[BRAZIL] “A ESCOLA É NOSSA” [The school is ours”]: high school students struggle in Brazil

Theo Louzada, Juntos! Organizer

Today in Brazil we live a special movement: with about a thousand schools and more than one hundred universities occupied, we recently got to the beginning of the process of nationalization of the occupations started in São Paulo last year. The radicalization of the secondary struggle, much from the example given by the great demonstrations of June 2013, sought a new way to guide our demands and give a new dynamic to the whole struggle of the country’s social movements. Through occupations, we achieved real victories against governments of the big bourgeoisie, as the most exemplary case of the defeat of the project of closing schools in São Paulo by the governor of PSDB, Geraldo Alckmin or, in Rio de Janeiro, the commitment to direct elections for directors and 15 thousand reais for emergency building works in each school in Rio de Janeiro against the precarious plan of education in the State by the PMDB government. Other states also had great achievements such as the case of Rio Grande do Sul that has prevented a censorship project in schools to be voted until 2017.

In the last months, however, the struggle took on a new character, no longer based on the local reality of each educational system, but from a pattern and articulation at the national level. Since its arrival in power, the federal government of Michel Temer has intensified its attacks on social areas, with a special emphasis on education – the Proposal for Constitutional Amendment number 241/55, which imposes a freeze on health and education expenditures for 20 years and the new educational reform that eliminates classes such as sociology, philosophy, arts and physical education are clear examples of how PMDB’s management vision for the education sector is and why students have understood the need to fight and radicalize the occupation process. These measures, added to the realities of the states that had the most advanced struggle, especially in Paraná, Minas Gerais and the Federal District, could give the dynamics of the student struggle and the process of taking a new dimension, both in number of occupied schools as much in the amplitude of states and cities with schools taken.

The reality of the student mobilization strenght and its support in society forced the government to give their answers both through hard repression – from the police, as in the case of the State of Paraná – to the cancellation of the national admission exam [Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio – ENEM] in occupied schools and, in particular, the articulation of right-wing and far-right movements to remove students from school by force – as well as backing away from some of their measures, such as the change in the legislative character of the Temer Reform from a provisional measure to a bill, which allows more time and discussion before its vote in the congress. These responses were only possible for one reason – nationalized occupations and all other forms of resistance are giving a new dynamic of social mobilizations in Brazil and have the capacity, for the first time since the rise of PMDB power at the federal level, to constrict and achieve victories over the government of Michel Temer and, with this, inaugurate a new cycle of resistance against its anti-popular and neo-liberal measures.

For this reason, the mobilization of the Brazilian high school students, who are today the vanguard of the struggle against the government, can be followed as an example to the social sectors of the whole country. Government measures affect the whole working class, from the small farmer to the health servant, and from the path that the school and university students created a struggle capable of defeating this government and its entire agenda of privatization and precarization can be achieved .

 

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