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May 8, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Brazilian strikes met with violence

Brazil experienced severe unrest on April 28 as millions of workers went on strike to protest harsh austerity measures proposed by President Michel Temer.

All 27 states experienced strikes, which included workers employed as teachers, bank clerks, bus drivers, and auto production staff.

The strikes quickly turned into violent clashes between protesters and police, with police blocking protesters from entering airports, and using tear gas and rubber bullets. Protest responses included breaking store windows and setting alight bridges and buses.

The strikes and protests were in response to the austerity measures proposed by Brazil’s current centre-right government.

These include weakening labour laws and cutting pensions, which have been described by the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston as “lacking in all nuance and compassion.”

Temer, however, has promised to continue with the measures, saying “the Judiciary, the Executive, the Legislative, and the Brazilian [population] are naturally optimistic people; a population with no pessimism. That is why we say: whatever happens, with protests or no protests, Brazil continues and will continue to work.”

The recent activism fits within the wider context of Brazilian disillusionment with an increasingly corrupt political system.

President Temer was elected following the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff for “criminal administrative misconduct.”

A protester who participated in the strikes described her motives as “primarily against the government, which I consider illegitimate, and because of the workers’ rights and pension reform, which made this protest much bigger.”

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