The attacks on teachers in Parana, Brazil, are just the latest revelation of the true face of neo-liberalism, as it lays in to public services and in particular education.
As we reported on Friday, teachers in the state were protesting about a major attack on their already small pension entitlements. 20,000 of them marched to the legislature in Curitiba, where the vote was taking place, which would mean that they had to contribute to the pension pot. In February when deep cuts to the education budget had been proposed, teachers and other civil servants occupied the parliament building and the cuts were reversed.
The governor of the province, Beto Richa, had learned his lesson and deployed hundreds of military police to stop the teachers from entering the building. As a result the vote went through by 31 votes to 20, untroubled by the voices of teachers raised in protest. Meanwhile outside the building teachers were being violently attacked with rubber bullets, dogs, pepper spray and tear gas, leaving up to 300 people injured, 15 of them seriously. The video above, Never Forget! which has been put together by teacher activists, shows graphically the level of violence meted out to teachers and their supporters and the outrage felt at the naked aggression of Beto Richa and his allies.
Even Forbes magazine, the US journal of big business, described the scenes in its headline as: 'Teachers get a lesson in police brutality.' The report goes on to point out that Parana is one of the richest states in Brazil, while the teachers are 'woefully underpaid'. The pension attacks will save the state $500 million and will affect retired teachers as well as those having to pay contributions.
In the video one teacher shouts to the police: 'The governor and the deputies studied in private schools, your children study in public schools they are my students. I do not teach your children to steal like the deputies do.' This attack on teachers in Brazil sees the mask slipping from neo-liberal education reform. In pursuing their goal of destroying public education, turning it into a source of profit and a quiescent workforce, they are determined to deal with what they see as the main 'block' to their project - teachers and their unions.