Brazil's former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva discussed with union leaders proposals for protecting workers' and social rights and questioned the policy decisions and cabinet changes made by interim president Michel Temer, stressing the fact that proceedings to impeach President Dilma Roussef are still not over.

“The biggest coup was against the Senate. The Senate didn't approve impeachment... they cannot take it for granted that they won yet,” he said in a meeting with leaders of the Union of Metallurgy Workers of Greater São Paulo (Sindicato dos Metalúrgicos do ABC) earlier on Friday.

He reminded the union leaders that the May 12 decision simply suspended President Dilma Rousseff while she is tried in a period of up to 180 days, so Temer is acting president and should not have made deep changes in policies nor in the cabinet composition.

Lula pointed out that impeachment will only be approved if at least 54 out of the 81 senators vote for impeaching President Rousseff.

“You only need six more Senators voting against impeachment for it not be approved. And if Dilma [Rousseff] comes back in month's time, she'll have to undo all they are doing?,” he asked.

Since assuming as interim president, Temer named an all male and all white cabinet, reduced the number of ministries – extinguishing the Ministry of Culture and several secretariats that implemented policies to protect minorities - and announced a new Central Bank president. Since then, the ministers have been talking of policy changes, including cutting social benefits.

Lula met with directors of the Union of Metallurgy Workers Greater São Paulo to discuss the country's current political and economic situation.

During 90 minutes, Lula and the union's president and vice-president, Rafael Marques and Aroaldo Oliveira da Silva, heard comments and appraisals of the situation from the own directorship members present at the meeting.

The union leaders talked about the decision by Brazil's largest workers' central, the Unified Workers' Central (CUT) of declining an invitation to meet with interim President Temer as way to continue class action and strengthen the political struggle, which, at the moment is being led by women's groups.

They also discussed solutions for the economic crisis and the political deadlock, including the proposal of calling general elections.

Lula made short comments about the next steps to maintain workers mobilized to protect social and citizens' rights.

In a moment of self-criticism, Lula said that the biggest mistake of the governments led by the Workers' Party (PT) was not focusing on strengthening the political formation of the workers.

“When you focus only on results and not on the politics you reduce the difference between candidates and governments. The extreme left and the extreme right can build bridges in just the same way. The difference are the relationships that your build with the organized society in a country,” he said.

Lula mentioned that during his governments 74 national conferences were held, starting at council or municipal level, which then agglutinated into state level, culminating in a national conference.

These conferences aimed to discuss specific issues such as health, education, women's rights, minority rights, among others. Many resulted in specific policy proposals, some of which were taken forward (click here to know more about conferences in Portuguese ).

Between 2003 and 2014, a total of 98 national conferences have been held, involving 9 million people.

 

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