Jair Bolsonaro faces first general strike of his presidency

. Jun 14, 2019
general strike brazil bolsonaro Protesters in São Paulo. Photo: Jorge Ferreira/@midianinja

The first general strike of the Jair Bolsonaro presidency took place on Friday, with several trade unions promising walkouts across the country. The principal demand of the protest is to challenge the government’s proposed pension reform, but other political agendas were also on the lips of demonstrators, namely the compromising leaked conversations between Justice Minister Sergio Moro and Operation Car Wash prosecutors.

Cites affected by the strike</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In São Paulo, Brazil&#8217;s biggest city, metro workers went on strike, affecting the city&#8217;s three main subway lines. However, by morning rush hour, partial service had resumed. The majority of the disruption was seen in the populous north and east of São Paulo, where subway stations remained closed throughout the morning. Overground trains and buses functioned as normal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Protests were called by education unions for the afternoon, continuing the sequence of demonstrations against cuts to the budget of federal universities.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Several roads were blocked by protesters across the city, including the access route to Guarulhos International Airport. Traffic in peripheral areas was above average, but most businesses in the city functioned as normal, with a full complement of staff.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Rio de Janeiro, transport services did not adhere to the strike, yet some demonstrations caused disruption to commuters during the morning rush hour. A blockage on Avenida Brasil left access to the Novo Rio bus terminal near impossible for several hours, and caused jams on the nearby Rio-Niteroi bridge.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In Belo Horizonte, the impact was much larger, with all metro stations remaining closed and several roadblocks being put in place by demonstrators. During one such protest, a woman was taken to hospital after inhaling toxic fumes released by the burning of tires used to close roadways. The municipal health department reported problems in the functioning of basic care clinics.</span></p> <h2>Muted reaction</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">By Friday afternoon, the repercussions of the general strike were deemed to be somewhat of a flop. While traffic was disrupted in major cities, several important unions backed out of the stoppage and undermined the effect of the strikes. It remains to be seen whether this afternoon&#8217;s scheduled protests will gather mass support.</span></p> <h2>Maneuvers on the right</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In response to Friday&#8217;s strike, right-wing groups—including young conservative organization the Free Brazil Movement (MBL)—have called for their own demonstrations on June 30. Their demands will be the defense of the government&#8217;s pension reform, and support for the Operation Car Wash investigation, which has had its image dragged through the mud after the scandal surrounding Sergio Moro&#8217;s leaked conversations.</span>

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This article will be updated as the day’s events unfold.

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