Emergency declaration of the LER-QI

Brazil: Fire in Santa Maria: Another tragedy, a result of capitalist profit

February 02, 2013

By LER-QI, Brazil

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

With much sorrow and anger, we got the news that in the early morning this Sunday, January 27, around 245 young people died, and 110 were wounded, after a fire in a nightclub in the city of Santa Maria in Rio Grande do Sul. Many of the victims are students in the Federal University of Santa María (UFSM) and of other universities of the city. Another case that demonstrates the misery that capitalism and its insatiable spite for profit can offer young people. The facts and the stories of the witnesses do not leave the least doubt that tragedy could have been easily avoided, if the minimal criteria for safety had been adopted. Almost all the deaths were caused by suffocation or by trampling, and not by burns, which, according to the analysis by specialists, means that the people died because they were prevented from leaving the premises in time.

The story from the witnesses that were on the premises during the fire and survived, shows the extent of capitalist savagery. According to witnesses, when the fire began to spread, and people began to run, the security personnel of the nightclub locked the exit, to prevent people from leaving the bar without paying and to guarantee the night’s profits! An absurdity that cannot go unpunished!

The Kiss nightclub had a capacity of around 2,000 people, a number near that of those present at the time of the fire, and it had only one exit. With that arrangement, it is impossible to explain how the nightclub, that was one of the most traditional and well-known in the city of Santa Maria (that has fewer than 300,000 residents), managed to get a permit to function, that, among other things, requires a “plan to prevent and fight fires.†Even so, that permit had been expired since last August.

We all know that not only nightclubs, but also factories, schools and hospitals, whether public or private, function under dreadful safety and access conditions, and that they are exposed to this type of tragedy at all times. In all the cities of the country, the inspection agencies act in the interests of the mayors and city councillors, that use the permits as bargaining chips to get the support of businessmen during the elections. For that reason, we cannot accept condolences from gentlemen like the Mayor of Santa Maria, Cezar Schirmer (PMDB), and the Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Tarso Genro (PT). They are responsible, and they should be punished. Since it took the position, many years ago, of not only capitulating to the state and the bourgeoisie, but of governing the state directly in alliance with parties born and raised under coronelismoA [1] like the PMDB, the PT has taken on, as its own, the same behavior that the bourgeoisie has engaged in since its formation, in the factory, in the houses of the slaves, and in the slave ships: treating the lives of the workers and of the poor people of Brazil as disposable merchandise, in the service of its interests and profits! No more of the hypocrisy of Dilma and Lula, who, at every predictable tragedy, like the landslides that occur every year in the mountainous region of Rio de Janeiro and in the outlying regions of the entire country, show up to make false declarations of solidarity, when, in practice, their government is directly responsible for the dreadful safety conditions, whether in housing, at work, or in the places of relaxation.

They cancel their trips and call the press, in order to shed “crocodile tears†in front of the cameras, while the families remain with all the pain and sadness. Nothing is done until the next tragedy, and the demagogic scenes are repeated. Down with the impunity that prevails in all the cases of catastrophes against our class! We must demand immediate investigation and punishment of all those responsible! For the formation of a commission of investigation, independent of City Hall and state government, headed by unions, neighborhood associations, human rights organizations, a committee of relatives of the dead and injured, with complete freedom and democratic guarantees (access to the inquiries, expert opinions, testimonies, permits, documents, and proceedings of the City Hall and Civil Defense agencies)! Immediate dismissal of the Municipal Secretaries responsible, of the heads of the inspection agencies, and of Mayor Cezar Schirmer! Punishment for the owners of the nightclub!

We also demand the preparation and implementation of a public works plan to readapt public and private buildings to safety conditions established by workers and users, and the expropriation of the businesses and owners that fail to comply with these conditions! We express our complete solidarity with the relatives and friends of the victims! Let us transform our anger and outrage into energy to struggle against that murderous social structure; let us put an end to this sequence of predictable tragedies!