Brazil: University of Sao Paulo

Students organize a mass struggle against the police

November 12, 2011

By Bruno Gilga, Social Sciences student and LER-QI militant

Since the beginning of the semester, the military police have been a daily presence in the University of Sao Paulo (USP). They are acting with an agreement with the Rector’s Office, defended by the academic bureaucracy with the argument that they "are watching over" the safety of the students and the whole academic community, using the death of a student in an assault inside the USP some months ago as a pretext. At this time, hundreds of students are occupying the Rector’s Office, in a struggle against the police presence, as part of a struggle that began after three students were threatened with prison, from the accusation they were smoking marijuana in the Department of Philosophy and Human Sciences (FFLCH).

Police repression at the service of the "University of excellence"

The Rector, João G. Rodas, specified by the PSDB government to privatize the USP, stands out for using methods from the dictatorship. He is preventing the free demonstration of students, Professors and workers, and now he is imposing free access of the military police to the University, for his plan of a "University of excellence," based on making work precarious and turning the University into an elite institution. On Thursday, October 27, students responded to the threat of prison for three students, with an offensive. Almost 1,000 students got together to resist, when the FFLCH was surrounded by several police cars. The student bureaucracy, the PSOL, that leads the Central Student Board (DCE) carried out the "role of police" in the movement, by "escorting" the students to the police car that we wanted to expel. They led one of the biggest betrayals of the student movement: a cordon of militants from the PSOL, Sandra Nitrini (Director of the FFLCH) handing the students over to the police. We students condemned the DCE, we engaged in mass resistance and expelled the police from the Department. The police, who responded with brutal repression, had to leave, when we students paid them back for the attack with sticks and stones. With more than 500 students, we approved the occupation of the FFLCH, demanding: Cops Out!, Against the persecution and the administrative and criminal trials of students and workers! and Unconditional support for the strike of the workers of UNICAMP! and Against the expulsion of the Black Consciousness Center from the USP! The DCE (PSOL) succeeded in putting into practice its treacherous policy against the occupation, acting in alliance with the PSTU.

Shameful role of the PSOL and the PSTU

Repression in the USP, followed by the occupation of the FFLCH, became a national fact. At the beginning of the week, we, thousands of students, seized the streets in University City, and we blocked the entrance to the University, demanding the withdrawal of the police. The PSOL and the PSTU joined together, seeking to reposition themselves, while they were sealing an agreement to put an end to the occupation. In a general assembly with over 1,000 students, on November 1, they prepared the maneuver of only approving leaving the premises, without winning a single demand. The PSOL and the PSTU openly carried out the role of scabs, and, with that aim, got a small margin in favor of ending the occupation, 559 votes against 458 of us who wanted to continue it. It is a matter of discussing strategies in the student movement. These leaderships go on presenting themselves as a "moderate left." It was not enough for them to hand the students over to the police; they organized a maneuver to stamp out the movement, with the aim of guaranteeing the calendar of student elections outside of the process of struggle. The PSTU, with a policy of tailing the PSOL, showed up, coordinating this maneuver, proving once more that it is not a party for intervening in the processes of class struggle and the struggle of the youth. It must be said that both parties consider the police to be a part of the working class and have a program of reform for this murderous police force, and not of an intransigent fight for their leaving the USP and all the poor neighborhoods and the favelas. At this time, for example, they want to begin the discussion that "security" is needed in the University, to divert the fight against the police.

Combative students are holding their ground against the Military Police, and they are occupying the USP Rector’s Office

To give continuity to the struggle, the combative students set up the assembly again, unanimously approving the occupation of the Rector’s Office. While important intellectuals like USP Professors Francisco de Olivera and Luiz Renato Martins, came to support the occupation, those tendencies are turning their backs on the students in struggle and on the need to expel the police, preserving the status quo to guarantee their participation in the student elections. The unity of the combative students with the Sintusp union and intellectuals against that project of the University, will put the student bureaucracy in its place, by opening up a new road of struggle against the repressive plan of the Rector’s Office and the elitist and racist project that it represents. From the LER-QI, as a revolutionary wing of the Sintusp union and with our young people, we are actively participating in this process with a strategy that condemns the University’s power structure, demanding the dissolution of the University Council, the end of the entrance examination, Military Police Get Out, and a non-corporate content that will show that the combative students want to be the voice of the poor and working-class population, that suffers extremely from police repression. A strategy of opening up the struggle to everyone, radicalizing the methods of struggle and winning allies, in a direct fight against the student bureaucracy, to defeat the project of the Rector’s Office and the Sao Paulo state government.

Military police, out of the USP!

Down with the agreement between the USP and the military police!

Police out of the university, the peripheries and favelas!

November 2, 2011