Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Over a Million Brazilians Strike, Protest Against Bolsonaro’s Cuts to Education

Over a million people took the streets against Bolsonaro and his proposed cuts to education.

Esquerda Diário

May 16, 2019
Facebook Twitter Share
Photo by Maira Cabral / @estudantesninja. Mobilization in Belo Horizonte

“Bolsonaro, go fuck yourself. The youth aren’t scared of you!”

Similar chants echoed in the streets of over 200 Brazilian cities as students led the country’s first mass mobilizations against “the Trump of the Tropics”, ultra-right wing Jair Bolsonaro. Organizers estimate over a million people were in the streets yesterday.

Students and teachers at universities and public schools across Brazil organized a nationwide strike to protest the Bolsonaro government’s 30% cut to the education budget. These strikes, organized by 50 trade and student unions across the country, represent the first national strike since the election of President Bolsonaro in 2018.

Since taking office in January, the far-right president has undertaken a crusade against what he calls “cultural Marxism” in Brazilian education. With the slogan “defeat leftism,” the Education Minister announced a 30% reduction in university funding, targeting a sector that was especially active in opposing the coup government of former president Michel Temer. Bolsonaro’s attacks are meant to punish and isolate his political opponents and to stop students and teachers from playing a crucial role in leading any further struggles against further austerity policies, especially the pension reform.

Wednesday’s strikes were by far the biggest since students at Pedro II high school first took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro on May 6 to demonstrate against what they call the “persecution of critical thinking” and steps by the government to “militarize schools” which, they argue, undermine their autonomy.

Photo by Karina Zambrana of the mobilization in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil.

Mobilizations and assemblies have been especially large in the major cities of south and central Brazil, where Bolsonaro won a majority of votes in 2018. Along with public schools and universities, dozens of private schools in São Paulo have also joined the cause. According to the union that represents private school teachers, 25 private schools in the city were expected to suspend their activities partially or wholly, with teachers and students joining the mobilizations. In the University of Sao Paulo, students representing dozens of undergraduate programs also voted to suspend activities and join the demonstrations. There, like in many cities across the country, students picketed their university in the morning before joining the 40,000+ protest in the afternoon. At one of the country’s most elite public universities, the University of Sao Paulo, students united with the non-teaching staff for the morning picket. In Santos, a smaller city outside of Sao Paulo, oil workers joined the mobilization, speaking out against the privatization of Petrobras.

Protestors chanted “education is not a commodity” and “there will be no cuts, there will be fight” and in Rio de Janeiro, spoke out against the police brutality that is all too common in the militarized city.

Brazilian media calls this “the end of Bolsonaro’s honeymoon” with Brazilian society. These protests were organized despite the actions of union leadership, which have failed to mobilize against pension reform and other policies and delayed taking action until June.

Bolsonaro, who was at a gala dinner in Dallas, Texas said, They [the protesters] are useful idiots, imbeciles, who are being used as the maneuvering mass of a clever little minority who make up the nucleus of many federal universities in Brazil.”

“Defeat the cuts, pension reform and Bolsonaro! The capitalists should pay for the crisis.”

Left Voice spoke to Marcelo Pablito who represents the non-teaching staff of the University of Sao Paulo and the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement, who argued that the events of Wednesday are just the beginning. “May 15 will be the start of a tireless fight, with assemblies, committees of the rank and file, and regional meetings to coordinate a plan of action to defeat Bolsonaro.” He, and the signs held by the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement called for a unified struggle against the education budget cuts and the pension reform law.

Pablito added that they must not entrust the struggle against Bolsonaro’s measures to the bureaucratic labor leaderships controlled by the Workers Party, who upheld a “truce” with the government. “It is urgent that we build a single national delegation, elected by the rank-and-file, beginning with students who are now the vanguard of the movement. It is fundamental that we unify the student and labor movements of all industries and branches of production.”

Over 100,000 people took the streets in Rio de Janeiro.
Facebook Twitter Share

Latin America

Under Xiomara Castro’s Government, the Garífunas in Honduras Still Await Answers in the Struggle for Their Land

The Garífunas in Honduras persist in their struggle for their ancestral lands, while eviction attempts and threats against their leaders continue. Almost 10 months into Xiomara Castro’s administration, her campaign promises to the Garífuna communities remain unfulfilled.

Marisela Trevin

November 19, 2022
Argentina's Party of Socialist Workers (PTS) holds an assembly for workers to discuss working-class solutions to Argentina's crisses.

Thousands of Workers and Young People Participate in Socialist-led Assemblies across Argentina

Last weekend, the Party for Socialist Workers (PTS) in Argentina held over 100 democratic and open assemblies in cities and towns across the country to debate the inflationary crisis, government’s the austerity program, and a working-class solution.

Robert Belano

November 15, 2022
Jair Bolsonaro pictured on election day. Wearing a yellow Brazil shirt and smiling.

Bolsonarism Will Not Be Defeated in Brazil without Organizing Independently of the Lula Government

Lula won by a narrow margin in yesterday’s elections in Brazil, but his government is unwilling to truly challenge the Right’s advance. A Brazilian socialist describes the fight ahead for the country's workers and Left.

André Barbieri

October 31, 2022

Fascism or Bonapartism? Lessons from Trotsky for Understanding Brazil Under Bolsonaro

Is genuine fascism rising in Brazil? How should the working class respond if so? Marxism helps us to characterize the Bolsonaro government and spells out the method for confronting the extreme Right.

André Barbieri

October 29, 2022

MOST RECENT

The Roots of the Rebellion at Foxconn

Jenny Chan is a researcher and professor at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. She is co-author of the book Dying for an iPhone. She spoke with La Izquerda Diario about the causes of the rebellion by workers at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China.

Josefina L. Martínez

December 7, 2022
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa in a suit

“Farmgate” Threatens the Very Foundations of Capitalist Stability in South Africa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa faces an impeachment vote Tuesday. More than a simple case of corruption, it’s a political crisis of the ruling party and of capitalist stability in the country.

Sam Carliner

December 5, 2022

Understanding the Carnage at Colorado Springs

The heinous violence displayed in Colorado Springs is a stark reminder of the menacing, lethal threat that today’s determined far right continues to pose to trans and queer people, and anyone living outside capitalism’s imposed sexual and gender boundaries.

Keegan O'Brien

December 4, 2022
Mapuche people standing with a flag

The Case of the Mapuche: What Can Trotsky Teach Us about the Fight against National Oppression?

Trotsky’s reflections on the social aspect of permanent revolution have deep implications for building working-class hegemony through solidarity with oppressed peoples.

Juan Valenzuela

December 4, 2022