BRAZIL: Teachers and Students Mobilize against Bolsonaro

By Jakob Stein

Since the Brazilian government announced budget cuts in education over the past few weeks, massive demonstrations have erupted at public universities around the country with teachers, professors, students, and parents joining forces to resist the measures.

On April 29, Education Minister of Brazil Abraham Weintraub announced a 30% budget cut across the board at all federal public universities and high schools. It is an ideologically motivated fascist policy aimed at privatizing education and removing any perceived “cultural Marxist” influence within educational institutions.

There have also been cuts to awarding scholarships for higher education, especially graduate level studies at public universities. Fascist President Jair Bolsonaro has even suggested getting rid of philosophy and sociology departments completely, as well as removing references to women’s liberation, homosexuality, and anti-woman violence in textbooks.

On May 6, Bolsonaro participated in a celebration of the 130th anniversary of the military school in Tijuca, North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, where thousands of high school and university students protested outside.

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Thousands of students and teachers mobilize outside of Rio de Janeiro military school against Bolsonaro

“This government of the Bolsonaro generals will pay dearly for the crimes that it has been committing,” a protester with the Popular Revolutionary Student Movement (MEPR) said. “Youth are a front line in the struggle against fascism and against the preventive counterrevolutionary coup being carried out by the Armed Forces in Brazil. If they want war on education, we will wage war in defense of it. They will not pass! We need to organize ourselves to stop the ‘pension reform’ and the cuts in education!”

Public military schools will not have their funding cut, since they are classified under the ministry of defense, not education.

These military schools are of immense importance to Bolsonaro, since they actively promote Brazilian nationalism and obedience to the government, while also providing foot soldiers for the ongoing repression of the Brazilian masses under the guise of “anti-crime” measures by the government. At the ceremony, he announced his intentions to implement a military high school in every state capital across the country.

Since then, demonstrations have flared up at public universities in several states, including Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Alagoas, Rondônia, and Paraná. These protests are the first wave of mass rejection of Bolsonaro’s fascist education policies and are leading up to the National Education Strike scheduled for May 15 which will include institutions from nearly every state in Brazil.

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Graffiti of the Popular Revolutionary Student Movement (MEPR) calling on the General Strike against the cuts of education funds and against the “reform” of Social Security in Rondônia

The protests within educational institutions are only one part of the mass discontent aimed at the fascist government of Bolsonaro. His attempts to attack the youth are paired with similar attacks on the elderly as part of his “reform” of social security, both issues will be at the forefront of mass mobilizations on the 15th, private security agencies are already warning of disruptions and violent clashes with police.

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Partial Translation: Students, teachers, and workers in unified general strike. Against the “reform” of Social Security! For the revocation of the labor “reform”! Against the cut of funds and dismantling of public education! May 15th… Participate! Fight in defense of labor rights!

As the masses rise up against Bolsonaro’s government, Communists are leading them in their conquest for power. Follow A Nova Democracia for an inside look at popular movements in Brazil.