IS IT THE BEGINNING OF THE END FOR THE GIG ECONOMY?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/09/17 –

London private hire drivers have won this week two major battles against two of the biggest minicab operators in a campaign to end the so called gig economy. After Uber had lost their operation licence in London, yesterday (25) was Addison Lees turn to lose a court case at a London Employment Tribunal which ruled that Addison Lee wrongly classed their drivers as self-employed. It has been a major blow for the operator and a incredible victory for drivers who have been fighting for years for better working conditions and better payment practices.

The TFL decision to refuse Ubers licence is not in any shape or form a decision against the drivers, quit the opposite. Uber drivers should celebrate this decision as it will force Uber to improve their working conditions, payment rates and terms of contract. The company will have to present Transport For London (TFL), a very good plan to tackle their bad practices in order to have their licence back, which can only means, better service for drivers and passengers. Uber don’t have to give much away in order to comply with the same rules as everyone else. Lose a market as big as London however, will be a huge blow for the business which can also lead for similar actions in other cities around the world. Personally, I don’t want Uber to go. Its undeniable that Uber offers an important service for the public, but the company must stick to the Law of the land, improve its practices and pay their drivers a decent share of the profit. Uber isn’t unique!  In the United States, there are plenty of similar operators such as Lyft.com that would be more than happy to replace Uber in London in case they fail to get their licence back. Nevertheless, I strongly doubt Uber will let London slip away.

It’s never been a more important time for private hire drivers to register to workers unions such as GMB and UPHD and help to keep the pressure on companies and regulators.

Addison Lee drivers have also a lot to celebrate this week. They made it clear they will not back off and let themselves be exploited and mistreated by greedy employers. Addison Lee drivers have fought a long way since the protests in Berkeley Square in central London, and this week the judges have recognised that Addison Lee drivers are workers and not self-employers. It is a major step forward to stop the gig economy from eroding  the bases of our society. There has been too much suffering and discontent among drivers, and for too long they have been totally ignored by operators. The tides are shifting now and professional drivers must not miss this opportunity to make lasting changes towards a safer and fairer industry.

But, none of these victories would be possible without the incredible support from our unions. Without them, it would be almost impossible for the drivers alone to fight multimillion pounds corporations in court. These corporations would most certainly continued to have their ways. But the unions were there to protect and fight for workers rights. We should be very proud and thankful for their support!

Workers must understand the importance of unions in making the justice system and the government to comply with their social responsibilities.

It is also important to understand that we cannot have a Margaret Thatcher style deregulated market, because as we know, it puts public and workers in danger of being exploited by ruthless multinational corporations. But we also cannot allow a Hugo Chaves over-regulated market, because it clearly don’t give business a fair field to operate. We must seek to find a middle ground where business are free to flourish, but the public and workers rights can at the same time, be secure and protected from abuse. London is indeed, open for business! But the message is clear, British workers will not tolerate businesses operating outside the Law. London has taken a leading position to show the world that a gig economy has no place in a fair society. Addison Lee, Uber and other companies must understand the message and accept their social responsibilities. It might not be the end of the gig economy, but it is certainly a step in that direction. London drivers will not back off!

 

 

TRUMP IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO WORLD PEACE SINCE WWII

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/02/17 –

Firstly, when Trump challenged the main stream media, I thought it was a good thing. The media is too powerful and don’t like to be challenged. The media protect their interests and must be challenged. So, criticism coming from an American president was the perfect match. There is no doubt that fake news is a huge problem throughout the media spectrum, and it was clear that the media, especially in America, did everything they could to destroy Trumps campaign. It didn’t work. The media was in fact, pivotal for Trumps victory. They were the victims of their own rating ambition. But, the way Trump has carried out his anti-media campaign went from what should’ve been positive criticism, to an outright full force attack. That’s not only bad for democracy, it’s highly dangerous!

Secondly, I thought he was going to challenge the so called establishment, and in doing so it would be normal to see the entire structure of the system shaking to the core. But, Trumps speech at CPAC is so far, the clearest evidence that Trump has decided to live in his own echo chamber by allowing in only people he likes. He completely disregards everyone else who don’t agree with him. Moreover, his plans for America Army is toxic and can drag the world back to the Cold War. That’s also not good for America!

Thirdly, when Trump had his Ban on citizens from seven muslims countries overturned by a federal judge, he should’ve appealed and followed the legal process of justice, instead, he attacked one of the core foundations of the Nation, by referring to the Judge as “the so called judge”. To any American citizen who praise their Constitutional rights, this should be enough to realise that Donald Trump isn’t really worried about their citizens rights and the Rule of Law.

Now, Trump announces he is doing another thing he promised during his elections campaign. He said during the CPAC, he believes in Peace by strength (a concept that never worked), and that he will make “American Military, bigger, better and stronger like never before”. He also said “it will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history”. The fact is, American military power is already the biggest military force the world has ever seen. The second best is centuries behind. But, his speech at CPAC has made me think about Vladimir Putin. The guy whom the West like to refer to as “the crazy guy”, “the dictator”, “the dangerous man” etc. I watched Trumps speech imagining what would be the reaction of the West if that exact speech was coming from the mouth of Vladimir Putin, under the ovation of the Russian people? Imagine Putin saying he will make Russia win again and no one will dare to mess with Russia again. Imagine that?

On the other hand, I was waiting for Vladimir Putins reaction to Trumps speech, and like most of us, I was waiting for something strong as like many of you, I also believe Putin has indeed a couple os loose screws in his head, though he’s far from being stupid. But, there was nothing from the man itself. The only response coming from Russia was from a concerned Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, saying that an American military buildup could restart the cold war, and that’s very true. It is also true that a replay of an arms race will again, ends with no winners.

What also concerns me is the efficacy of Trump’s “Peace by Strength”. In fact, an American military buildup will not make America greater or safer again. The risks of total armageddon during the cold war should have been a lesson for Donald Trump. More military power does not mean more security. Buildup the military, specially the nuclear power, will increase the chances of accidental war as well as nuclear terrorism. It will make nuclear countries to feel even more nervous, and it will be used as justification for other countries to develop their own nuclear weapons. It’s a mad idea! And, there is another big problem. Money! The US total debt stands as a colossus $66 trillion Dollars, or $809 thousand Dollars per family, which in return has only $10 thousand Dollars in savings per family. Where the money will come from Mr President? That’s a question only an adviser with balls can dare to ask Mr Trump. I don’t think Mexico will pay for that too.

I can’t stop looking back in time, more precisely to the beginning of the 20th century and draw parallels to what is happening today. Nationalism rising rapidly all around the world especially in America and Europe. The Arms race that will follow a buildup of American military. The Political and Military Alliances between Russia and China to face NATO. The conflicts in North Africa as well as the Ukraine crisis can be compared to the conflicts in the Balkans, and a possible collapse of the European Union could be the catalyst for total disaster. Frankly, we are heading that way!

In the 1930s when Hitler came to power, the Germans saw him as their saviour, just like millions of Americans see Trump today. The Germans had no idea that in 10 years time, their saviour would be dead and their country would be devastated by war and hated by the world. The Brits and millions of Americans would never believe Brexit and Trump had any chance to happen. The Germans would never thought their saviour could bring so much devastation to the world and to themselves. In fact, the Germans believed Hitler would be good to all German people. If you think I am comparing Trump to Hitler, that is exactly what I am doing. The potencial to world disaster under Trumps seems just as equal. There is a lot of similarities between Trumps atitude to Hitler and Mussolinis. They share the same mix of selfishness and egocentrism which is characteristics of all dictators. Like Hitler, Trump negotiates by intimidation. The violence is different of course, but the time is different too. However, the rhetoric is the same. The thing is, the less we believe that very bad things can happen again, the bigger is the chance it will happen again. Its important to consider that the comparison between Hitler and Trump must be regarded to their moment in time. Therefore, the comparison here is limited to the rise of Hitler and not to the end of his regime. Hitler cannot change his past, but Trump can still change his future.

It seems that American government is following exactly everything they criticise about authoritarian governments. The arrest of Journalists during Trumps inauguration, the censure of CNN, BBC, NYT and other, from White House as well as the rhetoric promoted by Trump in just over a Month in power, is very similar of those of dictators we criticise so much. The White House never looked so similar to the Kremlin. Perhaps similar to an early Hitler or Mussolini, ruthless dictators nevertheless. Trump is dividing America and the world. He is creating a lot of tension and division in just over a month of his first term. This cannot be good for America. His ultra nationalistic approach and attack on immigrants and religion, has created chaos around the world. This is not the American way! Trump could have been the American president of the century, but he blew everything in just over a month. God knows what he is going to do in the next 4 years. God Bless America! and God Bless us all!

THE BAN ON FULL FACE-VEIL IN EUROPE (opinion)

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 02/02/17 –

Austria has banned full face-veil in public places following similar decisions in France and Belgium. The Dutch parliament is analysing similar action, and in Germany, Angela Merkel is in favor of the ban. But, what is really behind this measure and why Europeans feel so threatened by a woman wearing a burka or Niqab? Fear of multiculturalism seems to be one of the reasons, and the rise of far-right politics in Europe is surely another clue. In Austria, the reasons given by the government to justify the ban was that, the veil stood in the way of an open communication, interfering on the process of an open society. How contradicting is that? The same rule can be interpreted exactly the opposite way. An “open communication” means that what you wear can tell about who you are, or what is your faith. It’s not different for Nuns, Priests, Rabbis, or a Punk or a hippy. However, only the burka has been affected by the ban. It seems that fear might be the main reason behind these measures. If that’s the case, we should hold our heads in shame. Fear of terrorism is the most shallow of all arguments to ban face-veil. Most of the terror attacks in Europe and indeed in the US, were carried out by men wearing western clothes. So what the Burka has to do with it? Ban the Burka is clearly a discriminatory action. European governments are supposed to combat discrimination, but they are in fact promoting it, and that’s utterly unacceptable! Muslim women are very vulnerable. They have little or no rights in many Middle East and Africa countries. In many cases they are forced to marry and are subject of exploitation, and when they come to the “free world” the discrimination continues. It must stop!

Europe is giving in to the same far-right ideas that caused so much destruction in Europe in the past. politicians like Angela Merkel from Germany, should never agree to ban the burka. She might be going against her own ideals and values to counter the rise of the far-right in her country, but this decision will come back to haunt her in the future. For those playing the argument that multiculturalism has failed, it’s important to remember that Europe today is a big pot of mixed race, religion and culture. It seems however, that what concerns Europeans is fear of Islam. Yet, fear of Islam was not caused by terrorists, but by the Western media propaganda. Americans for instance, should be more worried of toddlers than Muslims. Young babies cause more death by fire arms accidents in America than Islamic terrorism. That’s not to mention the Islamic State that have killed far more muslims than any other people put together. So what is this fear about?

Nick Ferrari, a LBC radio presenter based in London, has said in the past that he would not allow a doctor wearing burka to examining him. I ask why not? What is his fear all about? Did he ever asked a doctor to provide a doctor certificate before he let them check him up? have anyone of us done it before? isn’t it a doctor certificate more important for you to worry about than a face-veil? So why Mr Ferrari would ignore the dangers of a possible false doctor exam him and instead, fear the burka? He also said in the past that a person facing a panel of judges should never be allowed to wear a burka so the judges could see his/her face and judge his behaviour. Well, I thought the judges should judge the evidence not the person. So, maybe all people facing trial should actually use burka, so the judges would have to judge the facts and the evidence only instead of the colour the skin or how the suspect behave in court. After all, we all know that black people are more likely to be convicted of a crime than a blue eye white person. So please, burka for every person facing trial!

I can only see one reason for the ban on the Burka in Europe, and that’s discrimination! States are promoting discrimination which goes against European values of liberty, freedom of expression and tolerance. When the state starts to dictate what kind of clothes we should wear, it’s time to be scared and worried. We must not forget what happened to the Jews in the 30s and 40s, and we must not allow anything like that to ever happen again. Muslims in Europe are in a path very similar to that of jews in the 30s, which tragically ended with the holocaust. European people should not allow their governments to pass laws or regulations designed to discriminate people or their culture and religion, unless we want the horrors of the past to become the horrors of the future. I don’t believe anyone wish that. So, we should not fear Islam or muslims. But, we must fear people willing to hurt other people just for the sake of their ignorance and hatred. We should fear people who doesn’t like other people just for what they are. I’m not afraid of Europe been taken over by islam, but I’m really afraid of Europe been taken over by the same radical people who caused the worst humanitarian disaster in the history of Men kind. We should not fear a face-veil, but we must fear hatred. We should not fear people just because they are different, but we must fear people disliking others just because they are different.

Since the end of World War Two, Europe has become a place of refuge for freedom and democracy, where people from all back grounds can exercise their beliefs freely and in Peace. Europe has also been an example in the fight for women equality as well as for the protection for minorities and vulnerable people. We cannot allow European leaders to promote hate and endanger everything Europe has achieved in the fields of human rights since the holocaust. No country has the right to dictate the way you should dress or live! If that is happening in Europe today, it’s time to act quickly and stop these radicals from steer Europe back to the 1930s again.

 

PRIVATE HIRE DRIVERS: ARE YOU FIGHTERS OR MOANERS?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 11/01/17 –

That the Private Hire Driver industry is under attack we all know it. We also know that the continuation of such unfair, and in some cases, illegal rules and regulation policies, imposed upon drivers by some minicab operators, are unsustainable and utterly unacceptable. The question is quite simple, are we going to accept the status of a 21st century slave, or are we going to fight back? There aren’t many options I’m afraid! You either unite and put a stop to the exploitation (which you and your families are victims of), or you remain working more and more hours for ever less money (if that’s possible at all), until you drop dead or become penniless. The decision must be yours! Nothing will happen if we spend the days around Heathrow or gatwick airport complaining about how bad things are unless we are actually doing something about it. There is money out there guys! There are plenty of passengers too. What’s different now is the greedy and the aggressiveness of minicab firms policies under the wings of private equity firms management.

The arrival of UBER is undoubtedly a factor in changing the industry. But, the single biggest factor has been the arrival of Private Equity Firms and their insatiable hunger for “profit at all costs”. At our costs! The introduction of higher commission charges, rental and insurance prices, as well as changes in the point system, which used to allow hard working drivers to have weekly free car rental and insurance, was the actions of Private Equity Firms policies. I am sure we could compete and survive with UBER, just like British Airways compete and survive with Ryanair, M&S and ASDA, Debenhams and Primark. But, private equity firms unfair charges are killing us!

Professional drivers in the UK have been victims of a very aggressive and careless corporations which regards only about how much money they can make on them. They don’t care if your family is living on the streets, as long as their shareholders are happy, drivers wellbeing doesn’t matter. Their goal is to maximise their profits, even if that means bite in on drivers earnings! The only thing they care about us, is whether we can stay available for work as long as possible. Otherwise, drivers are just an inconvenience for them.

So, the same way we don’t expect to see rain in the desert, or kindness in the evil, we shouldn’t expect to see fairness and ethics in the way Private Equity Firms operates. From their point of view, drivers are just an inconvenience they have to deal with. Drivers complain about low pay, long hours of work, bad jobs, unfair charges and holidays, as if all these things were beyond reasonable workers rights. They don’t want to know our problems! They want us to shut up and work 24/7 for as minimum as possible. That’s why they are dreaming about driverless cars.

Private Equity Firms do what they are designed to do, and they are backed up by powerful legal teams that find the way around the Law. So, let’s not expect they will behave like ethical and moral institutions because they are far from that. They were design to be nasty beasts, and they will continue to be heavily driven by numbers and results. There is no human relations in the way they operate! They will continue to exploit us as much as they can, so they can get their shareholders stuffed with money to earn their fat bonuses at our expenses. They will not share the cake! We do the hard work just to be left with peanuts. That must stop! But, I remind you one thing; this situation can only go on as long as we allow it to. Without drivers, there are no minicab companies! That’s why we MUST UNITE!

Why do we allow these people to continue to exploit us without any resistance? Well, I suspect they know we will work longer if we need more money. The more we work, less likely we are to stop and protest. So, they pay us less, and we have to work more. The closer we are to become penniless, more concerned we will become about losing our jobs. Even when our jobs has become more like an occupation than a proper job, we will be afraid of losing it, because unemployment is a terrifying nightmare no one wants to go through. So, they know it, and they play the fear factor. It works! It will continue to work until drivers stop complaining, get united, and take action! It is possible to fight them back, and it is possible to win our industry back. But, are we willing to stand up side by side and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH in one single voice? Drivers, we must do it! The way these firms are operating is beyond greedy. It is criminous! We have the responsibility to stop them, for our own sake!

Social Media has been a very good tool to allow drivers to get together. But, that’s not enough. Drivers must have the help of professionals and big institutions such as GMB  and UPHD unions to fight against the evil of exploitation. If you are still not a member of a union, I urge you to go to www.gmb.org.uk  or  www.uphd.org and get yourself registered. Be protected! Unions can take big corporations head on and fight for workers rights. There are over 110 thousand professional drivers in Greater London today, and I wish all of them were a GMB or  UPHD union member. There is no way we can fight big firms without the power and the expertise of unions. We need them!

Drivers, we are the only source of revenue for minicab firms. Without us, there are no minicab companies! They must understand that and treat us the same way they treat their shareholders. Without hard working drivers, there will be no returns to shareholders’ investments. If 2015 was a bad year for professional drivers, 2016 was even worse. Let’s make 2017 the year we stop the abuse. The year we will take back control of our industry! Happy 2017!

AMERICAN ELECTIONS:THE DEVIL OR THE DEMON? YOU PICK.

By: Michaell Lange

London, 01/11/16 –

Let’s be honest, we are living in a world where Democracy is just a word used to promote a set of common interests that seems to benefit everyone but it benefits only a few. Its like other words such as Republican, Democrat, Socialism, right and left. Although they are different in theory, the fact is that no matter where the choice goes or whoever is in power, the world continue the same path of being controlled by an ever smaller group of people. The election in the United States is a very good example of that. The media makes the people worried about the possibility of Trump winning the election and become the new president of the US. The fact is, doesn’t matter who wins this elections, very little will change for you. You might feel good if you found yourself in the winner side, but that will be it. I say that because Barak Obama was the closest  America ever came to real change, but look to America today after two Obama mandates. Very little changed. America is today, not very far from where Bush left the country. To me, the inability of Obama to really change the country tells a lot about Democracy and voting, and it’s evidence that whatever the results this time, little will change for ordinary Americans.

The central problem might be the people’s mentality towards governments. We are very easily influenced by the media propaganda, and the media is, unfortunately, part of the government. We love a show, and the media gives what we want and we forget how serious elections are. The power of the media to influence people means that vote becomes almost irrelevant because most of the people will follow the media instructions and vote for whoever they want you to vote for. It’s not a problem limited to America though. It’s the same all over the world, and it shows how fragile democracy can be. If you are influenced by propaganda, it means that your vote isn’t really yours. If you vote based on political party or poll results, your vote actually belongs to someone else, and someone else will decide who you should vote for.

The media will take any opportunity to make elections a big show to sell news by making people exited and scared. Donald Trump in this case, is golden card. Whatever you call Trump, it will sell. He is the devil, the monster, and at the same time, the saviour. The more controversial he is, the better. Last week for instance, The American TV channel NBC published a poll showing Trump 1% ahead of Hillary. The entire world media picked up that news, but in fact, 1% difference is inside the margin of error of NBC poll, which means Trump isn’t in front, but in a technical tie with Hillary. The media knew it, but  who cares? NBC’s public relations saw a great opportunity to sell and went for it. The fact that it might influence the elections result don’t really matter as long the channel is making the most of it. The morning after Brexit, Britain supposed to be gone in thin air. Well, we are still here. Of course there will be trouble, but for ordinary people, not for the big ones. They never lose whatever the results. The Brexit itself was won based on lies, and even the people who voted for it, realised they were fooled. We all were. Even I, a remainer, knew that the argument for remain were flawed. I did my own research and voted with conviction. The Americans should do the same.

In general, people will vote in whoever makes the biggest show and attract more attention, as if it’s a game of seduction instead of electing the people who will manage your money and your life for the next 4 or 5 years. If the candidate is funny, good looking, and controversial, it has a good chance of winning. Little matter how prepared he or she is to become president. The fight is for appearance, no matter how dumb he or she is. That’s why Trump has a good chance to win. In the battle of the dumbs he is in front. That’s why Boris Johnson is loved in Britain no matter how incompetent and a convicted lair he might be.

I see people very worried about the possibility of Trump being elected. I have no doubt that, if elected, Trump will be no different than the other American presidents. It’s important to remember that the way the president looks, doesn’t really translate how good or bad he or she will be. George W Bush and Tony Blair are good examples of that. They looked smart, intelligent, competent, charming and credible, but they made the whole world a very dangerous place and were responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths including Americans and British people. There is no doubt Trump is a stupid man, but he is rich, and in a world where life is less important than money, he can be whatever he wants. On the other hand, if you think Hillary is any better, forget it. She has a history of disaster policies not to mention she is the establishment in person. Trump has no history in government jobs and that is positive for him. However, either candidates will do little for the average American struggling to meet ends meet. It has been this way since Ronald Reagan, and after Obama failure, I doubt change can ever be achieved. Certainly, not with these two. Whatever the results of this elections, Bankers and big corporations will continue to profit, while the average men and women will continue to struggle. I don’t want to sound pessimist, but look back 30 years and you will see the pattern. Very little changed within the social infrastructure, and I am sure neither Trump or Hillary will do anything to change it.

We must stop this carnival, and stop glorifying these people as if they are Gods. They are not! They are just opportunist people wanting to be more famous and more powerful. They don’t give a damn to your family. We must stop following our masters and start thinking by ourselves. Individualism is a force against us. We must think like a society where everyone helps each other instead of compete against each other. The actual system benefits only those in power and slave everybody else. Unfortunately, it seems that Americans once more, fell for the snake seduction skills. If I was an American, I would refuse to vote for these two. The American people deserve better. The whole world deserve better!

CORRUPTION IN BRAZIL: BUSINESS AS USUAL?!?

By: Michaell Lange,

London, 26/09/16 –

Just days before national local elections in Brazil, the political scenery couldn’t be more busyness as usual. Across Brazil countless candidates are either involved or being investigated for corruption and money laundering accusations. If the buying and selling of votes were a legal trade in Brazil, the stock exchange would break all records this week. From today, a frenzy will take over the streets in a last attempt to win voters that can decide the election results. It means that some people working informally for the candidates, will  be going around with a lot of cash in their pockets as well as promises in order to guarantee every possible vote for their candidates. The campaign financiers, mostly bankers and big corporations connected to local governments, will spend whatever it takes to elect their candidates. The days before the elections are crucial. These are when money talks louder and people can change sides depending on the offers in hand. The price of each vote also rises following the market Law of supply and demand. Prices can vary depending on the size of the family and the number of voters in each family. Also, the social status, as well as the willingness to publicly show their support to their candidates, will dictate prices and benefits in exchange of their votes. For full support, the voters will have to use stickers on the windows of their cars and houses to clearly show a done deal, like a stamp to identify a product. These deals are usually negotiated with the father or the oldest family members in private meetings.

Anything becomes a commodity for exchange. Car fuel, bricks, water tanks, jobs, tyres, roof tiles, medical treatments, penalty charge cancelations, driving license, dentures etc. Everything are used to buyout votes. Every person over 16 years old is fair game.

In the past year or so, Brazilians were made to believe, with the help of the media, that the so called Mensalão and Petrolão, were the biggest corruption scandals in the history of Brazil. In fact, no scandal of corruption is bigger than the Brazilian election campaigns. However, it’s in no ones interest to have this one exposed. In no other period of the year, corruption activities are more intense than those during the election campaigns. It’s like a gigantic street market where vote is the only thing for sale. All sectors of society are involved in this game of corruption, including the private and governmental sectors. Big and small corporations, especially those with overpriced projects from the government, awarded by bribing officials, pay fat donations towards candidates which in return will award more contracts for the same companies on an endless cycle of corruption that uses public money to elect a group of carefully pre-selected candidates. It’s like play on black and red at roulette using someone else’s money. You just can’t lose it. The money “donated” by big business will then be used by candidates to pay for more overpriced leaflets, flags and all kind of campaign paraphernalia including votes. Any car without a candidate sticker will be targeted. Some people wait until the last minute to sell their votes for the biggest price possible. Every election the trustworthy of the Brazilian electronic ballot box is put in check for being unsecured and easy to be hacked. It’s seems convenient to blame the computer, but the real hacking actually happens before the election day, and it’s not done by the machine but by corrupted people willing to sell their votes.

In this extremely corrupted society, it’s very important to have friends at any level of the government. It facilitates things and make your life easier. The biggest your friendship and your loyalty to the candidates, the bigger your chances to be well rewarded. It can go from a job as a driver all the way to a cabinet position with your own staff and your own budget. It’s a corrupted rule that is followed from the bottom all the way to the federal government. It’s like an accepted Law from the black market of vote. Without being part of this corrupted game it’s almost impossible to be elected for any Brazilian public office. But there is hope!

Despite the appalling situation, there are honest candidates out there. They are few and far apart, but they are not difficult to spot. I personally know a couple of them and would certainly vote for them if I could. The reason I know they are genuine candidates is because I saw they grow up to become role models in their communities long before they even think to become politicians. They have promoted social projects for children’s development and to help the environment without ask nothing in return. They live a simple life and they can recognise the needs and issues within their communities. Moreover, they are natural altruists, promoting the good and well-being of the people around them voluntarily. The problem is; they might lost the elections by refusing to play the game, the dirty game of corrupt politics. Some of these role models even refuse to put their names forward fearing they might be seen like any other corrupted politician. Although I don’t blame them for refusing to be candidates, I certainly think our democracy lose out without these people being part of their local governments. These are the real candidates and it’s vital that the electorate can identify them and vote for them in the next local elections, which will be held in just a few days.

For all the Brazilian people who watched the despicable display of shameless politicians at the theatre of shame for the past year or so, these local elections are the biggest opportunity to say enough is enough! It’s vital that the Brazilian electorate send the right message to those politicians who think they are untouchable. It’s time to elect a new generation of people that have already done more for their communities than these professional politicians which only go out to meet the people during the electoral campaigns.

The fight against corruption starts at home. Brazilians must reject these century old corrupted system that has dictated the election results for so long. A vote isn’t a product for sale. It’s a social weapon of selfdefense and must be used wisely. A vote is a button to eject corrupted politicians out of the office and straight into prison. This culture of selling and buying votes must stop! It’s not only illegal and a crime, it’s a declaration of corruption made by both parts at the moment these deals are done. Any candidate offering to buy vote should be reported to the High Electoral Tribunal, (TSE).

In just a few days, Brazilians will have a huge opportunity to prove that all the protests were not in vain. Reject the “business as usual politics” will send the right message to Congress that Brazilians will no longer tolerate this kind of behaviour. If they fail, it will give the go ahead to corrupted politicians to continue their money laundering business as usual culture. The Brazilian people must say enough is enough. It will be their choices and it will be a choice for their future. It just cannot carry on like this!

Brazilian local elections will be held in October 2, 2016 in every city to elect Mayor and Aldermen.

BRAZILIAN POLITICS: A SHORT OVERVIEW

BY: Michaell Lange,

London, 01/09/16 –

Brazilian politics have come to a dramatic new low this week when the democratic elected President Dilma Rousseff, was impeached by the Senate for allegedly crime of responsibility. She was accused of manipulating figures to hide deficits on government budgets though, most of Brazilian Presidents, as well as state governors, have done the same in the past and were never prosecuted for any wrong doing. It’s a fact. Manipulate figures to hide holes in the budget is a common practice in all levels of Brazilian government and Dilma Rousseff was not an exception. But this is the least of the problems. Most of the Senators and federal deputies participating in this impeachment process have been accused of much more serious crimes.

National and international media, have also been reporting confusing and misleading views about what is really going on in Brazil. An Sky News correspondent reporting from Washington has said on TV that the Impeachment is part of a clean up on Brazilian politics when it is actually the opposite. A twit outlined it perfectly: “Imagine a country where the biggest anti-corruption operation in its history ended up with all the accused taking power?” That is a fact! Some Brazilian news papers the day after the impeachment said in the first page “A new chapter” and “Viva Democracy”. Similarities to the day after the military coup in 1964 was disturbing to say the least.

The whole political crises started with the reelection of Dilma Rousseff as Brazilian President in October 2014. She defeated Aécio Neves from the PSDB party which formed a coalition with other right wing parties to try to put an end on a 13 years of leftist government; first elected in 2003 with Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from the Brazilian labour party, the PT. During the 8 years of Lula´s presidency, Brazil grew like never before. Social inclusion and other social programs have pulled over 30 million Brazilians from extreme poverty. By the end of his second mandate his approval rate were over 80%. His charm and charisma made Lula a global figure. For the next presidencial election he appointed a successful technocrat from his government, a friend, and also militant that has fought with the rebels during the military regime between 1964 and 1985. Dilma Rousseff, was arrested and tortured by the military regime. She survived 20 years of military dictatorship and guerrilla warfare that killed many of her friends. She is also a cancer survival. She was Minister of Mines and Energy and Chief of Staff in Lula´s government. But until 2011 she has never been elected. Dilma was an experienced technocrat, but she was not a politician. She haven’t even a fraction of Lula´s charisma, but she was the first woman to be elected president of the 7th biggest economy in the world. Lula was so powerful that it is said that if he had appointed a homeless he would probably be elected. While Lula became a global figure, Dilma decided to concentrate inwards. As Brazil was taken by a serious of corruption scandals involving mainly her own party, she gave freedom for the Federal Police and the supreme court to investigate and arrest anybody, close to her or not. Some of PTs senior members such as the ex-Minister José Dirceu and the national president of PT, José Genoíno were both found guilt of corruption and sent to prison. No such thing has ever happened in Brazil before! The scandals of corruption has weakened the labour party though. The slow down of Chinese economy also put an end on Brazils economic boom. Dilma Rousseff also started to show weaknesses in leadership. Despite her true patriotism and sensitivity regarding social issues, she was not competente enough or a leader as such, and that’s a fact. She was a horrible speaker and communicator. Comedians targeted her for her countless gaffes. Differently from her predecessor Lula, she was unable to work and make alliances with the opposition. The fact that she was a woman, also made it difficult to deal with an extreme conservative and sexist Brazilian right wing politicians. The right wing in Brazil are formed mainly by the evangelical bench, the military bench (also know as the bullet bench), and the ruralists. When they united against Dilma Rousseff her fate was set, and the country was going to pay the price for this political struggle.

The opposition, led by Aécio Neves from PSDB, thought that PT was finished and had no chance to win the next presidential election that was held in October 2014. In fact, if the opposition had a better candidate than the playboy Aécio Neves, they would almost certainly have won the election, but they messed up big time and lost the election by a small margin.

The Federal Police investigations were by then, starting to catch up with many of the opposition leaders and their political parties, including Aécio Neves. The so called OPERAÇÃO LAVA JATO or OPERATION CAR WASH, the same Federal Police operation that led to the arrest of José Dirceu and José Genoíno from PT for corruption, were now focused on a pile of evidence of corruption and money laundering involving most of the top members of the opposition parties. Most of the accusations were down to millions of pounds received by political parties and politicians under the carpet from big corporations in exchange of multibillionaire government contracts. Nevertheless, some of these politicians were involved in far serious crimes. Perhaps the most serious case became known as the “helicoca”. In 2013 an investigation carried out by the Brazilian Federal Police to combat narcotraffic led to the arrest of a helicopter with half a ton of pure cocaine in a farm in the State of Espirito Santo. The helicopter was found to belong to Zezé Perrella, a Senator and very close friend and political ally of Aécio Neves, the right wing candidate for president which is also known for his addictions to drugs and playboy life style. The media (mostly controlled by right wing politicians), gave very little coverage to the case and at the end, nobody was formally accused or prosecuted. The helicopter was returned to its owner, the pilot which was a Mr Perrella employee, were released without charge and the drug disappeared in thin air. Another case involving a supporter for the impeachment was the former Governor for the State of São Paulo and former Mayor of the city of São Paulo,  Paulo Maluff, also a close ally of Aécio Neves. He has been sentenced to 2 years in prison by the French justice for money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. Eduardo Cunha, the president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputy and currently suspended for corruption and money laundering accusations, was also an articulator of the impeachment and voted to remove Dilma this week despite his conditions with the Law. The president of the national Senate, Renan Calheiros, has also been accused of corruption and money laundering and countless accusations of corruption. In total, over 60% of all Senators and Deputies who voted for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff are either under the Federal Police investigation, or have already been found guilty of corruption and other crimes. Even Michel Temer, the successor of Dilma Rousseff has been under Federal Police investigation. The Brazilian Federal Police has strong evidence against all of the accused and the OPERATION CAR WASH was closing in on them very fast before the impeachment. But now with Dilma out, everything changed.

When Dilma Rousseff was suspended by the Senate Chamber earlier this year, her interim Michel Temer, now permanent successor, was quickly to create his own new cabinet which included 8 Ministers under investigation for corruption and money laundering. It is also composed entirely by white men. All of them, including the President, now enjoy parliamentary immunity against any previous accusations or investigation by OPERATION CAR WASH. It means that even if the Federal Police found them guilty of any crime, none of them will be prosecuted or arrested. Moreover, immediately after been sworn in as the new Brazilian President, Michel Temer started to work with his new cabinet to change Oil exploration rules introduced by Former president Lula, which gives the state Oil giant Petrobras, superior powers to control the Oil industry in the country. The new President is planing to give more freedom over the Oil exploration in Brazil to international firms and  to start plans to privatise Petrobras. The urgency in which he was dealing with this subject has raised some eyebrows. He also started almost immediately, to cut workers’ rights, giving more freedom to employers to fire employees. He is rolling back many of social polices and programmes introduced by Lula including the finance of athletes. Michel Temer also ended the Ministry of Culture.

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff most certainly put an end to OPERATION CAR WASH. The top people being investigated by the Federal Police are now in Michel Temers cabinet and protected by Parliamentary immunity. The impeachment also dumped the democratic election of 2014. It actually, overturned the result. It turned democracy in its head as the people in power today are exactly the ones who lost the election back in 2014. Despite all the evidence, they still deny the coup d’état. If it’s not a coup, it’s hard to know what that would it be. As the people protested at Paulista Avenue against the impeachment, a woman was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet from the military police. She lost the left eye. A big protest set for this coming Sunday (4) was outlawed by Michel Temer who also ordered the army to “maintain security” on the streets. It seems it’s not just a coup, it’s increasingly more likely to be a declaration of war against Brazilian people.