September 3, 2016 - No. 34

Labour Day 2016

Major Concerns Facing the
Working Class Movement

  For Labour Day 2016 events and activities around the country
visit the website of the Canadian Labour Congress

Read Workers' Forum on Labour Day for the statement of CPC(M-L) and photo review

Major Concerns Facing the Working Class Movement
Control Over Our Lives and Work Is a Major Issue
- Rolf Gerstenberger -
Trudeau Government's Negation of Workers' Rights
- Pierre Chénier -

Canada Post and CUPW Reach Tentative Agreement
Postal Workers Will Continue to Oppose Threats Against Them
and the Public Post Office

- Louis Lang -

Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Liberals' Proposed "Middle Ground" Steps Up Low-Wage Agenda
- Peggy Askin -
Alberta Federation of Labour President Speaks Out
after Meeting with Federal Labour Minister

U.S.-Backed Destabilization Attempts in Latin America
Bolivarian Forces Take Decisive Measures to
Prevent New Coup in Venezuela

Bolivian Government Moves to Assert Sovereign Control Over Resources and Stop Destabilization
Violence in the Face of Sovereign Changes to
Mining Policy in Bolivia

- Camila Vollenweider, Centro Estratégico Latinoamericano de Geopolítica (CELAG) -
Coup President Installed by Senate in Brazil
Speech of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the Federal Senate

Major Concerns Facing the Working Class Movement

Control Over Our Lives and Work Is a Major Issue

Seminar on the National and International Situation, Ottawa, August 14, 2016.

TML Weekly is publishing the presentation by Rolf Gerstenberger delivered at the Seminar on the National and International Situation organized by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) at the University of Ottawa on August 14, 2016. Rolf is the President of the Marxist-Leninist Party of Canada, the name under which CPC(M-L) is registered with Elections Canada. For 12 years he was also President of United Steelworkers Local 1005 in Hamilton and spent 42 years in total as a steelworker at Hamilton Works.


At this time the Party has asked me to take up a very important issue, speaking to workers across the country about the need for the workers to put themselves at the head of a political movement of the people by making sure the resistance movement to the anti-social offensive is not smashed. In recent months we have had discussions such as this in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver along with meetings in the regions and now we are in Ottawa.

This has become even more urgent because of the way the Trudeau government is moving ahead with its electoral reform program to eliminate any space for Canadians outside the narrow confines of discussing the "choices" predetermined by the Prime Minister's Office and cartel party system. They simply say we should favour one of three options as to how ballots are counted and through divination they will say which one people prefer and that is called reform. We are calling on Canadians to reject this assault on their consciousness and to do so by joining the battle for democratic renewal, for a modern constitution, for arrangements which permit the workers, the actual producers to exercise control over their lives, society and economy.

For every single day of the last 150 years, the ruling elite have made the biggest effort not to involve workers and others in politics but to discourage them and attack them if they dare organize to express their views as individuals or in their collectives. Whether it is in solving the economic problems in their enterprises and communities or taking part in the political process the workers are rebuffed and ridiculed and denied any voice. The working class is referred to as a special interest group.

It is no wonder that every attempt is made to keep the workers out of politics because this is directed towards blocking them from realizing their central role as the most numerous, organized and advanced social class in history. This is why we say the watchword of the Trudeau government is anti-politics; all its efforts are directed towards keeping the people out of politics and from having control over their lives and blocking any resistance. This is particularly the case with its efforts to portray Canadians as being consulted and involved in the decisions made outside their control.

The events in Canada in the twenty-first century point to a dominant issue: the Canadian working class does not have control over the issues that affect the lives of workers. No matter what the talk may be of how Canada is democratic, when things happen that directly affect the lives of individuals and their collectives, the people affected feel powerless to control the events. When workplaces close; when collectives of workers are downsized; when work is outsourced; when pensions, benefits and wages are reduced or eliminated altogether; when employment and post-secondary educational opportunities are blocked; when this or that disaster strikes either individuals or collectives, how can we speak of democracy for the people if the people affected have no control or right to change the situation in any meaningful way.

When the people have no control over the economy, over their work and other big issues in their lives other than to be told to suck it up, fend for yourself and as an individual make the best of a bad situation, then all this indicates in a forceful manner the time is now for democratic renewal, the time to bring politics and economics into the twenty-first century where working people have control over their lives and work and are not dictated to and controlled by a small clique of ruling imperialist elite who act in ways to meet their narrow private interests and not in the broad public interest for the greater good of the people.

The big issues are easy to identify and most relate to economic security:

- security of employment;
- security of well-being when unemployed or unable to work for whatever reason;
- security in retirement;
- security of having quality food, public health care, education and all the other social programs and public services necessary in a modern collective society;
- security of knowing that through work and contributing to one's personal well-being through work in the socialized economy one is also contributing to society and the security of all including oneself under all circumstances. Without economic security of the person and no capacity to affect the situation in a meaningful way, then all talk of democracy and rights is empty chatter.

Then there is security which comes from having peace of mind that we are not headed for an inter-imperialist war between the great powers in which Canada has hitched its wagon to the U.S. striving for world domination.

Canadians live in cities of considerable size or in regions where natural resources are exploited. The economy is organized as one huge collective with interrelated parts. How then can we look at the individual workplaces as isolated from or unrelated to other workplaces and the large collective of workplaces? The ruling elite in control want the working class to think and view the individual workplaces as being in competition with each other in some sort of wild desperate fight for survival of the fittest. But this is not the Wild West; this is not the jungle. The economy is a collective organism and each part of the organism plays a role in strengthening the whole; and in that way, the parts of the organism are strengthened making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.

At least that is how a modern socialized economy should work. But it does not, because of the interference and obstruction of the most powerful companies fighting to build their private empires in competition with other empires at the expense of the whole. The striving for empire weakens the whole and eventually weakens most of the various parts as they fight with one another instead of cooperating and sorting out how best to work together for the greater good and success of the whole. The result is individual tragedies of certain parts and recurring general economic crises and war, where the people pay the price for the anarchy and violence.

The working class is the only social force capable of strengthening the various parts of the economy and their relations with each other and with the whole for the greater good. In this way, the working class can then mobilize the collective strength of the modern socialized economy to ensure the security, rights and well-being of all. The issue of gaining control over the issues affecting our lives is one of organizing to deprive those social forces of the power to deprive the people of their right to control their lives and work. The working class is the social force that can bring into being the forms and relations necessary for individuals and their collectives to gain control through the power to deprive the ruling imperialist elite of their power to deprive.

This is what we have been dealing with at U.S. Steel Canada, the former Stelco, where steelworkers are fighting for control over their lives and work and to contribute to the same for everyone.

Current and retired steelworkers in Hamilton and Sault Ste. Marie are engaged in battles to defend their lives and work. Global monopolies of the financial oligarchy have launched waves of attacks on their workplaces and security in collusion with the Ontario and federal governments.

The collectives of workers through their steelworker locals and retiree associations are fighting to gain some control over the situation and deprive the ruling elite of its power to deprive them of their rights. Currently, the ruling elite are using the Ontario Superior Court through the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) to attack the steelworkers and pensioners at the steel facilities in Hamilton, Nanticoke and Sault Ste. Marie. We recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of our union just prior to the great strike of 1946.

The celebration was well attended. One of the guests from the head office asked out loud how we managed to get so many workers to attend our functions. We keep the link with the rank and file workers, pensioners and their families because they are an integral part of our decision-making. A nineteen-year-old girl joined us at the celebration. She said both her father and grandfather worked at Stelco and fought to establish the union, pensions and benefits. She wished us well in our struggle and said she would keep herself informed. She exemplifies the experience we have with the youth. They come to us and say, this is what we are doing and we need your support. We can do that. Our experience shows that the youth want good industrial jobs and a stable life. Our aims and culture attract them because we are serious about fighting for what they need in life.

For the event, with the help of Voice of Steel Publications, we published a special issue of Information Update, which was well received. People took it home as a memento and to show others of our struggle. We have called on our members and supporters to go out regularly to distribute our paper and to talk with people in the city which we have done without let up now for fifteen years. The paper enables people to see through the spin that the elite push by showing that the workers in opposition have convincing arguments for their just cause. We also have an uncanny way of predicting what is coming down because of an ability to analyze we are acquiring from the Marxist-Leninist Party. We do not limit ourselves by repeating dogma we pick up from the financiers and their think-tanks. On the contrary, our starting point is to have our own independent politics based on working out how matters present themselves and where we stand on the issues. We know from experience that if we are to agree to something, then our no must mean something. Unless No Means No, what value does Yes have? It has no value.

Globalization has caused a lot of suffering for the workers and has driven down their standard of living and trampled on their rights and we are very aware that if it has done this to unionized workers, the plight of the non-union workers is even worse. When we say that Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All we are convinced that this is the case. The people have had enough. The ruling elite have pushed too far in their methods to make fortunes off the backs of workers and to save themselves from crises of their own making. If we define the success we ourselves can achieve and organize to achieve it, we can make headway.

Before USS went into CCAA, their executive manager asked us to agree to concessions voluntarily such as eliminating the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEBs) for retirees, having a two-tier pension system along with lower pension benefits etc. We of course refused; we as steelworkers are not interested in going backwards; we did not organize Local 1005 in the first place to make life and work worse for old and young steelworkers.

Some time before CCAA, the company lawyer told our union team that if we did not agree to the demanded concessions, the company would gain even more under CCAA. U.S. Steel then set about fabricating a problem so that a CCAA judge would approve its bankruptcy protection application and with that agreement in hand, the court began to hammer away at us taking away our OPEBs in October 2015.

The Province stepped in and instead of making the company live up to its obligations, it provided inadequate benefits to the retirees through a Transition Fund. This has allowed the company to abdicate its responsibilities and instead participate in depriving the pensioners of the post-employment benefits they earned while working, and which are theirs by right.

Steelworkers exchange their capacity to work during their working lives not just for wages but also for pension and benefit guarantees during their entire lifetime. U.S. Steel refuses to live up to the exchange, which brings into question the entire system of workers exchanging their capacity to work for security, importantly retirement security after they are no longer capable of working. If companies are not going to live up to their side of the exchange then obviously a different relationship is necessary. We cannot sit idly by without any control over the relationship and watch as the entire system fails us and falls into disrepute. We have to do something to defend ourselves and our rights.

This fight for our rights and OPEBs is being played out in public. The company is using the provincial transition fund to have people go around saying how spoiled steelworkers are because they want special treatment because most other workers do not receive post-employment benefits, so why should public funds go towards steelworkers to pay their benefits?

A local Hamilton newspaper recently ran a letter to the editor that criticized the steelworkers for demanding the reinstatement of their OPEBs. This caused a lot of discussion among our members and retirees mostly denouncing the government and company for deliberately causing this confusion. Many said the benefits were promised to us in payment for our work-time. Not to give us the benefits is paramount to theft or at least fraud or breach of trust. We did our part by working and now the company and government refuse to live up to their part of the exchange. It's like you receive a good from someone using a promissory note to pay for it later. You use up the good and then refuse to pay. Is that not theft or fraud or breach of trust? How is our situation any different except in the sense our retirees desperately need the payment for their well-being, and the company made a lot of value out of our work way beyond whatever they paid or promised us, and could still make value out of active steelworkers if they were interested in operating the mills properly and sorting out the problems in the Canadian steel sector.

Other members said, if we give up our benefits without a fight just because most Canadian workers do not have post-employment benefits then the working class would never move forward as a collective. We want everyone's security guaranteed in retirement not just ours. We should be working together to pull everyone up not bringing certain sections of working people down. When one section of the working class is attacked and weakened through concessions, it drags down the entire working class. We are in this battle together. Let's stand together and fight for our rights, fight for the rights of all. When one section of workers fights, it raises the issue in the public domain and opens a path forward for all. That is how we won public health care for all by fighting for it everywhere especially at our workplaces. The original fight and strike of Local 1005 in 1946 made a contribution to winning public health care for all among other things. Just imagine if we had caved into the snivelling remarks of some that those steelworkers just want better wages and working conditions for themselves while most Canadian workers back home from the war do not have jobs, let alone any protection or guarantees.

These snivelling remarks also divert attention from the real issue that the government has to cover our benefits because we are holding them to account. The federal and provincial governments open Canada for business as they call it, promising prosperity, giving them everything including the kitchen sink so they should pay for the consequences of what they have done to Canada. Why should we feel guilty when they are forced to do their duty?

Gary Howe, the current President of Local 1005 informed members that the Local is investigating our retiree membership and finding real hardship cases and possibly deaths caused by this denial of benefits. Two hundred and sixty member retirees now live out of province and are not eligible for anything from the Ontario provincial transition fund, which is only open to those living in Ontario. Any of them or their spouses could die for lack of medication and other support just as many senior Canadians are in that difficult situation.

Many steelworkers denounce the Province for not holding U.S. Steel and the CCAA judge to account. U.S. Steel or whoever it says is its successor should be made to honour its obligations. By the government picking up some of the tab through the transition fund, USS is being let off the hook. Through capitulating to U.S. Steel, the government is inciting these letters to the editor and splitting the working class when it should be united in defending the rights of all. By stepping in with their publicly-funded Transition Fund without going after U.S. Steel and forcing it to live up to its social obligations, the Province is diluting our argument. It should not be the government paying. They should demand the company turn the OPEBs back on, period. We have every right to a claim on the steel value currently produced. That is the arrangement we and the company agreed to, which should be upheld not trampled in the mud. Everyone should understand the hell workers across the country go through with the attacks the monopolies are launching against them along with the government in the name of fairy tales about the need for flexibility of labour and other schemes to defraud the workers. These companies and the governments in their service have to be held responsible for breaking their agreements with workers and Canadians.

One last point. This globalization should lead to raising the standards all over the world. Workers point out that you cannot even buy steel nails anymore that are made at Stelco. They are all imported. The high quality production of the past has mostly been taken away and this means less and less value to go around. This is a serious problem for an economy. No excuse exists for Canada not to produce its own steel, other than pandering to the narrow private interests of certain monopolies such as U.S. Steel that say they can make more money by producing steel outside Canada and shipping it here, or steel consuming companies that want to profit from cheap imported steel. As an example of how ugly this has become, we have this ridiculous situation in Pittsburgh, which would be a big joke if it were not used to undermine steelworkers' struggle for their rights.

U.S. Steel owns a joint venture steel mill in Pittsburgh with POSCO, a steel monopoly controlled in South Korea. The recent U.S. steel tariffs against Korean imported steel make it impossible to bring in the type of steel that the Pittsburgh mill usually finishes. The South Korean directors of the joint venture are screaming that the tariffs will kill the mill, while the USS directors are screaming that the tariffs are necessary to save the mill and they are having this huge public ugly fight. In the end it will sort out no problem facing the steel sector because each group is only interested in its narrow private interests at the expense of the other and the whole. This is just one more example of how the global monopolies control the economies almost everywhere in their private interests while Canadian steelworkers, U.S. steelworkers and others around the world have no power of control over their lives and work and are supposed to just wait until the hammer falls one way or the other. Either way it means workers pay the price and no internal self-reliant stable economy is ever built, just this global mess of competing monopolies turning the world into a jungle of warring factions.

This must change radically for Canada and the U.S. to move into the twenty-first century and have a prosperous and secure future and for the working people to have control over their lives and work.

When the Liberal government issued its guidelines on July 6 for how Canadians should discuss reform to the electoral system it began by saturating people with claims such as "It's your democracy and your government" and dogmas such as "Canada has a strong and deeply rooted democracy" and "Federal electoral reform is part of the Government's stronger democracy agenda."

This is a time when Canadians need to exercise control over the decisions which affect their lives. This includes the direction of the economy and matters related to wages, benefits, pensions and working conditions. It also concerns all matters related to the key problems of war and peace. The Trudeau Liberals are taking the country from an unacceptable situation which reduces the citizenry to voting once every four years, to one in which they exercise no control whatsoever over the decisions imposed on them by the elites in power. The government is so pathetic that it declares, "The electoral system is more than vote casting and counting -- it is a way for Canadians to influence their future, give their consent to be governed, and hold their representatives accountable."

This is precisely what the current political process does not permit Canadians to do and what the methods the Liberals are introducing to consult Canadians also will not permit them to do. The time for Canadians to rely on their own discussions and efforts to establish the kind of democratic renewal Canada requires is now.

The government's program on electoral reform aims to prevent discussion from taking place. All the so-called major political parties currently represented in the Parliament reduce the role of human beings to that of on-line shoppers who are to select what they want from a list of predetermined choices that do not serve them. Far from permitting this process to marginalize and railroad them into irrelevancy, the people of this country can make a real difference by working out their own opinions on these matters amongst their peers in the workplaces, educational institutions, neighbourhoods and where seniors congregate.

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Trudeau Government's Negation of Workers' Rights

The following was presented at the August 14 Seminar on the National and International Situation held by the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) in Ottawa. Pierre Chénier is the Secretary of the Party's Workers' Centre. The Workers' Centre can be reached at


It is important to address the question of the definition of workers' rights that the Trudeau government professes in order to disinform the workers' movement. It is known that the Harper government had a confrontational approach with the labour movement and unions; that he declared the struggles of workers and unions to be enemies of the national interest that he alone represented, in the service of the most powerful global monopolies in the global imperialist system of States led by the United States.

The Trudeau government takes care to establish that it does not have a confrontational approach with workers and unions but that it wants to be their partner and include them in the pursuit of the most powerful monopolies to be competitive on world markets. Its so-called non-confrontational approach with workers and unions is supposed to be based on its propensity for dialogue, social consensus and inclusion, but not on the rights that objectively belong to workers as the producers of social wealth. In fact, "inclusion," "dialogue" and consensus are an integral part of the parameters of the neo-liberal, anti-social offensive, which are, in the language of the Trudeau government, "maximum flexibility," "labour mobility," subordination to "the labour market(s)," etc.

We just had an example with the presentation of the mandate of the Working Group and the Special Committee to study the postal service and to make recommendations to the government. While in the last federal election, Trudeau committed to "preserving home mail delivery" and promised at a press conference with the mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, to "restore home mail delivery," this commitment is now considered one of "all options on the table," to be measured by the cost this entails for the service. In other words, maintaining home mail delivery will be the opportunity to demand concessions from the workers or to further dismantle the services under the guise of not imposing rigid rules on Canada Post.

Let's have a look at some examples of how the concepts of "maximum flexibility," "mobility of labour" and subordination to the labour market operate as they are presented by the Trudeau government.

The Example of Employment-Insurance

In his Mandate Letter to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, Trudeau writes, on the issue of Employment Insurance:

"In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top Priorities:

"Improve our Employment Insurance (EI) system so that it is better aligned with the realities of today's labour market and serves workers and employers."

Trudeau does not explain what he means by "that it is better aligned with the realities of today's labour market." However, the C.D. Howe Institute is more specific about it. Justin Trudeau's Minister of Finance, Bill Morneau, was the president of the C.D. Howe Institute from 2010 to 2014.

In 2011, two researchers for the C.D. Howe Institute, Colin Busby and David Gray, issued a document called Employment Insurance Quilt: The Case for Restoring Equity .

Note that equity or the reduction of inequalities is a central theme of the Trudeau government.

Here are some of the things we can read in this document:

"Under the current Employment Insurance (EI) system, long-lasting EI benefits are more easily accessed in regions with high unemployment rates than in regions with low unemployment rates where workers face tighter restrictions to access short-lived benefits.

"This complicated screening procedure, Intended to better support the various circumstances facing unemployed workers across the country, creates a number of undesirable consequences, the most glaring being pockets of high, chronic unemployment. "

One can see how the Trudeau government blames the EI program itself for problems linked to unemployment. The document goes on:

"This Backgrounder argues that Canada's EI program, instead of providing clear and equitable access to benefits for all Canadian workers, supports the preservation of regional labour markets that are dominated by part-year employment. To the extent that variable entrance requirements support persistently high unemployment rates in a few Canadian regions, the program hinders the convergence of wages, prices and unemployment rates across the country.

"The EI program, therefore, undermines the economic benefits that stem from labour mobility in pursuit of higher wages and more attractive work, the re-allocation of workers among sectors and geographical regions, and a regional convergence in wages, prices, and unemployment rates. Reforms to the EI program should focus on removing barriers to mobility by creating uniform, nationwide EI entrance requirements and benefit entitlement periods.

"In fact, laid-off workers in low-unemployment regions have greater difficulty in qualifying for EI than otherwise similar individuals in high-unemployment regions. This geography-based policy contributes to incentives against mobility, thereby reinforcing patterns of persistently high unemployment and dependency among groups of seasonal workers who, by definition, are inactive for much of the year. As a result, should there be an increased global demand for commodities, for example, labour shortages are more likely to occur in Western Canada.

"Essential for a well-functioning national labour market are policies that facilitate and, at a minimum, do not deter labour market mobility. In contrast, the current EI program acts more as a provincial and sub-provincial level program through the geographic variance in access and benefits. Hence, another good reason for eliminating the [Variable Entrance Requirements (VER)] and variable benefit durations is because they work against the purposes of a national program, with unintended consequences including persistent pockets of high unemployment. The bulk of the Canadian labour market, through its EI contributions, redistributes income toward seasonal economies and industries.

"Furthermore, the EI program should not support the preservation of rural labour markets that are dominated by part-year employment."

This document does not go into measures that could be implemented to supposedly better align the system of Employment Insurance with the labour market and avoid giving benefits that encourage regions with high unemployment and the unemployed who are there to stay in their region.

In February 2016, the C.D. Howe Institute published another document that gives us a better idea of what might be in the works. This document is entitled National Priorities 2016: Job One is Jobs: Workers Need Better and is signed by Craig Alexander.

It reads as follows :

"Regionally based eligibility criteria should be replaced by uniform, countrywide, employment insurance entrance requirements and benefit durations. If regional differences are desired, the federal government should hive off this responsibility to the provinces to create a regional benefit top up or entrance requirements (Busby and Gray forthcoming).

"Reforms to other income support programs -- including social assistance and disability assistance -- can help people not covered by EI to reengage in labour markets. The rise in long-term unemployed means that more displaced workers exceed EI benefit durations. There is also a worrying increase in individuals receiving government disability assistance -- at which point the probability of them returning to the labour market is low.

"While the aging of the population will tend to lead to higher disability numbers, Statistics Canada's Participation and Activity Limitation Survey is clear that aging only accounts for part of the rise. Among the range of assistance programs (from EI sickness claims to CPP disability payments), there has also been a shift towards greater social assistance-related disability expenditures (particularly in the provinces from Ontario westward with the exception of Saskatchewan). In other words, disability is increasingly being used for what was historically classified as welfare. Given Canada's aging population and prospect of slower labour force growth, social assistance and disability programs should be geared to providing appropriate support to those in need, but also be structured in a way to help individuals return to labour markets."

What can we make of this? In ideological terms, it could very well mean that the Trudeau government is paving the way for yet another major anti-social reform affecting the EI program based on the following premises:

-that the current EI program enforces chronic unemployment in regions of the country where seasonal industries are dominant and artificially keeps the unemployed on EI when they could go and work elsewhere in the country if the regime was even more severe towards them;
- that the unemployed are divided into two opposing camps, seasonal workers versus non-seasonal workers;
- that a number of workers, seasonal workers in particular, never move and therefore don't really fit in the EI program, nor do they fit in the ''labour market'' since they are part of a captive market and have no mobility. They would therefore be better off if they were part of other programs such as social assistance seeing as they do not participate whatsoever in job mobility. Obviously, an essential ingredient of the Trudeau government's notion of equity is to pit workers against one another so as to further destroy national living and working conditions.

Disinformation about Maximum Flexibility Applied to Pensions

The Trudeau government has the same approach to the pension plans. Before becoming Finance Minister, Bill Morneau was president of the Morneau Sheppell group, which specializes, among other things, in health and group insurance -- including the management of health and group insurance, which covers management of absenteeism and disability on behalf of large employers -- and in administration and advisory services related to retirement and pensions.

Here also the issue of maximum flexibility is raised in a purely pragmatic fashion. The destruction of the existing pension plans is considered to be a done deal while the role of agencies such as Morneau Sheppell is to take this destruction as a starting point to propose and manage pension plans which are definitely inferior and offer no retirement security.

Here is how Morneau, as Chairman of Morneau Sheppell, spoke on the matter at a national conference on pensions in 2013. He spoke about the disappearance of defined benefit pension plans, especially in the private sector, and about solutions to this problem:

"First of all, 'average Canadians' don't have a defined benefit pension plan. About one in ten private sector workers have a defined benefit pension plan. When you add the roughly 80 per cent of public sector workers who are in defined benefit plans, about a third of Canadians are part of this lucky cohort. Or, better put, two-thirds of Canadians are not in a defined benefit pension plan.

"More importantly, we believe that this trend is very likely irreversible. We have thousands of clients across Canada. I would be hard-pressed to come up with even one new defined benefit plan in our client base (with the exception of dealing with mergers or significant organizational changes) in the last decade. In fact, we've done some analysis of the expected number of defined benefit plans over the next decade, based on several scenarios. None of them look positive.

"We figure, with about an 85 per cent probability, that the number of plans in existence in a decade will be from 18-70 per cent fewer than today -- depending on your economic assumptions -- and almost all of that attrition will come from private sector plans.

"I would put it to you that defined benefit plans, in their current format, in the private sector, are on a path to extinction.

"We can hope for something different -- but hope is not a strategy.

"So, here's the question: what will the government do ?

"I would suggest to you that governments will only deal with the potential 'problem' in retirement income security by encouraging people to save more.

"A modest CPP increase and/or the introduction of PRPPs with a default option to auto-enroll plan participants into a new savings vehicle appear to be the likely solutions.

"So, what about defined benefit plans ?

"This is a public sector problem.

"Who believes that the average Canadian, without a defined benefit plan, and with the demonstrated capacity to save enough to support their retirement, will, over the long term, agree to continue to fund public sector employees' pensions at a level that they can only dream about attaining themselves?

"Even the starting public sector employee, who should reasonably expect to have several jobs in his/her career, won't actually get the public sector defined benefit plan.

"So, it's older public sector workers versus everyone else.

"Not a great place to be.

"Here's what I think will happen.

"We have two choices.

"Choice Number One: We can continue with an attempt to fund rigid defined benefit plans for the public sector, causing decades of labour strife, reduced cash to employees in defined benefit plans, and private sector/public sector and intergenerational discord.


"Choice Number Two: We can introduce flexibility into defined benefit plans, considering ideas such as Target Benefit Plans or Shared Risk Plans, so that there is risk sharing in the case of lower fund returns, or unexpected longevity gains."

Once again, the notion of equity is wielded in a most pragmatic fashion so as to declare that there is no alternative to the anti-social offensive -- in this case, to the destruction of pension plans -- and to pit workers against one another so as to attack the living conditions of all.

We can see once again that the argument of maximum flexibility, lack of rigid rules, aims ideologically to paralyze and disinform the workers' movement, to the effect that there can be no rights as far as the working class is concerned, that defence of rights equals conflict among workers, inequity; and that the parameters of the anti-social neoliberal offensive is the only setting in which workers' actions can be conducted, rather than defending principles and rights and organizing on that basis.

Furthermore, not only are workers' rights non-existent, but the workers' struggles for their rights and against national destruction are deemed to be ''rigid,'' ''inflexible,'' which in turn makes the workers' actions harmful to the economy. These notions put forward by the Trudeau government are paving the way for a greater criminalization of the workers' struggles.

This is not widely known, but it was the Sheppel Morneau group and Morneau, himself, who were involved in the dismantling of the pension plans of public sector employees in New Brunswick. They used their advisory service department to replace defined benefit plans with a defined contribution plan, which is called a shared plan. The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (New Brunswick Branch) filed a lawsuit against the Government of New Brunswick for its attacks against workers' pensions. This is a constitutional challenge as PIPSC and CUPE are arguing that Bill 11, which enacted the Shared Risk Plan is unconstitutional as it violates Section 2d of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by preventing free and fair collective bargaining over an important term of employment (pension). It seeks to strike down Bill 11 and, alternatively, to strike down provisions of the New Brunswick Public Service Labour Relations Act that prohibits bargaining over pensions.

Here is how President of CUPE New Brunswick Daniel Légère described this Shared Risk Plan:

"However, simply calling a plan 'Shared Risk' does not mean that risk is actually shared between employers and members in this new model. The plan documents reveal that active and retired members will bear nearly all of the risk in a Shared Risk plan. Employers, on the other hand, are largely shielded from risk.

"If a Shared Risk plan is underfunded, the only risk faced by employers is a very modest, and capped, increase in their contribution rate. Plan members face this same risk.

"All additional funding pressure, if any exists, is relieved by automatic and unrestricted reduction of pension benefits, including potentially suspending cost-of-living increases for retirees, or even reductions of base pension benefits.

"This is hardly a system that 'splits the cost.' Employers face a limited risk of paying a bit more in contributions. Plan members face that same risk, but they also solely bear the more serious and open-ended risk of receiving a lot less. This is a complete upending of traditional defined-benefit plans... While employers previously recorded pension liabilities on their balance sheets in [defined benefit] plans, they will record no liabilities under the Shared Risk model, and many may try to completely write off their existing liabilities when converting to Shared Risk.

"Government has repeatedly obscured this crucial point. As they sold a pension model that shifts risk to plan members, they told plan members that conversion somehow made their pensions 'more secure' and that 'Shared Risk' provides 'much stronger protection' of pensions.

The government did nothing to correct the oft-repeated references in the media that the Shared Risk model features guaranteed base benefits, that only cost-of-living increases had been made conditional and that deficits are shared equally between workers and employers. In fact, there are no benefit guarantees (even for base benefits) going forward and risk is primarily borne by workers.

"This is not a fix arrived at through moderate tinkering: this is the wholesale abandonment of the defined benefit model."

When the Trudeau government talks about maximum flexibility and maximum mobility of labour, it means that nothing should obstruct the race for domination of the global monopolies within the sphere of influence of the imperialist system of states led by the U.S. and to be number one in the global markets; nothing must hinder this, no law, no regulation that hinders the empire-building of these monopolies nor their neoliberal free trade treaties such as the neoliberal Trans-Pacific Partnership or the free trade agreement with the European Union. Maximum labour mobility is an essential element of this maximum flexibility, and rules that still attach workers to an economic sector or region should be abolished as obstacles to the growth of the economy.

The struggle of the workers for their rights and for a new, pro-social direction for the economy is deemed rigid and dogmatic whereas for the workers, defence of principles, of standards and of rights is a guide to action so as to intervene practically and transform the situation so that it is favourable to the people and to society, thus solving the problems facing society.

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Canada Post and CUPW Reach Tentative Agreement

Postal Workers Will Continue to Oppose Threats Against Them and the Public Post Office

Postal workers rally in defence of their rights, August 8, 2016 in Montreal.

After more than 10 months of negotiations, Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) have reached a tentative agreement. The settlement came as a result of a marathon bargaining session over several days with a special mediator appointed by Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Labour MaryAnn Mihychuk.

Minister Mihychuk issued a statement congratulating the two sides for finalizing an agreement. Among other things she said, "These tentative agreements, reached voluntarily by the parties, are an important reminder for us all that a fair and balanced collective bargaining process works and can achieve real results for Canadian workers and employers."

For its part, Canada Post indicated that even though an agreement was reached, many problems remain to be resolved. In its statement August 30, Canada Post said it is still saddled with "complex" issues around declining lettermail volumes and rising pension costs, "but the two-year deal with the union will buy some breathing room to hash out those problem areas."

CUPW expressed satisfaction with the tentative agreement, which it claims is the result of "remaining strong and maintaining our strategy." Details of the tentative agreement have not been released as the union is conducting a ratification vote of its members across the country. What is known is that it is a two-year agreement that expires on January 31, 2018. It includes wage increases for the Urban Unit of 1% effective February 1, 2016 and 1.5% effective February 1, 2017. Regarding the pay equity issue for Rural and Suburban Mail Carriers (RSMCs), a Pay Equity Committee will be established and a final report issued in 19 months. Another important conflict between the two parties over the present Defined Benefit Pension Plan was not resolved. It will remain status quo for now but Canada Post insists that it must be changed to a Defined Contribution Plan for new employees.

Many other important issues have not been part of any highlights released so far on the tentative agreement. These include precarious part-time and temporary employment, no improvements in staffing, and Canada Post's ability to close all 493 protected CUPW-staffed retail locations, which would eliminate up to 1,200 full-time jobs.

CUPW announced that "additional details will be provided" to the membership as they vote to accept or reject the tentative agreement. The union bulletin made it clear that "The negotiating committee has unanimously recommended to the National Executive Board that we accept these agreements in principle. The majority of the National Executive Board has voted to accept these agreements and are recommending that the membership ratify them."

Postal workers and the union can be proud that in spite of Canada Post's threats of lockout and the unilateral changing of their working conditions, and the brutal methods used by the corporation -- which refused to negotiate -- the corporation was not able to impose the major rollbacks they wanted. It is clear that the determination and unity of the workers forced the Trudeau government to change its plans and not impose rollbacks on the workers by force. But postal workers must remain vigilant because they are not yet out of the woods.

Workers must have no illusions about the role of the Trudeau government. It wants to impose the devastating rollbacks on the workers and since they were not able to do it through the so-called negotiations process, other means will be used. Who is the Minister trying to convince when she claims that the government is for "a balance in collective bargaining" and believes in good faith negotiations? Workers who have been through 10 months of negotiations this time and many difficult negotiations in the past know very well "balanced" and "good faith negotiations" don't exist as far as Canada Post is concerned.

The fact that what is being proposed is a two-year contract must be of great concern for the workers. It certainly does not favour the workers and is a clear indication that the government and the corporation will continue to pursue the attacks against the workers through other means.

The focus will shift from negotiations to the Mandate Review process, which was established by the Trudeau government in the middle of such an important round of negotiations. This makes the government's claim that it doesn't interfere in negotiations ring very hollow. As the Mandate Review proceeds with what it calls "public consultations," postal workers and all Canadians can expect more disinformation about the "dire financial situation" of the corporation and the equally dubious "crisis" in the pension plan, which will be repeated by the monopoly media to prepare the ground to push the agenda of the corporation.

The Mandate Review will continue along the neo-liberal path to pursue privatization and deregulation and hand over the most lucrative parts of the postal service to private monopolies. This is what is at the heart of the crisis and instead of changing course, Canada Post and the Liberal Government are blaming the workers and demanding that the workers take up the agenda of the corporation and give up all their rights to decent wages and benefits and any say in their working conditions.

The claims by the government that privatization will not be on the table at the Mandate Review cannot be believed when we know that the Trudeau government intends to sign the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), which includes serious threats against the public post office. There is no doubt that the TPP contains measures which will allow international monopolies to interfere in the activities and mandate of Canada Post.

It is clear that the main role of the TPP in relation to the post office is to entrench a neo-liberal model that seeks, through deregulation and privatization, to limit public sector postal services. The legal advice received by CUPW on the TPP pointed out, "In large measure, these 'trade' rules reflect the agenda of large transnational courier and express delivery companies (the 'courier industry') that for over twenty years have been engaged in a campaign to limit the role of public postal services. While efforts to persuade governments to deregulate postal services as a matter of domestic policy have generally failed, the same objectives are being pursued through trade negotiations."

What is most revealing about the direction of the Trudeau government in promoting the TPP is that, following in the footsteps of the Harper government, they have failed to request that Canada be exempted from provisions of the trade deal that specifically target postal services in favour of the international monopoly courier services. (See TMLW July 2, 2016 -- No 27 Dangers Posed to Public Post Office by Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal)

Negotiations have ended in a stalemate but the Trudeau government continues to try to impose its neo-liberal agenda. In the coming period the resolve of the workers and the strength of their organization will be tested again in defence of their rights and against the drive of the ruling elite to destroy the public post office.

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Temporary Foreign Worker Program

Liberals' Proposed "Middle Ground" Steps Up Low-Wage Agenda

In preparation for the release of a report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum says the government will take the "middle ground." He said, "What we are seeking to find is a middle ground where there are legitimate needs for temporary foreign workers in certain areas, certain industries."

What exactly is this middle ground? McCallum suggests that the Conservatives went too far and, as opposed to the extremism of the Conservatives, he will go for the "middle ground." In fact he is proposing to allow employers to hire temporary foreign workers without having to show that they have made any effort to hire a Canadian citizen or resident.

"We're also going to reduce some of the barriers and the silly rules in order to give companies freedom to bring in the best and the brightest," said McCallum. "We'll get rid of many of these [required] labour-market impact assessments which slow things down enormously."

In areas such as Alberta, McCallum said, there's a strong demand for temporary foreign workers in the agriculture, hospitality and meat-packing sectors. Does he not know that far from a "labour shortage," the unemployment rate in Alberta is 8.6 per cent?

In 2014, Justin Trudeau criticized the Harper government, saying they brought in a large pool of vulnerable workers. He called for tightening the approval process, to make sure that employers first attempted to hire Canadians, and providing a path to citizenship for temporary foreign workers.

This is not the agenda that the Liberals in power intend to implement. McCallum's remarks are basically a repeat of the demands owners of capital made to the Committee. This includes removing restrictions on temporary foreign workers in seasonal industries. What McCallum did not say is that under the mantra of "flexibility of labour" and "equity" the Liberals are hatching plans to deprive Canadians who can only find seasonal work in their regions of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, forcing people to leave their home regions.

In this "middle ground," the rights of workers are completely dismissed, and class privilege prevails. A vague suggestion is made about a "path to immigration," with no explanation of what if anything will change. The demand to scrap the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and ensure that all workers have rights from the day they come to work in Canada is not even acknowledged. There is not one word about the brutal conditions temporary foreign workers experience, and the testimony given by the few temporary foreign workers and their allies who managed to speak at the Committee hearings. Only the arrogant demands of the owners of capital resonate with the government.

McCallum also fails to mention that in 2015 the government approved 180,000 work permits under the international mobility programs which do not require a labour market opinion, with about 90,000 workers coming through the Temporary Foreign Workers Program.

The Liberal "middle ground" is an attempt to legitimize the neo-liberal agenda of making the monopolies competitive internationally and use of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to achieve this aim.

The Temporary Foreign Worker Program must be replaced with a modern immigration system that upholds the rights and status of all and serves the public interest, nation-building and Canada's international obligations.

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Alberta Federation of Labour President Speaks Out
after Meeting with Federal Labour Minister  

Following a closed-door meeting with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John Minister McCallum, Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) President Gil McGowan sharply criticized the Liberal government's plans regarding the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. McCallum has been engaged in roundtable meetings across the country during the summer.

"(McCallum) made it clear that the federal government is seriously considering loosening the rules on the [Temporary Foreign Worker Program] and making it easier for employers in many sectors to use the program to bring workers into the country," McGowan said.

AFL President McGowan reported that Minister McCallum is considering eliminating the labour market impact assessment almost entirely for high-skilled workers in the tech sector, and for service sector workers for certain regions like the mountain parks in Alberta. McCallum has also indicated that another area where the labour market impact assessments may be eliminated is the fish processing plants in the Atlantic provinces. Eliminating this requirement is "almost a guarantee" that some employers would drive down wages and shirk their responsibilities to hire and train Canadians, McGowan said, and one that should not be abandoned.

"These are not 'silly' rules. They are important safeguards that exist to prevent companies from replacing Canadian workers with exploitable, precarious, badly-paid workers from other countries," McGowan said. "These safeguards are even more important right now, when there are so many qualified Canadian workers who are looking for jobs. We saw in the 2008 recession that if they're allowed to, companies will turn to cheap exploitable foreign workers regardless of the unemployment rate."

The AFL pointed out that the committee heard primarily from business sources, refusing to hear from many labour groups, including the AFL. "It's clear that on this subject, the government has turned a deaf ear to the people speaking up for the rights of workers, and has turned a blind eye to the numerous examples of why these kinds of safeguards are needed," McGowan said.

"It's outrageous that the federal Liberals are contemplating weaker [Temporary Foreign Worker Program] rules at the same time that low oil prices have driven unemployment rates in Alberta up and job vacancy rates down," McGowan said. "It was bad enough that the previous federal government let employers use the [Temporary Foreign Worker Program] to displace Canadians and suppress wages, when jobs were more plentiful. It's completely unacceptable to give employers the green light to do the same thing during a recession. This is an extremely wrong-headed policy."

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U.S.-Backed Destabilization Attempts in Latin America

Bolivarian Forces Take Decisive Measures to
Prevent New Coup in Venezuela

On September 1, a mass mobilization of workers, youth and other supporters of the Bolivarian Revolution took place in Caracas to defend the gains of the revolution and in support of peace in the face of new attempts by opposition forces to sow anarchy and violence in order to carry out a coup. Similar actions were held throughout the week. Actions also took place in Canada and other countries on September 1, with the aim of alerting people to new attempts by foreign-backed violent opposition forces to destabilize the country as a prelude to a coup.

The mass mobilizations were called in advance of the September 1 march called for by the opposition and advertised as "The Taking of Caracas." That march was aimed at creating anarchy and violence, particularly in Caracas and to, among other things, disrupt the functioning of the National Electoral Council (CNE), which is in the process of establishing if and when a presidential recall referendum will take place, in keeping with provisions in the country's constitution.

The National Electoral Council, has firmly stated that a referendum cannot be held before 2017 in order to follow the proper process and fulfil all the requirements for holding a recall referendum.[1] Despite this, the opposition, which holds a majority of the seats in the National Assembly through a coalition of parties known as the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (Democratic Unity Roundtable) or MUD, is demanding the referendum be held before the end of 2016 to force a new presidential election if it is successful.

The National Electoral Council announced the schedule for the second phase of the process earlier this week. The opposition then shifted its focus from demanding the release of the timetable to demanding the referendum take place before the end of the year regardless of what the Constitution allows.

In the end, thanks, no doubt to the firmness shown and prudent measures adopted by the Bolivarian government and its supporters, as well as their active mobilization, the two September 1 actions concluded without any major incidents. The opposition has since announced it will continue holding street actions in the coming days and weeks.

Efforts by Venezuela's opposition parties to remove the Bolivarian government headed by President Nicolás Maduro, using one pretext or another, continue unabated. In the lead-up to September 1, a number of arrests were made by the Bolivarian authorities as evidence surfaced of certain opposition forces allegedly planning to engage in violence as they had done in the short-lived coup against President Chávez in 2002, and the attempted coup against President Maduro in 2014 that left 43 Venezuelans dead and over 800 injured.

Information about a destabilization plan being put in place in conjunction with the September 1 opposition action was allegedly found in the possession of one of their leaders who was serving house arrest for refusing to control violent opposition forces in the city where he was the mayor during the 2014 street blockades known as "guarimbas." This led to his transfer to prison and the arrest of a number of other key opposition figures. One of these, an activist with the Voluntad Popular party led by Leopoldo Lopez, was allegedly found in possession of detonating fuses for explosives. Then just days before the opposition planned to "take Caracas" President Maduro announced that some 90 persons were arrested at a camp of Colombian paramilitaries located just 500 metres from the presidential palace in the centre of Caracas -- another indication of serious dirty work afoot.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department issued a statement condemning the transfer of opposition leader Daniel Ceballos from house arrest to prison and demanding his immediate release. The statement accused the Bolivarian government of trying to "intimidate and impede the Venezuelan people's right to peacefully express their opinion on September 1." This blatant attempt to interfere in Venezuela's affairs by the biggest foreign patron of the coup plotters received the swift rebuke it deserved from Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez and others.

Another attempt to add fuel to the fire came from Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro, who makes no secret of his alliance with the forces of regime change in Venezuela. He also issued a statement -- in the name of the OAS Secretariat – that contained a shopping list of complaints and slanderous allegations in an attempt to discredit and isolate the Bolivarian government and the National Electoral Council. The statement declared that the Secretariat would hold the government of Venezuela responsible should there be any victims on September 1 given that it had declined the offer of an OAS “observer mission.”

Almagro's dirty work using his position at the OAS was already rejected at meetings of the organization this summer by many Latin American and Caribbean countries that refused to support his call for foreign intervention in Venezuela and its expulsion from the OAS under its poorly named "Democratic Charter." (See TML Weekly June 4, 2016 No. 23.)


1. Earlier this week the Director of the National Electoral Council announced the next phase of signature collection and verification required to hold the recall referendum the opposition is demanding, will take place October 24 to 30. The initial phase that involves validating the signatures of 1% or 200,000 eligible voters the opposition was required to present to show they had support for soliciting a recall referendum was announced as complete on August 2. Over 600,000 of the more than 1.9 million signatures submitted were ultimately declared invalid based on a rigorous verification process that turned up widespread irregularities, including signatures of deceased or non-existent people, minors and others clearly not eligible, suggesting the opposition's willingness to engage in electoral fraud to get their way.

Under the Constitution of Venezuela, the next phase requires the signatures of 20% of registered electors -- some 4 million people -- to support the holding of the recall referendum. The National Electoral Council has already made it clear that if there is to be a referendum it cannot be held before January 2017 -- something opposition forces refuse to accept. The National Electoral Council points out that the opposition delayed the process of submitting signatures at the first stage, making it impossible for all the steps to be completed before the end of 2016. Instead the opposition and their foreign backers continue to demand the law be set aside so that, by hook or by crook, a referendum can take place before the end of this year. The time frame is significant as, under the constitution, if a successful referendum is held before January 10, 2017, new presidential elections would be required. However, a referendum held after that date, if successful, would lead to President Maduro having to step down and the vice-president serving out the remainder of his term.


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Bolivian Government Moves to Assert Sovereign Control Over Resources and Stop Destabilization

The Bolivian government issued a number of decrees on September 1 to assert the sovereign control of the government over the mining sector amidst the use of what are called "cooperatives" to undermine public control over mining licences and extraction in favour of mining monopolies.

The activities of mining monopolies and various mining "cooperatives" in Bolivia are similar to those of the big agri-monopolies and the Harper government in Canada when they set about destroying the Canadian Wheat Board, a public monopoly run by wheat and other grain farmers for their collective benefit and the country's. The Harper government tried to justify the destruction of the public monopoly by claiming that individual farmers were being blocked from selling their products directly to various monopolies and had to sell to the Wheat Board and that this violated their freedom. Since the Wheat Board's public monopoly has been destroyed the wheat and grain sector has been opened up for takeover by various U.S., European and other agri-monopolies. At the same time, the transport of grains, which was previously organized by the Wheat Board, has been severely compromised.

In the Bolivian case, mining cooperatives are used by private mining monopolies to undermine sovereign national control of resource extraction by making deals with individual miners rather than with the Bolivian government.

The government says the aim of the decrees is to allow "real" mining cooperatives to develop their activities in the framework of a new mining law passed in 2014. Those enterprises "camouflaged" as mining cooperatives in order to enjoy certain privileges under the law, but which are just "companies exploiting men and women" will have their licences revoked, according to authorities.

The announcement comes a week after violent road blockades by some of these cooperative miners, led to the death of five people including the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Rodolfo Illanes who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered when he visited one of the blockade sites. According to reports, the Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia (FENCOMIN) had organized the blockades to protest new provisions in the country's mining law.

One decree passed by the Cabinet on September 1 bans "cooperative miners" from conducting their own business with transnational companies. "The first decree explicitly states that signed contracts of lease and sublease between the mining cooperatives and domestic or foreign private companies revert to the domain of the state," Mining Minister Cesar Navarro said at a press conference.

Other measures passed by the government include one that gives more powers to the Mining Ministry. The state now has the authority to check and reverse licences in areas currently under the control of the mining cooperatives. "We will be able to verify hundreds of areas scattered in several departments to see if these areas have mining activity, but if there is no activity the granting of licences and administrative contracts for miners will revert to the Bolivian State," Minister Navarro said.

A third decree gives authorities the right to supervise and control cooperatives around the country. Cooperatives now have to meet a series of requirements to justify their business operations, such as providing information on the volume and value of their production, their income and how profits are distributed. Cooperatives must submit this documentation by Jan. 31, 2017. In addition, the government is requesting balance sheets, details of management structures and up-to-date rosters of partners and administrative staff. If any cooperative does not comply the company will automatically lose its status as a private enterprise.

The Minister for Labour Gonzalo Trigoso also announced a guarantee of worker rights for all workers serving in cooperatives. "From today these citizens are under the protection of labour legislation and the right to unionize is in full force," Trigoso said.

The use of dynamite has also been outlawed in public demonstrations. A law approving the use of dynamite in protests was previously approved but has been reversed after miners attacked police with dynamite during recent blockades. Anyone found with dynamite in public could face a sentence of up to four years in prison.


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Violence in the Face of Sovereign Changes
to Mining Policy in Bolivia

On the morning of August 26 in the town of Panduro, Bolivia's Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Rodolfo Illanes, was found bludgeoned to death, with clear signs that he had been tortured. He had been leading efforts on the ground to hold a dialogue with the mining "cooperatives" engaged in a dispute with the government. The escalation of violence also cost the lives of two miners although the circumstances of their death was unclear, according to official reports.

The conflict dates back to August 10 when 4,000 people linked to mining cooperatives began blocking roads in a mobilization against sovereign changes the government of Evo Morales was about to make to the Mining Act to prohibit private companies from investing in concessions, improving upon twentieth century laws that allowed anyone, even foreigners, to exploit mineral deposits.

According to a document by the Bolivia Centre for Documentation and Information (CEDIB) dating back to 2008[1], there is significant social and economic stratification inside the cooperatives. The members are those with greater decision-making power and benefits, who often subcontract workers to exploit the mines, making the cooperatives operate like businesses, based on profit-making and the exploitation of labour.

The Mining Act, passed in 2014, gave the Bolivian state greater control over mineral resources, especially by strengthening the historic Mining Corporation of Bolivia (COMIBOL) as the sole agent authorized to enter into agreements with private capital for the exploitation of deposits. Later, negotiations with the cooperatives led to the inclusion of joint ventures between the State and cooperatives for entering into such agreements, subject to approval by the Plurinational Legislative Assembly. However, the regulatory regime was never fully accepted by the cooperatives.

Specifically, one of the most significant demands FENCOMIN -- the Federation of Mining Cooperatives of Bolivia -- is pushing for the amendment of Articles 132 and 151 of the Mining Act . The first article requires the Plurinational Legislative Assembly to be the party responsible for approving mining contracts; the second prohibits mining cooperatives from entering into partnership agreements with private companies, whether the capital is Bolivian or foreign. According to records in the Ministry of Mining and Metallurgy, there are currently 31 private companies that have lease and risk-sharing contracts with Bolivian mining cooperatives. Two of these contracts are of an indefinite duration, two are for 35 years, six for 25 years, eight for 20 years and the remainder for less than 10 years.[2]

All the agreements were signed before the enactment of the new legislation, although according to the cooperativists, with the new law they ceased to have effect. The main partners of the individual cooperatives in recent years have been: Mining Development Company, Manquiri SRL, Compañía Minera del Sur, ASC Filial Bolivia, American International Trading Incorporated-AITC Inc. and Inti Raymi. The Government maintains that acceding to these demands would mean Bolivia privatizing its mining resources once again, like in the years of "gonismo" [referring to the presidency of Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada -- TML Ed. Note ] -- considering that the law covering their contracts, Law 1777 of 1997, was part of the Mining Code sanctioned by Sánchez de Lozada.

The cooperativists also oppose the amendment to the General Mining Cooperatives Act which establishes the right of workers in the cooperatives to unionize, arguing that it "distorts the nature of the cooperatives" and seeks to divide them. On the contrary, the Government assures them that the changes to the law do not affect the mining cooperatives, but rather confirm the legality of unions that already exist in the service companies, and open the possibility for members who depend on the service cooperatives for work to have the right to unionize. Mining cooperatives in Bolivia account for a lot of labour power. However, behind them hide powerful "bosses" that violate the miners' labour rights. This leaves many workers in cooperatives without access to a stable salary, health insurance or benefits such as vacations, bonuses and contributions to the Pension Fund (AFP).

In this lower stratum there are thousands of workers who are not members, whose wages are extremely low and who must submit to working in informal and precarious arrangements. With regard to this, the Federation of Mine Workers of Bolivia, which brings together all the wage-earning miners in the Plurinational State of Bolivia, stated: "They say there are more than 150,000 cooperative members, but when we go over the list of those who have health insurance, only 3,000 receive services from the National Health Fund, showing that the vast majority of workers do not have access to health care and that is another violation of their rights"[3].

According to documents [of] the Unit for the Analysis of Social and Economic Policies of Bolivia (UDAPE) published in 2015, between 1990 and 2013 average annual mining exports were at 32.9%, ranging from US$407 million in 1990 to US$3,083 million in 2013[4]. Foreign markets, especially Asia, the United States, Mexico and England, are essential for this industry that sells raw materials without added value. In this sense, mining carries a lot of weight in Bolivia's production, and within the mining sector, the cooperatives constitute a privileged sector with advantages in terms of the taxes they pay and concessions from the state for exploiting minerals without having to engage in competitive bidding. In addition, when it comes to political forces they have seven legislators, including deputies and senators[5]. The privileges they are demanding, such as the possibility to partner with large transnational mining companies, conflict with the principles of the government of Evo Morales who affirms that the natural resources belong to the Bolivian people and not corporations that try to impose their agenda.


1. See here.

2. See here.

3. See here.

4. See here.

5. Visit here. The article is published here

(August 27. Translated from the original Spanish by TML. )

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Coup President Installed by Senate Vote in Brazil

On August 31, Brazil's Senate voted 61 to 20 to impeach suspended President Dilma Rousseff in an effort to make interim President Michel Temer the full president for the remainder of Rousseff's term. Temer was appointed vice-president by Dilma after her re-election in 2014, although he is not from her Workers' Party (PT) under whose banner she won the election, but from the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party. Revealing the illegitimacy of the whole affair, Temer has already been banned from running for public office for eight years, after being convicted of breaking the electoral law with respect to election spending.

There were no abstentions in the Senate impeachment vote. A two-thirds majority threshold of 54 votes was required to confirm the impeachment and remove Dilma permanently from the office of president. Temer is now to remain in office for the remainder of her term set to end in 2018. After voting to impeach her, the Senate also voted on whether to suspend Dilma's "political rights" to hold any public office for the next eight years. In that vote, Senators voted 42 in favor and 36 against, with three abstentions, failing to achieve the threshold required for it to pass. Unlike the "new" president who is banned from running for eight years, Dilma is permitted to continue to run for public office.

Temer's party unsuccessfully contested the presidency of Brazil in the last four elections. Despite its candidates being repeatedly rejected by the Brazilian electorate Temer now is set to stack the cabinet with members of his party and implement its program of privatization and cuts to social programs instead of the program of the Workers' Party that Dilma was elected to implement.

Dilma had been suspended as President since May on charges that she allegedly spent money without Congressional approval and misrepresented the state of the government's finances in the national budget.

Many members of the Brazilian Congress who participated in the coup to remove Dilma are themselves implicated in serious corruption and have been caught using her impeachment to shut down the investigations into their own actions. According to Tranparencia Brasil, an "anti-corruption organization," some 60 per cent of the 594 members of the Congress face major criminal charges, from corruption to electoral fraud. Temer himself is reported to be implicated in major corruption allegations, including bribery, over and above his conviction for election law violations.

Speaking before the Senate, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, Dilma's legal counsel said the charges against her were trumped up to stop the investigation she supported into corruption linked to the national oil company Petrobras. Known as "Operation Car Wash, "the investigation implicates many of Brazil's elite, including members of the Congress. Three of Temer's Ministerial appointments had to resign when evidence emerged of their involvement, as well as their attempts to impeach Dilma as a way to put a stop to the investigation. Cardozo called Dilma's trial a farce and said "History will treat her fairly. History will absolve Dilma Rousseff if you convict her."

Speaking before the Senate in her own defence and against the coup, Dilma called the "evidence" used to impeach her mere pretexts: "... just pretexts to overthrow, by means of an impeachment proceeding without any crime of responsibility, a legitimate government, chosen in a direct election with a turnout of 110 million Brazilian men and women.[1] The government of a woman who dared to win two consecutive presidential elections. They are pretexts to enable a coup against the Constitution. A coup that, if carried out, will result in the indirect election of a usurping government."

She also denounced the illegtimacy of the impeachment trial: "There is no respect for due process of law when those judging state that condemnation is just a matter of time because they will vote against me anyway."[2]

In closing Dilma called for the people of Brazil to be allowed to decide in a new and immediate election rather than permitting Temer to ride out the rest of her term. It has since been made known that she intends to appeal her impeachment to the Supreme Court despite the same body having denied previous requests to stop the impeachment process.

TeleSUR reports that a recent poll by Datafolha found that 60 per cent of Brazilians wanted snap presidential elections in the event Dilma was removed rather than waiting for the next scheduled election in 2018. It also reports that surveys continue to show that Lula Da Silva, former Brazilian president and likely candidate for the workers' Party in the next presidential election, is the favoured candidate.


1. Brazil's population at the time was approximately 200 million.

2. Such declarations by senators were made widely known in the media prior to the holding of the "trial" in which the cases for both the defence and prosecution were to be heard, presumably to inform the senators' vote on whether to impeach or not.

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Speech of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff
to the Federal Senate

The following is the translation of the speech that was delivered by Dilma Rousseff, August 29, to the Brazilian Senate prior to the vote that removed her as President of the Republic. It has been edited by TML Weekly for clarity in English and explanations of key terms have been added.


Your Excellency Chief Justice of the Supreme Federal Court Ricardo Lewandowski, Your Excellency President of the Federal Senate Renan Calheiros, Your Excellencies (Senators),

Women and Men Citizens of my beloved Brazil,

On January 1, 2015 I assumed my second term as President of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

I was elected by more than 54 million votes.

At my inauguration I pledged to uphold, defend and abide by the Constitution as well as comply with the law, promote the general well-being of the Brazilian people, sustain the union, the integrity, and independence of Brazil.

Upon exercising the Presidency of the Republic I faithfully respected the pledge I made before the nation and those who elected me. And I am proud of that. I have always believed in democracy and the rule of law, and have always viewed the 1988 Constitution as one of our people's great accomplishments.

I would never act against what I believe in or engage in actions that went counter to the interests of those who have elected me. While on this journey to defend myself from the impeachment, I got closer to the people and had the chance to hear their acknowledgment, to receive their affection. I have also heard strong criticisms against my administration, the mistakes committed, and the measures and policies that were not adopted. I humbly accept these criticisms.

Not least, because like everyone, I have my flaws and commit mistakes.

Among my flaws are not disloyalty and cowardice. I do not betray the pledges I make, the principles I stand for, or those who fight by my side. In the fight against the dictatorship, my body has received the marks of torture. For years I endured the suffering of imprisonment. I saw brothers and sisters being raped, even murdered.

At the time, I was very young. I had much to expect from life. I was afraid of death, of the sequelae of torture on my body and soul. But I did not cave in. I resisted. I resisted against the terror storm that had started to engulf me, in the darkness of the bitter times the country went through. I did not change sides. In spite of having to carry the burden of injustice on my shoulders, I kept on fighting for democracy.

I have dedicated all these years of my life to the struggle for a society without hatred and intolerance. I have fought for a society free from prejudice and discrimination. I have fought for a society where there was no poverty or excluded people. I have fought for a sovereign Brazil, in which there was more equality and justice.

I take pride in that. When one believes, one fights.

At nearly seventy years of age, it would not be now, after becoming a mother and a grandmother, that I would abdicate the principles that have always guided me.

Exercising the Presidency of the Republic, I have honored the pledge I made to my country, to Democracy, to the Rule of Law. I have been intransigent in defence of honesty in the management of public affairs. That is why, in the face of the accusations I am charged with in this process, I cannot help feeling, again, in my mouth the rough and bitter taste of injustice and arbitrariness.

And that is why, as in the past, I resist.

Do not expect from me the obsequious silence of the cowards. In the past, with arms, and today, with legal rhetoric, once again Democracy and the Rule of Law are being attacked.

If some renege on their past and bargain for the largesse of the present, may they answer before their consciences and before history for their actions. I can only regret for what they used to be and for what they have become.

And resist. Always resist. Resist to awaken the consciences that are still asleep so that, together, we may set foot on the ground that is on the right side of history, even if the earth shakes and threatens to engulf us again.

I do not fight for my office or for vanity or for some attachment to power, as befits those who have no character, principles, or utopias to conquer. I fight for democracy, for truth, and for justice. I fight for the people of my Country, for their well-being.

Many today ask me where my energy to proceed comes from. It comes from what I believe in. I can look back and see all we have done. Look ahead and see all we still need to do and can do.

Most importantly, I can look at myself and see the face of someone who, though marked by time, has the strength to defend her ideas and her rights.

I know that soon, and once again in my life, I will be judged. And it is because my conscience is absolutely tranquil in relation to what I have done, in the exercise of the Presidency of the Republic, that I come in person before those who will judge me. I come to see straight in the eyes of Your Excellencies and say, with the serenity of those who have nothing to hide, that I have not committed any crime of responsibility. I have not committed the offenses I am being unfairly and arbitrarily charged with.

Today, Brazil, the world, and history watch us and await the outcome of this impeachment proceeding.

Last year in Latin America and Brazil, whenever the interests of the economic and political elite were hurt at the polls and there were no legal reasons for a legitimate removal, conspiracies were plotted that resulted in coups d'etat.

President Getúlio Vargas, who left us the CLT [labor code] and the defence of the national wealth, was relentlessly persecuted; the heinous plot orchestrated by the so-called República do Galeão, led to his suicide.

President Juscelino Kubitschek, who built this city, was the victim of constant and failed coup attempts, such as took place in the Aragarças episode.

President João Goulart, a champion of democracy, workers rights, and systemic reforms, managed to prevail against the parliamentary coup, but was removed and the military dictatorship was established in 1964. For 20 years, we lived the silence imposed by arbitrariness, and democracy was swept away from our country. Millions of Brazilians fought and won back the right to direct elections.

Today, as the interests of the political and economic elite are rejected at the polls, once again we see ourselves facing the risk of democratic disruption. The political standards prevailing in the world repel explicit violence. Now, democratic disruption takes place by means of moral violence and constitutional pretexts so as to lend an appearance of legitimacy to the government that is assuming [power] without the backing of the polls. The Constitution is invoked so that the world of appearances may hypocritically conceal the world of facts.

The evidence submitted renders it clear and undisputable that the charges against me are mere pretexts, based on weak legal rhetoric. In the last days, new facts have shed light on another aspect of the plot that characterizes this impeachment process. The petitioner who filed the charges being discussed in this process with the Federal Court of Accounts (TCU) was admitted as a suspect by the Chief Justice of the Federal Supreme Court. We have also learned, from the testimony by the auditor in charge of the technical report, that he helped draft the same petition he came to audit. The bias, the plot, is clear in the construction of the theses he defends.

They are pretexts, just pretexts to overthrow, by means of an impeachment proceeding without any crime of responsibility, a legitimate government, chosen in a direct election with a turnout of 110 million Brazilian men and women, the government of a woman who dared to win two consecutive presidential elections.

They are pretexts to enable a coup against the Constitution. A coup that, if carried out, will result in the indirect election of a usurping government; the indirect election of a government that during its interim period, has had no women heading its ministries, when the people, in the polls, chose a woman to head the country. A government that can do without blacks in the composition of its cabinet and has already shown utter contempt for the platform chosen by the people in 2014.

I was elected president by 54 and a half million votes to carry out a program whose synthesis is recorded in the words "not a single right less." What is at stake in the impeachment process is not only my term. What is at stake is respect for the polls, the sovereign will of the Brazilian people, and the Constitution.

What is at stake are the accomplishments of the last 13 years: the gains of the population, of the poorest people and the middle class; the protection of children; the youth getting to university and technical schools; the valuing of the minimum wage; doctors treating the population; making the one's-own-house dream come true.

What is at stake is the investment in works that will allow coexisting with droughts in the semi-arid region, is the conclusion of the dreamt-of and long-awaited São Francisco integration process.[1]

What is at stake is, too, the great discovery in Brazil, the pre-salt [oil reserves].

What is at stake is the sovereign participation of our country in the international arena, guided by ethics and the pursuit of common interests.

What is at stake is the self-esteem of the Brazilian men and women, who have resisted the attacks by the pessimists on duty regarding the country's capacity to, successfully, host the World Cup and the Olympics and the Paralympics.

What is at stake is the accomplishment of stability, which seeks fiscal balance but will not give up social programs for our population.

What is at stake is the future of our country, the opportunity and hope of further moving forward.


In the provisions laid down in our Constitution, it does not suffice to lose a majority in parliament to remove a president. There must be a crime of responsibility. And it is plainly clear that there was no such crime. It is not legitimate, as claimed by my accusers, to remove the head of State and government due to "the body of work." Those who may remove the president for "the body of work" are the people, and only the people, in elections. And, in the elections, the winning government platform was not this one now being tried out and designed by the interim government and defended by my accusers.

What the interim government seeks, if it is transformed into the incumbent, is a veritable attack on the accomplishments of the past years.

Delinking retirement payments and pensions from the minimum wage will be the destruction of Social Security, the country's biggest income distribution tool. The result will be even more poverty, more child mortality, and decay of the small municipalities.

Reviewing the rights and guarantees in the CLT labor code and prohibiting withdrawals from severance fund FGTS upon dismissal of a worker are the threats hanging over the Brazilian people should the impeachment without crime of responsibility prevail.

Important accomplishments for women, blacks, and LGBT communities are compromised by submission to ultraconservative principles.

Our wealth will be at stake, with the resources of the pre-salt [oil reserves], with natural and mineral riches being privatized.

The most frightening threat in this impeachment process without crime of responsibility is to freeze, for an unbelievable 20-year period, spending on health, education, sanitation, housing.

For 20 years preventing more children, teenagers, and young adults from having access to schools; for 20 years keeping people from getting better health care; for 20 years, families from dreaming of owning their own house.

Mr. Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski and Senators,

The truth is that the 2014 electoral result was a terrible blow against sectors of the Brazilian conservative elite.

Since the announcement of the electoral results, the parties supporting the candidate defeated in the elections stopped at nothing to keep me from being sworn in and my administration from attaining stability. They said the elections had been rigged, requested that the voting machines be audited, challenged my campaign accounts, and after my inauguration, relentlessly searched for any fact that might rhetorically justify an impeachment process.

As is typical of conservative and authoritarian elites, they would not see in the will of the people a government's legitimizing element. They wanted power at any price.

They did everything to destabilize me and my government.

It is only possible to understand the seriousness of the crisis that has befallen Brazil since 2015, taking into consideration the acute political crisis that, since my reelection, has characterized the environment in which investment and the production of goods and services takes place.

No one sought to discuss and approve a better proposal for the country. What was permanently intended was the affirmation of "the worse it gets, the better," in the obsessive pursuit of undermining the government, with no care shown for the harmful outcomes of such questionable political action for the whole of the population.

The prospect of an impeachment became the central theme of the political and journalistic agenda only two months after my reelection, in spite of the evident lack of a basis that would justify this radical move.

In this environment of turbulence and uncertainty, the permanent political risk caused by the activism of a sizable portion of the opposition ultimately became a key element in the slowing down of investment and the deepening of the economic crisis.

It must also be underscored that the pursuit of fiscal balance, since 2015, has met with strong resistance in the Chamber of Deputies, at the time presided over by Deputy Eduardo Cunha. The bills sent by the government were rejected, partially or wholly. Negative agendas, the "pauta-bombas," [Literally guided missiles, referring to amendments to a government bill by the opposition which if passed undermine the measures and intent of the legislation itself and the government's ability to function] were submitted and some of them approved.

The Chamber's standing committees, in 2016, only started working as of May 5, one week before the acceptance of the impeachment proceeding by the Federal Senate Commission. The Senators know that the functioning of these Commissions was and is absolutely indispensable for the approval of matters that interfere in the fiscal setting and in establishing a way out of the crisis.

The desired political instability setting was thus established, favoring the opening of an impeachment process without crime of responsibility.

Without these actions, today Brazil would certainly be in a different political, economic, and fiscal situation.

Many voiced and voted against proposals they had defended all their lives, without thinking about the consequences their gestures would entail to the country and the Brazilian people. They wanted to take advantage of the economic crisis because they knew that once my administration managed to rein it in, their aspiration of access to power would likely be buried for yet a longer period of time.

However, in truth the opposition forces only managed to succeed in their intent when another powerful political force joined them: the political force of those who wanted to avoid the continuation of the "bleeding" of sectors of the Brazilian political class, brought about by the investigations of corruption and diversion of public money.

It is widely known that during my government and that of President Lula every condition was given for these investigations to be carried out. We proposed important laws that endowed the competent bodies with the conditions to investigate and punish those found guilty.

I have assured the autonomy of the Office of the Prosecutor by appointing as Prosecutor General of the Republic the first name on the list submitted by the members of that institution themselves.

I have not allowed any political interference in the activities of the Federal Police.

With that attitude, I went against many interests and, for the position I took, I have paid and am paying a high personal price.

They have planned my removal, regardless of the existence of any facts that could justify it in light of our Constitution. They have found in the person of the former President of the Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Cunha, the vertex of their coup-driven alliance.

They have planned and succeeded in eliminating the government's legislative majority.

Situations were created, with the overt support of sectors of the media, to build up the political environment required to deconstruct the electoral result of 2014.

Everyone knows that this impeachment process was started by the "outright blackmail" of former President of the Chamber Eduardo Cunha, as one of the denouncers came to recognize in statements to the press. That lawmaker was demanding that I intervene so that members of my party would vote against starting his impeachment process.

I have never accepted threats or blackmail in my life. If I have not done it before, I would not do that in the capacity of President of the Republic. It is a fact, however, that not having bowed to this blackmail was the motive for accepting the crime of responsibility petition and the start of this proceeding, under the applause of those defeated in 2014 and those who feared the investigations.

Had I become an accomplice in improbity and the worst there is in Brazilian politics, as many today seem not to have any shame in doing, I would not be running the risk of being unfairly convicted.

Those who become accomplices in the immoral and the unlawful, have no respectability to govern Brazil. Those who act to spare or postpone the judgment of a person that is charged with enriching himself at the expense of the Brazilian State and the people who pay their taxes, sooner or later, will end up paying before society and history the price for their lack of commitment to ethics.

Everyone knows I have not enriched myself in the holding of public offices, that I have not diverted public money to my own benefit, or that of my relatives, and that I do not hold accounts or real estate abroad. I have always acted with complete probity in the public offices I have held throughout my life.

Curiously, I will be judged, for crimes I have not committed, before the former President of the Chamber, who is accused of having engaged in very serious illegal acts and who has led the plots and ruses that underpin the actions designed to remove me.

Irony of history? No, not at all. This is a deliberate action that relies on the silence of sectors of the Brazilian media as accomplice.

Democracy is violated and an innocent is punished. This is the backdrop that marks the judgment that will be issued by the will of those who cast unfounded accusatory pretexts against me.

We are one step away from consummating a serious institutional disruption. We are one step away from a veritable coup d'etat.

Dear Senators,

Let us go to the case records. What am I charged with? What were the attempts against the Constitution I have committed? What were the heinous crimes I have practiced?

The first accusation refers to the issuing of three executive orders for supplementary credit without legislative authorization. Throughout this process, we have shown that the issuance of such orders followed each and every legal rule. We have respected the provision set forth in the Constitution, the goal established in the Budgetary Law (LDO), and the authorizations provided for in article 4 of the 2015 Budgetary Law, approved by the National Congress.

All these legal provisions were complied with as regards the three orders. They simply offered alternatives to the allocation of the same limits -- apportionment and financial -- established by the executive orders setting expenditure limits, which were not modified. Hence, they have absolutely not affected the fiscal target.

Moreover, since 2014, by initiative of the Executive, Congress approved to make it mandatory to include in the Budgetary Law that any credit extended must have its execution subordinated to the expenditure limitation decree (decreto de contingenciamento), issued in conformity with the rules established by the Fiscal Responsibility Law. And that was precisely respected.

I do not know whether it was incomprehension or strategy, but the accusations made in this process seek to attribute our fiscal problems to these decrees. They ignore or conceal that our fiscal results are the consequence of the economic slowdown and not its cause.

They conceal that, in 2015, with the worsening of the crisis, we had a major fall in income throughout that year -- this was $180 billion Reals [approximately CDN$72.68 billion] less than forecast in the Budgetary Law.

They make a point of ignoring that, in 2015, we set the highest expenditure limitation in our history. They argue that, when I sent the request for authorization to reduce the fiscal target to the National Congress in July 2015, I should have immediately established another expenditure limitation. I did not do that because I followed the procedure that was not questioned by the Federal Court of Accounts or by the National Congress in analyzing the 2009 accounts.

Furthermore, responsibility towards the population also justifies our decision. If, in July, we had applied the expenditure limitation proposed by our accusers, we would have cut 96% of the total resources available for expenditures for the Union. This would represent a radical cut in every budgetary endowment of the federal bodies. Ministries would stop, universities would close their doors, the Mais Medicos health program would be interrupted, the procurement of medications would be harmed, regulatory agencies would stop working. Actually, in budgetary terms 2015 would have ended in July.

I say it again: by issuing these supplementary credit orders, I acted in full compliance with the legislation in effect. Not one of these acts disrespected the National Congress. As a matter of fact, this was the behavior I adopted in both my terms.

It was only after I signed these orders that the Federal Court of Accounts changed the position it had always had on the subject. It is important that the Brazilian population be clarified about this point: the orders were issued in July and August 2015 and only in October 2015 did the Federal Court of Accounts approve the new interpretation.

The Federal Court of Accounts recommended the approval of the accounts of all the presidents who issued orders identical to the ones I issued. They had never raised any technical problem or had the interpretation they came to have after I signed these orders.

Am I to be condemned for having signed orders that met the needs of several agencies, including the Judiciary Branch itself, on the basis of the same procedure adopted since the Fiscal Responsibility Law came into effect in 2001? for having signed orders that, added together, have not entailed, as proved in the records, a single cent of extra expenditure that might have harmed the fiscal target?

The second charge against me in this process is also unfair and fragile. It is stated that the alleged delay in the payment of economic subsidies owed to the Bank of Brazil, concerning the execution of farm credit program Plano Safra, is equivalent to a "credit operation," which is forbidden by the Fiscal Responsibility Law.

As my defence and several witnesses have already stated, the execution of Plano Safra is governed by a 1992 bill that assigns to the Ministry of Finance the competence for its regulation, including in relation to the role of the Bank of Brazil. The President of the Republic does not practice any act whatsoever in the execution of Plano Safra. It seems obvious, in addition to legally fair, that I should not be accused of a nonexistent action.

The controversy as to the existence of the credit operation arose from a change in the interpretation of the Federal Court of Accounts, whose definitive ruling was issued in December 2015. Once again, there is an attempt to say that I committed a crime before the definition of the thesis establishing the crime; a thesis that had never arisen before and that, as all of you Senators have learned in recent days, was devised especially for this occasion.

I would also like to remind you of the recent decision by the Office of the Federal Prosecutor, who dismissed an inquest on this exact same issue. He stated there was no ground for claiming there was an offense against the Fiscal Responsibility Law because occasional delays in the payment of contracts for the delivery of services between the Union and public financial institutions are not credit operations.

I insist, dear Senators: it is not me or my defence who make these allegations. It is the Federal Office of the Prosecutor who has refused to continue the process for lack of a crime.

On the change in interpretation by the Federal Court of Accounts, I remind you that, even before the final decision, I acted preventively. I requested the authorization of the National Congress to pay the liabilities and established by executive order the calendar for the payment of the subsidies due. In December 2015, after the Federal Court of Accounts' final ruling and with authorization from the Congress, we paid off all the existing debts.

It cannot be that, here too, one cannot see the arbitrariness of this process as well as the injustice of this accusation.

This impeachment process is not legitimate. I have not attempted, absolutely not, against any of the provisions in the Constitution that, as President of the Republic, I have sworn to abide by. I have not practiced any unlawful action. It has been proven that I have not intentionally acted in anything. The actions taken were entirely devoted to the interests of society. They have not injured the treasury or public finances. I state again, as has done my defence all this time, that this process is marred, from beginning to end, by a clamorous misuse of power. Only this can explain the absolute weakness of the accusations directed at me. It has been stated that this impeachment process is legitimate because canons and deadlines have been complied with. However, for justice to be served and democracy to prevail, the form alone will not suffice. It is imperative that the content of a sentence also be fair. And in this case, there will never be justice in my condemnation.

I dare to say that at several moments this process has clamorously deviated from that which the Constitution and the jurists call "due process of law."

There is no respect for due process of law when the condemning opinion of those judging is released and reported in great part by the big press before the final exercise of the right to defence.

There is no respect for due process of law when those judging state that condemnation is just a matter of time because they will vote against me anyway.

In this case, the right to defence will be exercised only formally, but will not be appreciated substantively in its arguments and proofs. The form will only exist to lend an appearance of legitimacy to that which is illegitimate in essence.

Dear Senators,

In these months, I was asked several times why not resign, to shorten such a difficult chapter of my life.

I would never do that because I have an uncompromising commitment to the Democratic Rule of Law.

I would never do that because I never give up a fight.

I admit to Your Excellencies, however, that the betrayal, the verbal aggression, and the violence of prejudice have overwhelmed me and, at times, even hurt me. Yet these were far outweighed by the solidarity, the support, and the readiness to fight of millions of Brazilian women and men across the country. By means of street rallies, meetings, seminars, books, shows, mobilizations on the internet, our people were all creativity and stamina to fight against the coup.

Over this period, the Brazilian women have been a fundamental bulwark for my resistance. They have covered me in flowers and protected me with their solidarity. Indefatigable partners in a battle where misogyny and prejudice have shown their claws, the Brazilian women have expressed, in this combat for democracy and rights, their strength and resilience. Courageous Brazilian women, whom I have the honour and duty of representing as the first female President of Brazil.

I get to this stage of this process committed to fulfilling a demand by the majority of the Brazilians: call them to decide, at the polls, about the future of our country. Dialogue, participation, and direct and free vote are the best weapons we have for the preservation of democracy.

I trust that Your Excellencies will provide justice. My mind is at peace. I have not committed any crime of responsibility. The accusations directed at me are unfair and improper. To definitively impeach my term is like sentencing me to political death.

This is the second trial I have been submitted to in which democracy takes a seat with me on the defendant's bench. The first time, I was convicted by a court of the junta. From that time, besides the painful marks of torture, my image is captured in a photo before my tormentors, at a moment when I was looking at them with head held high while they hide their faces, afraid of being recognized and judged by history.

Today, four decades on, there is no illegal arrest, there is no torture; those judging me got here by the same vote of the people that led me to the Presidency. I have the greatest respect for all of you, but my head is still high, looking in the eyes of those who are to judge me.

Despite the differences, I suffer again with the feeling of injustice and the fear that, once again, democracy is to be sentenced with me. And I have no doubt that, this time too, we will all be judged by history.

Twice have I seen the face of death: when I was tortured for days on end, submitted to ill-treatment that makes us wonder about humanity and the sense of life itself; and when a serious and extremely painful disease could have cut short my existence.

Today I only fear the death of democracy, for which many of us in this plenary room have fought with our best efforts.

I reaffirm: I respect those judging me. I do not hold any rancour for those who will vote for my removal. I respect and am particularly fond of those who have fought so fiercely for my acquittal, to whom I will be eternally grateful.

This moment I would like to address those Senators who, though opposing me and my government, are undecided.

Remember that, in the presidential regime and under the aegis of our Constitution, a political condemnation mandatorily requires the occurrence of a crime of responsibility, willingly committed and fully proven.

Remember the terrible precedent this decision might open to other presidents, governors and mayors: condemning without substantial evidence; condemning an innocent.

I make a final appeal to all of you, Senators: do not accept a coup that, rather than solving, will worsen the Brazilian crisis.

I ask you to provide justice for an honest president, who has never committed any wrongdoing, in her personal life in the public offices she held. Vote without resentment. What each Senator feels for me and what we feel for each other matters less, at this moment, than what we all feel for the country and the Brazilian people.

I ask you: vote against the impeachment. Vote for democracy.

Thank you very much.


1. In order to ensure the supply of drinking water to 12 million people in 393 municipalities in Brazil's Northeast region, the San Francisco River Integration Project, currently the largest water infrastructure work for multiple uses in the country, integrates the Rio São Francisco River Basin with the hydrographic basins in the Northeast region of the country. Brazil's Northeast region contains 28 per cent of the country's population but only 3 per cent of the surface water available (75 per cent of this is concentrated in the basin of Rio São Francisco).

(Workers' Party of Brazil, August 29, 2016. Edited slightly for clarity.)

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