Iraq: 15 February – Brazil – Tens of thousands march in Sao Paulo

The February 15 march in Brazil was larger than similar ones in the past against the 1991 Gulf War or the Afghanistan war.

15 February. No to war in Iraq. cwi reports from around the world. Brazil.

Tens of thousands march in Sao Paulo

Except for the 150,000 people from all over the world who protested against the war at the World Social Forum, held last month, this was the largest Brazilian mobilization against the imminent war against Iraq.

The biggest demo was in São Paulo with 30,000 estimated by the organizers, filling Avenida Paulista, the main financial centre in Latin America, on a Saturday afternoon despite the rain.

There were many members and sympathizers of the PT, PCdoB, PSTU, Left organizations, unions and social movements. But, there were also many non-party young people and many were on their first demo.

PT (Workers’ Party) chairman José Genoíno and Senator Eduardo Suplicy took part in São Paulo. In Brasília, PT leader and President, Lula, again stated he was against war without UN support. Members of Socialismo Revolucionario (SR), the Brazilian section of the CWI, gave out thousands of pamphlets calling on the Lula government to take a firmer and clearer position. Lula should oppose the war even if the UN switches to support for American aggression. He should also stop repaying debt and stop Brazilian money being used to finance the US war machine.

We explained the burden of the sharpening economic crisis due to the war should not fall on the workers. Cuts in social spending, higher interest rates, higher oil and gas prices and other public tariffs and more repayment of debt are not consistent with the expectations for change created by Lula’s victory.

SR is calling a public meeting this Sunday to discuss the continuity of the movement against the war along with the fight for the Lula government to oppose the FTAA and IMF and stand for building a genuine socialist alternative in Brazil.

We sold about 150 newspapers in São Paulo and had some good discussions with young people and workers in search of a left alternative.

Mass camp outside US embassy

In his final speech, the leader of the Landless Movement (MST), João Pedro Stédile, called for a mass camp in front of the US Consulate in São Paulo on the day Bush moves against Iraq. This proposal had been made by the Movement of those without Education (MSE) in the São Paulo Youth Anti-War Committee

MSE activists will now be working to build a day of struggle for public education for all and in the struggle against the war. The struggle against the war is also against the FTAA and the policy of IMF privatisations and spending cuts.

SR members also intervened or helped to organize the demo in Campinas involving about 1,000 people. In São Carlos, SR members took part in a meeting in the City Hall with about 100 people.

In Rio de Janeiro, about 10,000 mobilized against the war despite the temperature of 40 degrees C. There were also demos in 25 state capitals and many other cities. In Brasília, government minister Olívio Dutra (PT) was among the 500 demonstrators and he said he was there on President Lula’s advice.

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February 2003