For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign, but will her agenda change the definition of “slave labor”?

Presidential candidate Marina Silva
Presidential candidate Marina Silva

Note from BW of Brazil: With only fifteen days until Brazilians go to the polls to decide on the country’s next leader, pundits already know that the field of candidates will soon only be two, after the lowest polling candidate Aécio Neves officially drops out of the race, leaving two women standing, the incumbent Dilma Rouseff and Marina Silva. With the death of presidential candidate Eduardo Campos, with whom Silva was running as a vice-president, in a suspicious plane crash, Silva’s polling numbers immediately suggested that she could actually wind up unseating Rouseff. But as political campaigns get harder and dirtier and the mud slinging gets thicker, Silva must now show that she can stand up to scrutiny, criticism and fight back.

Last week, we featured a report that showed Afro-Brazilian activist accusations that Silva, even defining herself as a black woman and wanting to be the “first black woman president of Brazil”, had no record of militancy on the race issue and is very unclear about her plans for the Afro-Brazilian community if she were elected. Over the weekend, Silva and her people met with Afro-Brazilian leaders in the city known as the center of African and Afro-Brazilian culture, Salvador, in the northeastern state of Bahia. Details of Silva’s policies towards key issues affecting the black community remain sketchy at this time, but one can only expect that these ideals will become more clear with the election about two weeks away. On on a related this matter, her detractors found something in her presidential agenda that could be of concern in a country that practiced slavery for more than 350 years

For the first time, Marina Silva makes reference to the race factor in her campaign

Courtesy of Brasil 247

Marina Silva in a rally in São Bernardo do Campo
Marina Silva in a rally in São Bernardo do Campo

“Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the PSB candidate on Friday, September 19, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, the birthplace of unionism and the city where the ex-president Lula da Silva began his political life.

For the first time in this presidential campaign, the PSB candidate, Marina Silva, used the racial factor to garner support from voters. “Let’s elect the first black woman president of Brazil,” said the presidential hopeful, during a rally in São Bernardo do Campo, in the São Paulo ABC metropolitan region.

The candidate spoke for a few minutes under a strong drizzle in the main square, downtown, the same place where, two weeks ago, former President Lula met with President Dilma Rousseff in a PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores/Workers’ Party) rally. On the occasion, PT militants filled the square. Today, the event attracted about 200 people, a good part of militants paid by candidates for deputy.

The candidate said she chose the location for its second campaign in the ABC because the square was “a symbol of renewal and change” in the 1970s and 1980s, during which Lula led union strikes and metal workers were concentrated in that space.

She reinforced, beside her candidate for vice-president, Beto Albuquerque, and Deputy (congresswoman) Luiza Erundina, her speech against “gossip and lies that the PT has spread” against her. And struck back against the party: “The PT stopped in time, and look what they always say in renovation. So much have they stopped in time that they are with Sarney (PMDB), with Maluf (PP), with Collor and Jader Barbalho (PMDB),” she said.

Marina program provides flexibility in the law against Slave Labor

Courtesy of Muda Mais

Detractors say that Marina's government plan could reword the Criminal Code of what should be defined as working conditions analogous to slavery
Detractors say that Marina’s government plan could reword the Criminal Code of what should be defined as working conditions analogous to slavery

Current president Dilma Rousseff has stated that “slave labor is a scourge to be eliminated” in our society. And her administration has made every effort to end this extreme type of human rights violation. Besides various operations carried out by the Fiscais do Trabalho (Labor Inspectors), the Senate unanimously approved the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution that orders the expropriation of all land in which workers are found in conditions analogous to slavery. The PEC, amending Article 243 of the Constitution, was a great achievement of the Brazilian people and human rights activists.

While Dilma did all of this, we are surprised with Chapter 6 of the government program of candidate Marina Silva that on page 205, provides for the “new wording for Article 149 of the Criminal Code of order to more accurately typify the crime of exposing someone to a condition analogous to slavery.” This may mean an easing in a hard-won law. And the ruralist caucus is already celebrating the possibility of a regression in human rights seeing a gap to suppress the two conditions expressed in the law that characterizes slave labor: the subjection of workers to “exhausting shifts” or “degrading conditions” of work, incorporated into the Brazilian legislation in 2003.

It’s worth remembering that the candidate has already caused controversy by retreating on another key point in the fight for Human Rights – the LGBT question – and proposes a relaxation of Labor Laws, leading to the erosion of workers’ rights.

It seems that the “new policy” proposed by Marina Silva is not in line with social advances achieved with Dilma and Lula. While the PT pair took 36 million Brazilians out of poverty and struggle so that all have decent living conditions and jobs, the PSB candidate seems unable to establish a true dialogue with the interests of workers.

PSB candidate discusses racism and intolerance in Salvador

The agenda of Marina Silva (PSB) today in Bahia, includes evening rally in Cajazeiras X

By Rodrigo Aguiar

With 15 days from the election, the PSB presidential candidate, Marina Silva, participated Saturday in Salvador (Bahia), at 6:30pm, in a meeting with black leaders to discuss the fight against racism and religious intolerance, and policies promoting racial equality.

In the event was to be delivered to the candidate, a Letter from Salvador, with 15 points, elaborated by militants such as PSB alderman Sílvio Humberto and the second alternate candidate for Senator on the Bahian PSB slate, Zulu Araújo, former president of the Fundação Palmares (Palmares Foundation). Then Marina was to participate in a rally in Campo da Pronaica, in Cajazeiras X.

Marina’s first meeting in Salvador is also seen as a way to respond to criticism of the lack of detail in her government program, on policies relating to the religions of African origin.

“It lacks, ultimately, fighting increasingly numerous and aggressive disrespectful attitudes towards Afro-Brazilian religious cults,” reads an excerpt of the program, which does not delve into the topic.

Interviewed by BBC Brasil, the national coordinator for racial equality in Marina’s campaign, Valneide dos Santos, said she had no specific knowledge on the subject.

“So we left it to the militants of the PSB in Salvador and the coalition to come together with us later,” said Valneide, who is also national secretary of the Negritude Socialista Brasileira (Brazilian Socialist Blackness).

Sílvio Humberto doesn't believe Silva ignored the issue, but that there needs to be a wider discussion
Sílvio Humberto doesn’t believe Silva ignored the issue, but that there needs to be a wider discussion

“I think what’s lacking is a process of wider inquiry,” criticized Sílvio Humberto, who said he was certain, however, that the presidential candidate didn’t ignore the issue.

“She didn’t ignore it so much so that we are reaffirming these commitments tomorrow,” he said. This is Marina’s first visit to Salvador as a candidate for president.

Religion

An Evangelical, Marina Silva has been criticized by sectors opposed to her candidacy and mostly linked to the PT, that call her a “fundamentalist”.

The label is refuted by Zulu Araújo. “Marina is Evangelical; it doesn’t mean that she is intolerant. It’s curious that this charge is being made when Benedita da Silva (1), of the PT, is from the Assembleia de Deus (Assembly of God). Walter Pinheiro is Evangelical. Are these people, by chance, fundamentalists?” he compared.

Zulu Araújo doesn't believe that Silva's Evangelical background automatically makes her intolerant
Zulu Araújo doesn’t believe that Silva’s Evangelical background automatically makes her intolerant

Other black leaders have suspicion of Marina attempting dialogue with such groups. “The head of the slate has never addressed the issue, neither as a minister nor as a candidate. It’s not part of the list of priorities of their project,” said Gilberto Leal, of the Coordenação Nacional de Entidades Negras (Conen or National Coordination of Black Entities).

Leal supports the PT, including participating in campaign government of Bahia candidate, Rui Costa.

With the connection of many entities of the Movimento Negro (black movement) in Bahia to the PT and allied parties, it’s not possible to predict who will attend the meeting with the PSB.

What is certain is that people come from other states, such Amapá (state) Deputado Cristina Almeida and Universidade de Brasília (UnB or University of Brasília) Professor Nelson Inocêncio – both linked to Negritude Socialista Brasileira – besides Jorge Arruda, executive secretary of Igualdade Racial (Racial Equality) of (the state of) Pernambuco will come.

According to Zulu, the President of Cortejo Afro, Alberto Pitta, and a representative of the Sociedade Protetora dos Desvalidos (SPD  or Humane Society of Underprivileged), where Eduardo Campos was a week before his death in a plane crash in Santos (SP), should also attend. At the time, Marina didn’t attend. The official justification is that the flight was delayed.

Source: Brasil 247, Muda Mais, A Tarde

Note

1. Benedita da Silva is a very important Afro-Brazilian political figure who worked many years as a maid, became educated later in life and rose in the ranks of the PT and briefly occupied the governor’s office of Rio de Janeiro. She is featured in a number of posts on this blog.

About Marques Travae 3222 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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