November 5, 2011

There will be a fight against the return of the “Years of Terror.” (Editor’s note: This is what the most repressive period of Brazil’s 1964-1985 dictatorship is called).

On Sunday, October 28, about 30% of Brazilian voters elected Jair Bolsonaro the president of Brazil. Among the valid votes, Bolsonaro won about 55% and the oppositional candidate Fernando Haddad won 45%. However, there was a high percentage of abstentions and null votes.
  During the campaign, Bolsonaro did not present any consistent program of government, but through social media and sporadic pronouncements, he made it explicit that he would govern under the aegis of neofascism. This is different from traditional Fascism, since we do not live in the 1930s and 1940s. However, this neofascism has an extreme right-wing character. Beyond its racism, machismo, xenophobia and LGBT-phobia, this neofascism represents an attack on human rights as Bolsonaro proposes to immediately designate social movements as terrorists, most notably the landless and homeless movements. This is also clearly a neoliberal economic project, as Bolsonaro has already chosen neoliberal economist Paulo Guedes as the Minister of a new Ministry of the Economy, promising to push forward social security reform and the end the “social democratic bias” in Brazil.
In the field of education, in the first week after the election, in agreement with lame duck President Michel Temer, Bolsonaro declared that the proposal "Schools without Political Parties" would be debated in the National Congress. This proposal, under the guise of getting rid of “ideological education,” proposes to punish teachers who are supposedly indoctrinating students. Related to this, a week before the election in several states, civilian and military police invaded the public universities, removing banners that expressed a critique of fascism, on the grounds that they were disobeying the electoral law.
Shortly after the election results were announced, in Santa Catarina, plainclothes police officers interrupted a teaching assembly, with no judicial mandate, on the grounds that they would supervise the assembly—a clear violation of the free right to organize.
A day after the election process, the newly-elected state congresswomen in Santa Catarina, Ana Carolina Campagnolo, a member of Bolsonaro’s party (PSL), took another action. Campagnolo created an informal channel of denunciations on the internet for students to submit complaints against teachers who critique the outcome of the election in a classroom. Immediately afterwards, there was a meeting between the Santa Catarina Teachers Union (SINTE) and the state Secretary of Education. Both denounced the action and the union asked the State Public Prosecutor to issue a lawsuit against the congresswomen. Relatedly, one of the “attributes” that the congresswomen had campaigned on was that when she was a graduate student her advisor had rejected her thesis due to conceptual errors, which led her to take judicial actions against her advisor. On November 1, the state Public Ministry declared that Campagnolo had to take her publication about denouncing teachers down from social media.
That same day, on November 1, a news item circulated on social networks, annoucing the dismissal of a history teacher at a private school in São Paulo (Liceu Jardim Santo André), which was motivated by the parents of a student who read about her opinions of the elections on her personal website. The school denied that this was the reason for her dismissal and issued a statement to "make clear that it is not the practice of our school management to engage in any kind of censorship and patrolling." Nonetheless, as one source notes, the teacher’s firing was "to everyone's surprise, stating that in light of the outcome of the elections she would not be able to continue with his teaching activities . . .  although she still has nine classes to be taught."
Similar events had already occurred in another school in São Paulo before the election. One teacher was fired after accusations by parents of "indoctrination" for having showed the film "Baptism of Blood" by Helvécio Ratton, about the resistance of Dominican friars (among them the brothers Beto and Tito) to the business-military dictatorship that took place in Brazil. Fortunately, in this case the teacher was reappointed, to the applause of the students.
The organized social movements in Brazil, both popular movements and unions, have begun to organize to stop the neofascist impetus of the Bolsonaro government. Union and student organizations throughout Brazil are already mobilizing to stop the regressions that will come from the election of an army captain, notably conservative, whose main idol was a torturer during the Brazilian dictatorship.

By Luiz Carlos de Freitas, Municipal Teachers Unions of São Paulo (SINPEEM)
Translation by Rebecca Tarlau

Photo: Protest against Bolsonaro on Paulista Avenue on October 31, three days after the election, organized by the People Without Fear Front. Photo credit: Idalina Freitas.