached in the Federal Constitution of 1988.

The ruling business class managed to empty the legal and labor content of the Constitution and this situation remained unchanged from 2003 to 2016, except for the expansion of rights directed to domestic workers, in 2013, by Constitutional Amendment 72, which, however, was also minimized, in 2015, by Complementary Law 150.

Even so, in this same period, there was an advance in labor rights, mainly due to labor doctrine and jurisprudence. There was also a considerable increase in the effectiveness of rights, due to the intense and committed work of the Public Ministry of Labor and labor inspectors.

Meanwhile, the government of Dilma Rousseff, unable to carry out the constitutional promises at the labor level, was losing identity with the working class, seen in terms of its unorganized conformations, that is, on the “factory floor”, as is customary. to say, and this distance, which left the government without popular support, provided the political opportunity for the economic sector to promote the parliamentary political coup, in order, with the establishment of a situation of authentic democratic rupture, to reach the dreamed objective of increasing even more more their profit rates through the unlimited exploitation of labor, as well as dismantling the small legal achievements that were being promoted in the judicial sphere.

It can even be said, in a simplified way, that the labor “reform” was the cause and effect of the 2016 coup and that this was only enshrined through the legal violence imposed on the then candidate Lula.

This is why an effective reconstruction movement in the country must begin by deconstructing the effects that resulted from the political coup that deposed President Dilma Rousseff and the political condemnation that was imposed on Lula.

But it is also necessary not to fall into the trap of boasting and going back to the previous period, not least because it was precisely the previous arrangements that allowed us to get where we are.

This concern, however, practically disappeared when listening to the content of President Lula's speeches, in the National Congress and in the parlor in front of the Planalto Palace, as it was possible to verify that the historical lessons were completely apprehended by the President. His speeches, in addition to being emotional and moving, were solid, consistent and committed (without reticence) to social and human causes, including being explicit about racial, gender and diversity-related issues.

Lula, one might say, washed the souls of everyone who suffered intensely from the abuses that have taken place since 2016. Not only that. Lula brought people, solidarity, tolerance, love and the effectiveness of social and human rights back to the center of the concerns of the State, even going so far as to advocate, at the labor level, the need to promote a “new legislation”, which constitutes an enormous accuracy of his speeches.

What was seen on the afternoon of the first day of 2023 was a renewed, inspired, emotional, committed Lula who certainly proved to be very well supported by an extremely competent team committed to the essential causes for Brazil and for the vast majority of the Brazilian people – repeatedly mentioned by the President.

But what results from the President's speech, in addition to enormous satisfaction and deep emotion, is a great responsibility, after all, Lula and his government will not be able to promote everything they intend to do without the necessary popular and institutional support.

When I started to write this text, on Sunday morning, I sought, pretentiously, to bring some demand or observation to the new President. In the end, after listening to his speeches, the purpose of this letter was completely transformed and became that of acknowledging the receipt of messages sent by the President, certainly supported by members of his government.

In line with what Lula advocated, it is essential to establish a “mutirão against inequality” and that “the joy of today is the raw material of the fights in the morning”, because, certainly, there were those who benefited in the period of dismantling and these “power holders” will not give up their privileges very easily.

In the letter sent in 2002, I spoke of the need for all Brazilian citizens to assume the responsibility of being the co-authors of the “spectacle of building change in this country”. Twenty years later, in 2023, as highlighted by President Lula, we are back to the same challenges. In these conditions, I reiterate that I will be in the same trench, giving effect to social rights and supporting all forces that move in this direction.

From what is extracted from the opening lines, yes, we will live good and new times! Thank you very much, Lula government, for renewing our hope and revitalizing our strength and our energy!

*Jorge Luiz Souto Maior is a professor of labor law at the USP Law School and president of the American Association of Jurists – AAJ-Rama Brasil. Author, among other books, of Moral damage in employment relationships (Studio editors).

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