AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, after two years of political turbulence in Brazil, which resulted in judicial rulings that barred former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from running for election, Brazilian voters elected a far-right former military officer, Jair Bolsonaro, to the presidency. He joins the company of other anti-democratic authoritarians elected around the world, like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Turkey, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines; and

WHEREAS, labor unions are being targeted. Recent changes to Brazilian labor law have eliminated important trade union and workers’ rights, cut off sources of union financing and significantly increased precarious employment in both the public and private sectors. Unions have reported intensified persecution of union leaders and workers throughout the country; and

WHEREAS, the AFL-CIO, the International Trade Union Confederation, Public Services International and Education International are mobilizing member organizations to protest the Bolsonaro administration’s actions to roll back democracy in human rights, workers’ rights, political freedoms, minority rights and environmental issues; and

WHEREAS, Bolsonaro has abolished Brazil’s Ministry of Labor, among other government agencies and ministries, and begun to fire thousands of public sector contract workers who are deemed a political threat to the administration’s mission; and

WHEREAS, President Bolsonaro has promised further public sector firings, proposed the abolition of Brazil’s labor courts, and promoted economic advisers seeking to cut pension spending, privatize state-run enterprises and public services, and grant tax cuts to the rich; and

WHEREAS, Brazil’s education system is likely to be one of Bolsonaro’s targets. He has threatened to scrap the decades-old tradition of school independence by imposing right-wing directors at federal universities. Bolsonaro’s education minister has said he wants to eliminate sex education, require that creationism be taught alongside evolution, revise school materials to include a more “balanced” view of the country’s military dictatorship, and encourage teachers and students to report “leftism” in the classroom. A bill, already moving its way through Congress, will bar teachers and university professors from expressing their political views in the classroom, ban the use of the terms “gender” and “sexual orientation,” and force the teaching of “moral and religious education” if parents request it; and

WHEREAS, Bolsonaro has transformed the Ministry of Human Rights into the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights and appointed a conservative pastor as its head, prompting outcry from feminist, indigenous and LGBT activists. Bolsonaro has ordered that the Ministry of Agriculture now has the authority to delineate indigenous territory, which threatens Brazil’s indigenous peoples and quilombolas, communities descended from runaway slaves, boosting agribusiness and threatening the Amazon with further deforestation and environmental degradation. Bolsonaro has repeatedly made misogynistic, racist, anti-LGBT and anti-environmentalist statements over the years:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will—in concert with the AFL-CIO, Educational International and Public Services International—continue street actions, social media communication and public demonstrations to call attention to the anti-democratic record and human rights abuses of the Bolsonaro administration; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT will communicate directly with individuals and groups in Brazil to support their fight against authoritarianism and pushback against President Jair Bolsonaro’s hateful agenda; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT affirms its support for the courageous individuals and groups in Brazil who strive to uphold constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, and we will support those in Brazil who oppose authoritarianism and continue to defend democracy.