Σάββατο, 29 Μαΐου 2010

20100518 READ IT / OPEN LETTER to the PRESIDENT of BRASIL

This article is from The Wall Street Journal, as we all know a leading
financial newspaper worldwide, but politically an ultraconservative
one.

Published today 18-05-2010


OPEN LETTER to the PRESIDENT of  BRASIL

By DENIS MACSHANE

Caro Lula,

You don't remember me but we met now and then nearly 30 years ago when
you were an inspiration to labor movements around the world. Your
struggle to create a strong, independent trade union in Brazil helped
take your country to its democratic future.

I wrote articles about the great workers' rights movement in the ABC
region around Sao Paulo, where you organized strikes for fair pay and
decent labor conditions. Proto-globalization helped you. European
companies like VW and Renault had opened plants in Brazil. Your
appeals for solidarity from European comrades were transmitted via the
International Metalworkers Federation where I worked in exile from
Margaret Thatcher's anti-labor England. We sent over senior officials
of German unions who sat on the boards of VW and Mercedes-Benz. It was
one thing for Brazilian bosses to beat up Brazilian union organizers.
It was another for European managers to disrespect powerful German
trade-union leaders.

America's United Autoworkers' union also adopted you and made clear
via the American labor federation that democracy in Brazil was now in
your hands, not in those of the generals and oligarchs who held sway
over the country. You came to Washington and I raised your case at the
International Labor Organization. Don't misunderstand me. Brazil was
already en route to democracy, but you helped give it a final,
decisive push.

Something similar was happening in Poland, in South Africa, and in
South Korea, where worker-based organizations and independent trade
unions that rejected communist and capitalist cruelties were created
and helped open the way to the great democratization of the last
quarter century.

That is why it is with the most profound sadness that I see you
embracing the incarnation of everything that denies human rights,
social justice and all the good that liberation trade unions stood
for. The picture of you alongside the Iranian tyrant, President
Mahmoud Ahminedejad, as if he was the best friend of democratic
Brazil, has shocked all democrats around the world. This man presides
over a regime that tortures, kills, imprisons and humiliates those of
its citizens who dare to call for freedom and democracy. Teenagers are
hanged from cranes. Street protesters are killed with impunity. Women
are treated as second-class citizens and stoned to death. Writers and
journalists are routinely imprisoned, their publications censured, and
trade unions do not exist. Iranian gays live in terror that their
sexuality will come to the notice of the fanatic, human-rights-hating
clerics who rule the country with Ahmadinejad as their puppet.

Your new friend is an exterminationist who has called for the Jewish
people in Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth. Your new
companheiro sent rockets and bombs to Hezbollah, those terrorists and
Jew-killers. He swaggers around the world threatening every democracy
with his wrath. His regime is racing to obtain a nuclear bomb that
would utterly destabilize the region, as Sunni powers would no doubt
demand their own nuclear weapon to defend against this irrational Shia
order that believes a second coming of the "Hidden Imam" and
conflagration are just around the corner.

As a result, Russia faces a renewed threat from Islamist terrorism,
and America and Europe have to spend billions to protect their
citizens from the hate and terror encouraged and financed by your new
chum.

What on earth happened to the Lula I supported and built solidarity
for? I never had any illusions about Castro and the decadent, corrupt
prison camp that is today's Cuba, where writers rot in prisons and
pro-democracy oppositionists like Orlando Zapata are allowed to die in
jail. I did once hope that Hugo Chavez would use his charisma to make
Venezuela a democracy where social justice would have more say and
play. But he's just another populist latter-day Perón. His opponents
are often loathsome but his authoritarianism is not the answer.

Your global role as a champion of human rights, though, was admired
everywhere. And yet, you stand with Ahminejehad, who is the negation
of everything you once stood for, and everything the democracies of
Europe and the rest of the world have built. Why has it come to this?

I enjoy flying in Embraer jets and support better trade and contacts
with Brazil. Your great country has much to contribute to a better
world, just as you once contributed to its arrival as a full, modern
democracy. So why take tea with tyranny and shame your own life story?

Iran's present leadership attacks every decent value you once
represented. I still believe in those values that led me to support
you against your dictators. I wish you would once again become the
Lula who inspired the fighters for democracy and social justice around
the world.

Mr. MacShane is a Labour MP and was minister for Latin America in the
Blair administration.


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