FT-CI

Sao Paulo University - BRAZIL

Students, Teachers and workers united against the repression

14/06/2009

Students, Teachers and workers united against the repression

We publish here an article from the comrades of our sister organisation in Brazil, Estrategia Revolucionaria, who have been participating in the mobilisation and struggle of workers, teachers and students at the Sao Paulo University. More on : www.ler-qi.org.

On June 9, the vice-chancellorship of the USP, Suely Vilela, Sao Paulo governor Serra and the Secretary of Public Security of Sao Paulo, Ronaldo Marzagão, showed their true face by brutally repressing the peaceful demonstration of students, workers and teachers form USP, UNESP and Unicamp. On that day the three sectors of these universities of the Sao Paulo state, called a demonstration that gathered almost 2,000 people for the defence of a democratic and fundamental issue: the withdraw of all police forces that have been in the campus over the last days, which are preventing the development of the normal university life in the campus in a clear breaking of the autonomy of the university. This also represents an attempt to stop workers from exercising their basic elementary right to strike as established in the Brazilian Constitution.
The strike of the USP workers started on May 5, and it has been since then an exemplary struggle for their demands for salary and for the reinstatement of the Claudionor Brandão, leader of the SINTUSP (Sao Paulo University Workers’ Union) and a leading member of LER-QI, who has been dismissed as a result of a political prosecution by the vice-chancellor of the University. Since the first day of the strike there was a strong military presence in the campus, which has been widely rejected by both teachers and students.

What is behind the militarisation of the university is an attempt to attack the freedom of organisation and trade union an political activities in the USP; as well as an attempt to attack the salaries, which has drop 42% over the last years, and also an attempt to put in risk the jobs of more than 5,000 non-teaching staff as the university is not fulfilling proper legal contract conditions. It also represents a weakening of the working conditions and on the “naturalisation” of the slavery-like working conditions of those workers on unstable contracts. It is against these conditions that workers have raised. Now, the other two sectors of the university community – teachers and students – have supported the strike and asked the withdrawal of the police forces.

As if the police force in the university was not bad enough, it has now violently repressed the mobilisation. As part of the repression the police arrested Claudinor Brandão, who according to several witnesses was only trying to avoid the arrest of another worker. He was arrested along another worker and student.

The repression on June 9 looked like a pitched battle, in which police heavily armed used tear gases and rubber bullets against a pacific demonstration and invaded the premises of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the USP, launching a truly hunting against demonstrators not seen since the dictatorship, leaving as a result several injured as well as some people arrested.

A lecturer of the School of Humanities and Arts describes the situation as follows: “A crowd of almost 500 people was trapped inside the building and were surrounded by the police and four helicopters. The atmosphere was panic-stricken. For almost an hour, at least, we could hear explosions and the smell of the tear gases was invading the premises of the College of History (…) In my opinion, if the teaching community doesn’t mobilize to these policies that are threatening the dialogue, and the freedom of speech and organisation, I don’t know what could happen.” Another teacher put it this way: “The photograph on the front page of the of the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo is conclusive: a student with his arm – a book – is threatened by the violent repression of the Military Police. Does it remember us the ‘lead years’ in the middle of the military dictatorship? Looking at the photographs on the newspapers and watching the images on TV, we should probably remember the irrationality during the Nazi- fascist times. As a former student of the USP, this not only hurts me but I am also protesting against the brutality of the Military Police action that – if good judgement and good sense had prevailed in this Vice-Chancellorship the repression could have been avoided”. Along the teachers from the USP, senators form the PT (Workers Party) of Sao Paulo, like Eduardo Suplicy and Aloision Mercadante, have also condemn the police action and the vice-chancellor’s attitude.

This feeling was generalised and opened up a powerful democratic movement demanding the withdrawal of the police and the resignation of the vice-chancellor Suely Vilela. As a response to the violent repression, the students called a massive assembly which was attended by 2,000 people and there they voted “Police out of the university Campus”; “Down with the chancellor Suely Vilela”, “Direct election of the Vice-Chancellor”, “to organise a round to the classroom to spread the support of the strike”, “support to the strike pickets” ; and the demand that the National Students Congress takes place in the USP instead that in Rio de Janeiro as it was previously arranged. The Students’ Congress was called by Conlute (National Coordinating Committee of Students) which is mainly composed by the PT that in turn is in the leadership of the students’ union of the USP.

One of the reasons that motivated the demonstration was, as the lectures who witnessed the repression told us, the condemnation of the repression and to Suely Vilela. The support given by the teachers, that the press is trying to hide no matter what because of the immense social weight of USP teacher in the entire country, is strengthening the mobilisation. The perspective of unity between workers, students and teachers pose the possibility to raise this struggle to a higher point that could challenge not only the elitist and racist content of the university, but it could also challenge the plans to dismantle the state education by the ‘tucano’ government (as it is known the PSB, the Social democratic Party of Brazil), to which Serra belongs and in this way becoming an important example of struggle.

So far, we have received the support of trade union and political organisation in Mexico, Bolivia and Argentina, as it is the motion and letter send by the workers of Zanon. Now, more than ever, we need to redouble the support to the strike. We call to all political and trade union, youth and human right organisations to send their solidarity.
Read more on the strike on: www.ler-qi.org.

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