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Sao Paulo came to a complete halt early on Friday morning. Usually by 6 am, the metro is overcrowded as workers pack into crowded subways on their way to work.
Today, the subways were eerily quiet and empty. The subway workers did not come to work, putting a stop to business as usual in the bustling metropolis. The workers are on strike against the President’s austerity measures, joining the millions of workers around the country who engaged in the general strike. President Temer came to power about a year ago after an institutional coup ousted Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff.
The Sao Paulo subway was empty all day.
The Sao Paulo metro company (CTPM) announced that due to the lack of workers, they would not be able to run the trains. At five of the six metro lines, not one train left the station. Only the privatized Yellow line was running intermittently. The Bandeira Terminal, with 130,000 daily passengers was empty. This is the most crowded metro terminal in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. It is one of busiest metro stations in all of Latin America.
At Guarulhos (Sao Paulo), Brazil’s most important airport, airline workers blocked the entrance early in the morning. Although they were repressed by the police, they later unified with a protest by metallurgists. Teachers, factory workers, professors and others are also on strike. All of these sectors have been affected by the austerity of the Temer government.
Heavy industry also participated in the general strike. 85% of the factories in Brazil’s industrialized area outside of Sao Paulo (the ABC), engaged in the work stoppage. This area is known as the heart of Brazilian industry and includes refineries, steel and automotive factories. These sectors are key to capitalist profits in Brazil. It is no wonder that they regularly suffer threats and harassment from the bosses. Yet, against all odds, they participated in the general strike. In some places, like Cubatão, the workers faced police repression.
Workers and students blocked highways around the country.
Later in the day, large protests took place.