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   Vol.65/No.9            March 5, 2001 
'Lift the embargo against Brazil now'
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The following statement was released February 19 by Michel Prairie, Communist League candidate in the upcoming by-election in the Quebec provincial riding (legislative district) of Mercier in Montreal.

Working people in Canada and around the world should join with workers, farmers, and students protesting in the streets of Brazil and demand that Ottawa immediately lift its February 2 embargo against importing Brazilian beef to Canada, drop all charges against Brazil in the dispute over aircraft production before the World Trade Organization, and cancel Brazil's debt to Canadian banks and other financial institutions.

As Ottawa's own scientists admitted, the banning of Brazilian beef imports to Canada has nothing to do with any health threat, and everything to do with the five-year trade assault by Montreal-based Bombardier against Brazil's Embraer, its main competitor worldwide in the lucrative regional jet market.

This is not a simple trade war between two groups of capitalist rivals, in which workers from both countries have no interest in taking sides. Brazil is a semicolonial country oppressed and dominated by imperialist countries, including Canada. Canadian imperialism is a major actor in the world system where a handful of countries dominated by superrich capitalist families plunder the vast majority of humanity.

Along with the rest of Latin and Central America, Asia, and other underdeveloped regions of the world, Brazil has been struck hard by the deepening crisis of world capitalism at the beginning of the 21st century.

Its foreign debt to imperialist banks and other interests stands at US $226 billion. International Monetary Fund-designed austerity measures have devastated the lives of millions of Brazil's workers and farmers. Its natural resources and national patrimony have been bought out at fire sale prices by imperialist interests. And it has been robbed on the world market by a system of unequal exchange aimed at keeping colonial and semicolonial countries as producers of raw materials at very cheap prices and buyers of costly manufactured products.

Canada's ruling families have been part and parcel of this imperialist plunder of Brazil. Since 1997 three Canadian corporations alone--Nortel Networks, Bell Canada International and Télésystème Mobile International--have invested US $1.5 billion in the country, including the purchase at low prices of state-own telecommunication industries.

Ottawa's imperial arrogance and bullying are very familiar to the oppressed peoples of Canada, especially Native people and Quebecois.

Despite its noisy campaigns against "sweatshops" and "labor superexploitation" in third world countries, the trade union officialdom in Canada has remained strikingly silent in face of Ottawa's assault on Brazil. This is also true of the wide array of "anti-globalization" petty-bourgeois forces mobilizing against the upcoming April 20-22 Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. This summit will be attended by the head of states of the 34 countries of the Americas--with the exception of revolutionary Cuba, which is excluded from the event.

As working people, we need a different course--that of working-class unity and solidarity. This begins with the defense of the most oppressed and of those who are under attack by the bosses and their governments--here and internationally. From meat packers on strike or locked out in Vancouver to striking nickel miners in Sudbury, from debt-squeezed farmers in Saskatchewan to Quebecois and other victims of "Canadianism," we should join with our brothers and sisters in Brazil and demand: "Ottawa, hands off Brazil now!"
Related articles:
Canada presses trade war against Brazil
Prisoners' rebellion in Brazil exposes dismal conditions (photo box)
U.S. officials challenge Brazil's AIDS program  
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