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13 April 2018 | Testimonies | Resisting neoliberalism | Mobilizations in support to Lula in Porto Alegre
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“We want to formally raise that negotiations (between the European Union and Mercosur around a Free Trade Agreement) be suspended so as to not legitimize the current government of Brazil, a country that is experiencing a state of exception and a new stage of the coup d´Etat perpetrated in 2016”. With these words, Fernando Gambera, of the Central Union Coordination of MERCOSUR reinforced before the European Economic and Social Committee, in Brussels, that the union movement rejects said free-trade agreement.
In this way, hours after the incarceration of former president Lula Da Silva, the union movement of the South American bloc referred to said imprisonment as an institutional breakdown which affects the entire region, and therefore, they appealed to the democratic clauses that Brazil is failing to comply when discussing trade.
Secrecy, flexibilization of strategic services and threats against the sovereignty of MERCOSUR countries were some of the arguments raised by the member of PIT-CNT Uruguay at the public hearing of the European Economic and Social Committee.
“The union movement believes that the existence of agreements that ensure social development is important. But this is not the case of the FTA between the European Union and MERCOSUR”, said Gambera, member of the Uruguayan bank union.
“Workers and social activists know, based on empirical bases, that in the current conditions it is very unlikely that the FTA will benefit our national industries, provide inclusive development or sovereignty for our countries”, said the leader.
Among his arguments, he highlighted the “lack of participation” of the organized civil society, the presence of “flexible rules for designation of origin” in the agreement and especially “the liberalization of strategic services that are highly sensitive for our region”.
Gambera added as arguments the crisis in Brazil, together with the incarceration, without evidence, of former president Lula Da Silva. According to him, this is enough to suspend negotiations immediately, at the risk of legitimizing an illegitimate government (Michel Temer´s) which has just five per cent of popular support.
“A new stage of the coup d´Etat has begun where the Brazilian people is not allowed to decide if someone can be presidential candidate or not. This is an insurmountable asymmetry”, said Gambera, who demanded the suspension of negotiations.
In the opinion of the central unions of the bloc made up by Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina (of which Venezuela has been suspended) in the case of the trial against Lula “the burden of the proof has been shifted”.
Without due process guarantees, he concluded, it is not possible to speak of a free trade agreement without it representing a risk for workers.
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