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Three members of the Small Farmers Movement (MPA) – Vía Campesina Brazil have been on hunger strike for 48 hours at the headquarters of the federal Congress of Brasilia, against the impending passing of the Social Security Reform by the coup government led by Michel Temer.
The farmers are Frei Sergio Görgen, Josi Costa and Leila Denise, on behalf of the over 300,000 peasants gathered in the MPA.
Frei Sergio stated with reference to the measure: “Some of us will go hungry for a few days to warn and avoid a reform that will cause many people to go hungry for the rest of their lives”.
Real World Radio interviewed the team that is supporting the farmers on strike. They resolved to maintain the protest measure and to protect those who are carrying it out by taking them from the most circulated places in the federal Congress in Brasilia. The support team added that other people from the MPA and other organizations of La Vía Campesina Brazil will join the hunger strike over the weekend.
The Social Security Reform in Brazil aims to extend the retirement age, and in the case of rural family farmers, to change the way their social security is paid, from a percentage of their sales, to a fixed rate established by the government.
Brazilian unions have denounced the effects of this reform for the population. For instance, they have warned that in addition to equating the retirement ages for men and women, special pensions for basic education teachers would be eliminated.
It is estimated that with a minimum wage, this reform would require workers to contribute at least for 49 years in order to qualify for retirement.
The people are carrying out this hunger strike against what they consider a “social tragedy” in case it is approved. The strike is being conducted at the headquarters of the Workers Party (PT) of Brazil.
The member of the National Coordination of the MPA, Bruno Pilón, in an interview with Real World Radio, talked about the circumstances that led to this hunger strike. In particular, he highlighted the impact of the freezing of social spending for the next twenty years, as well as the labor reform as a whole.
About the hunger strike at the federal Congress, Pilón linked it to the “Christmas without poison” campaign, through which the MPA is raising awareness on the need to consume agroecological food produced by peasant families. This campaign was organized in the framework of La Vía Campesina´s Global Campaign against Agrotoxics
Pilón highlighted that the social security system has been a historical victory in Brazil, not only with reference to retirement, but also with regards to women rights, occupational illnesses and maternity cover.
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