Brasília: Homeless Workers Occupy Federal Cities Ministry

Thousands march against increase in violence, mass evictions and criminalization of social movement leaders

On June 5, bus caravans arrived in Brasilia from across the country, carrying members of the nation’s largest urban social movements, representing over 1 million organized homeless workers. For four days, they camped out and marched on the nations capital, holding protests in front of the Supreme Court building demanding freedom for Lula and occupying the Federal Ministry of the Cities to demand that recent, unnecessary cuts to public housing and sanitation be reverted. Social movements that participated in the protest include: the União Nacional por Moradia Popular (National Peoples Housing Union/UNMP), Central de Movimentos Populares (People’s Movements Central/CMP), Movimento de Luta nos Bairros (Neighborhood Fighting Movement/MLB), Movimento de Trabalhadores Desempregados (Unemployed Workers Movement/MTD), Movimento Nacional de Lula pela Moradia (National Housing Struggle Movement/MNLM) and Confederação Nacional de Associações de Moradores (National Residents Association Confederation/CONAM).

Benedito Barbosa, founding member of the UNMP and São Paulo CMP directorate member, wrote the following communication about the Brazilian political conjuncture and the demands of the social movements.  


National March for Urban Reform and the Right to the City camps in Brasilia to denounce cuts of over R$1.2 Billion to sanitation, land regularization and housing, and to demand freedom for Lula!

Homeless movements from across the country organized within the UNMP, CMP, MLB, MTD, MNLM and CONAM and peoples and community movements, left in bus caravans and traveled hundreds of kilometers to Brasilia, which is still shaken from the truckers strike that stopped our already struggling economy, damaged by the enormous political and social crisis since 2016 when the political, legal and mediatic coup removed Dilma Rousseff from power after she was legitimately elected by over 52 million Brazilians.

Deepening the coup that is underway, a judge from Curitiba, under the baton of the putchcist media, imprisoned ex-President Lula two months ago, with the clear goal of removing him from this year’s presidential elections. Lula still leads in all voter polls and will run for President of Brazil anyway.

There are over 13 million unemployed workers unemployed in our country at the moment and this coup government of Michel Temer’s, associated with a neoliberal agenda, has driven the country to chaos and, in the interests of the markets, cut social programs, approved a constitutional amendment that will freeze spending on public health, housing and education for 20 years, enacted labor law reforms against the interests of the workers and is trying, by all means possible, to privatize the public banks, petroleum end energy sectors.

This illegitimate government ended the Self-Managed People’s Housing program, which allocated resources for housing cooperatives and associations in the city and the countryside, and we have seen a full out attack against urban and rural land and building occupations and an increase in urban and rural land conflicts with hundred of forced and violent mass evictions, deaths and an intense process of criminalization of social movement leaders

Further deepening the barbarism in which we live in our cities, in order to meet demands to lower fuel prices, this government has transferred the costs of its incompetence to the poorest of the poor, lowering even further the funds for public housing, health and eduction.

Therefore, there is no other alternative for the homeless than to fight, fight and fight for our rights.

The people’s social movements are in war against this coup government and, from June 5-7, will march for the right to the city and freedom for Lula in Brasilia.
Our demands are: Out with Temer and Freedom for Lula!  Elections without Lula are Fraud!

Photos by Alice Vergueiro

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By Brian Mier

Writer, geographer and former development professional who has lived in Brazil for 26 years. Former directorate member of the Fórum Nacional de Reforma Urbana (National Urban Reform Forum). Has lived in São Luis, Recife, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Author of “Os Megaeventos Esportivos na Cidade do Rio de Janeiro e o Direito á Cidade” (CEPR: Porto Alegre. 2016). Editor of "Voices of the Brazilian Left" (Sumare: São Paulo. 2018). Editor of "Year of Lead: Washington, Wall Street and the New Imperialism in Brazil" ((Sumare: São Paulo. 2019) Irregular correspondent for the Chicago radio show This is Hell.