#DefendDemocracy: BWI on the right-wing’s mobilisations in Peru and Brasil

Three months after BWI passed a resolution before its 5th World Congress on October 2021 calling for the defence of democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, its trade union affiliates in the region were immediately in the thick of the struggle to safeguard democracy from the attacks of far-right forces. 

On 7 December 2022, a parliamentary coup in Peru put an end to the one-and-a-half-year presidency of democratically-elected President Pedro Castillo. Castillo, a rural teacher, trade unionist and community leader was detained by police forces and replaced by Vice President Dina Boluarte. The abrupt transition of power in the country reportedly killed 45 protesters and injured hundreds more. 

Exactly one month after Peru’s political crisis, followers of former Brasil President Jair Bolsonaro attacked the country’s Presidential Palace, House of Representatives, Senate, and the Supreme Court in a failed attempt to oust President-elect Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, a renowned trade unionist and a widely respected global leader. It was reminiscent of the occupation of the United States Capitol on 7 January 2021 by Donald Trump’s supporters, who desperately tried to overturn the result of the country’s presidential election. 

The political crises in Peru and Brasil has a common thread. In both cases, right wing forces refuse to recognise the results of democratic elections that favoured trade union leaders, peddled fake news to delegitimise democratic political debate and participation, and have used reactionary violence as an instrument of political action. 

There are also common issues. In both upheavals, the rights of workers and trade unions, the protection of the environment, indigenous territories and natural assets such as water, timber and mining, are at the center stage of the conflicts. 

BWI’s trade union affiliates, partners and allies in Latin America have committed to act as first line defenders of democracy in the region against the schemes of right-wing forces. In the coming days, a more concrete plan of action will be executed by affiliates covering education work from the union rank-and-file up to highest levels of political advocacy at the national, regional and international levels. 

BWI will continue to close ranks with the global trade union movement in leading the defence of democracy and the construction of societies that are more just and equitable for all.