By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Organizers say that over 10,000 protesters came together yesterday, March 2nd, to demonstrate against the financial plan proposed by Governor Luiz Fernando, nicknamed “Pezão” (Bigfoot). The budget-cutting measures in contention mainly involve the schedule of when salaries are paid, which was bundled into a R$13.5 billion cost-cutting program made by Pezão last month.
The governor sent the proposal to the ALERJ (Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro) in an attempt to adjust the finances for the state. The goal is to become less dependent on oil royalties, which have fallen dramatically with the international market, from US$110 per barrel in 2014, to US$30 per barrel last month.
During the demonstration, protesters occupied the entire entrance to the ALERJ and beyond to block the lanes of Avenida Presidente Antônio Carlos. Called by the Unified Movement of State Public Servants, a group of almost thirty different unions, the act was a protest against the financial situation of the state, and especially the new budget proposal.
Also participating in the demonstration were professors, students, representatives of trade unions and social movements. Many wore shirts which bore the inscription: “Enough! The servers and the public will not pay for the crisis”.
The director of the Union of Education Professionals, Sérgio Perdigão, stated that the sector’s employees were encouraged to go on strike. “Our goal is that all municipal categories go on strike, it is to make a general strike of state workers. So here we are strengthening the unified movement.”
The president of the Association of State Military Police of Rio de Janeiro (APMERJ), Wagner Luiz told government sources that all sectors are receiving salaries late, and the thirteenth [salary] was divided into five dispersants. In addition, the government proposed to increase the social security contribution of servers to meet the deficit in Rio welfare.
“We have come to claim our rights, [that] the thirteenth salary is paid on time, the salary is paid on the second business day and not the seventh. All I want is dignity. […]. This [budget proposal] will reduce our salary and is unconstitutional.”
The state government said it would not comment on the event or on projects under consideration in ALERJ. Around 5PM yesterday, the demonstration went through the streets of Centro to Cinelândia, where the protesters dispersed.