brazilian students face police brutality as they occupy schools to protest budget cuts

November 7, 2016

Brothers and Sisters,

As you might know by now, we live in a non-democratic state since the elected president was taken out of power by a coup last August, in Brazil. It was a parliamentary coup, with full support from the Supreme Court that ousted President Dilma Roussef. In 2014 we elected Roussef for presidency, although her party had kept an incestuous alliance with PMDB (a conservative party), it was better than the alternative, Aecio Neves, whose name was recently involved in the apprehension of a helicopter carried with 450kg of pure cocaine in 2014. I think you Americans can relate.

After the coup, the illegitimate president, Dilma’s vice-president Michel Temer, assumed and nominated an all white-old-rich-men government. No women, no black or indigenous people, no place for any diversity at all. He immediately extinguished the ministries of culture, human rights and racial and gender equality. It is a totally conservative government now, different from the political project 54 million of people elected, who has been responsible for bringing back our worst memories of military dictatorship mixed with the worst of neoliberal agenda from the ‘90.

By Lorena Duarte, AFROPUNK contributor

There is a bill project (PEC 55) being voted that predicts the freezing of public budget for no less than 20 years! That means that for the next 20 years, federal government will spend the same amount of money as in 2016. That’s scary. Add to that the fact that we have just discovered new sources of oil, which means: where will all that money go for the next 20 years? Media has made people think it is a necessary measure, because of the economic crisis (which is exclusively fault of Dilma’s party, the Labour Party, according to them, and not a worldwide crisis). The truth, though, is: for the first time in over ten years we don’t have supervise in our national accounts, but the deficit, according to our Central Bank is the amount of R$188,3 bi (around U$5,7 billion), which represents only 3,08% of our gross domestic product. Our real problem is another one: over 41% of our GDP goes to pay for international debt interest. We demand the audit of debt, government demand us to “Forget about crisis and work” (first words of the illegitimate president when assumed the power).

As a form of resistance, millions of teenage students have occupied public schools all over the country. It actually started in 2015 when the government of the state of São Paulo decided to close over 100 public schools, but now it is a national movement against president Temer and his measures. There are over one thousand public schools occupied right now all over the country and the count is increasing, but media has made complete silence about it. Now universities are being occupied as well. Last Monday, a judge in Brasília-DF, our capital, decided that the police was allowed to use torture techniques to vacate the schools, such as: deprive children of food, water, electricity, contact with their parents and SLEEP. The police should keep continuous and loud noise outside the buildings until the children and teenagers leave them. CIA invented that last one and taught our police force. Today, we woke up with some more bad news. Police forces in São Paulo, Bahia e Paraná are not even soliciting warrants anymore. They are jumping over the occupied schools walls, armed to the teeth with lethal guns and shooting against children and teenagers. We have pictures and videos. Mainstream media does not report any of this and we depend now on international alternative media to make people know what’s going on here.

The occupied schools are mostly public. That means that most of the children who go there are poor or middle-class. In Brazil, that means that most of these students are black and brown—making it even more dangerous since one young black person is killed in Brazil every 23 minutes. While I wrote this down, two brothers or sisters were murdered. In Brazil now we resist a civil-media-judiciary-police dictatorship. We resist because on that depends our entire lives, our work and now our children. We resist because there’s no other way against a conservative, racist, misogynist regime. We have a long way ahead, and we can use all the help we get.

As a friend, who is a great poet, wrote: “Black is the color of love. But if we need to, black is the color of fight!”