Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Students protest for public universities in Brazil

Students from the most important university in Brazil, the University of São Paulo, occupied the office of the head of the institution on May 3rd to protest against new policies announced by the governor of São Paulo's state, that threatened the autonomy of the state's public universities. São Paulo State is the most affluent and influential in Brazil, having three major public universities in the region: USP ( Universidade de São Paulo, or University of São Paulo), Unicamp (Universidade Estadual de Campinas, or State University of Campinas), and Unesp (Universidade Estadual Paulista, or São Paulo State University).

On that day students had an appointment with the Dean of the University . When no one showed up, they entered forcibly into the building and occupied the office. The actions began originally without the support of the voices of Brazil's student political movement — the National Student Union (UNE), the Brazilian High School Student Union (UBES) and the University of São Paulo Student Central Directory (DCE).

Let’s be realistic. Let’s do the impossible
Let's be realistic. Let's do the impossible, on a poster painted by students on USP's headoffice.

In 51 days of occupation the movement has grown beyond any expectation and has stimulated a general discussion in the press and among students all over the country. They started a blog to dialog with people outside the building — see http://ocupacaousp.noblogs.org. Many statements of support had come from students all over the world, including France, Spain, Argentina and USA. Some students and intellectuals said the movement is similar to the French riots held in Paris during May '68 when students went into the streets and started a new era of political meaning for these movements. At that time, Brazil was entering the dictatorship era that last for more than 20 years. Now, with a leftist party in power, maybe it's time to recoup the lost time. At least this is the sense of many posts published on the Brazilian blogosphere, like this one.

Estudantes insatisfeitos ocupam universidade exigindo contratação de mais professores, construção de mais salas de aula e reformas na gestão universitária. A reitoria chama a polícia que desaloja violentamente os manifestantes. Onde poderia se passar essa narrativa? Na USP destes dias? Neste caso, tratava-se da Sorbonne, em Paris, ocupada pelos estudantes em 3 de maio de 1968. Depois que foram expulsos manu militari pelo ministro Alain Peyrefitte no dia seguinte já se sabe o resultado: uma explosão de fúria juvenil e estudantil, uma onda de barricadas e o despertar de uma inteira geração para o sonho de transformar a realidade com a indignação justa dos jovens que resolveram combater a injustiça do mundo. Será este, de novo, o roteiro paulista e brasileiro de 2007? Começou uma “nova onda” na história do movimento estudantil brasileiro? Qual será o seu caráter, a sua amplitude e a sua profundidade?
Estar com os Estudantes ou Estar com a PolíciaBlog dos Estudantes que Ocupam a Reitoria da USP.

Dissatisfied students occupy the university asking for more professors, the construction of more class rooms and reforms in the university management. The rector calls the police who dislodge the protesters violently. Where could this narrative be happening? In present day USP? It happened, in this case, at the Sorbonne, in Paris, occupied by students on 3rd May of 1968. After they had been banished at the hand of the military by order of the minister Alain Peyrefitte. On the next day you already know the result: an explosion of youth and student fury, a wave of barricades and the awakening of an entire generation to the dream of transforming the reality with the righteous indignation of young people who had decided to fight against the injustice of the world. May it be again — the Paulistan and Brazilian script of 2007? Has this started a “new wave” of Brazilian student movement history? What will be the character, the amplitude and the depth?
To be with Students or to be with the PoliceBlog from students who occupy the USP's Headoffice/a>.

The police didn't come to remove the students. Consequently, other students began to occupy head offices elsewhere in São Paulo universities. The vice-director's office of Franca City's Unesp campus had been occupied on May 28th. Like the USP's students, they have started a blog, the http://ocupacaofranca.blogspot.com where they try to speak with other students and make an effort to pressure the university's board of directors. Students from the Rio Claro's Unesp campus have occupied buildings since May 24th and have started another blog: http://ocupacaorioclaro.blogspot.com. And students from Universidade Federal do Maranhão (UFMA), Universidade Federal de Santa Maria (UFSM), Universidade Federal de Alagoas (UFAL) and Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), as you can see on the video below.


Students run to occupy the headoffice of UFRGS on June 5th singing “At UNE? at UBES? Who says it has disappeared? Here is the Brazilian student movement”.A wiki site has been built discussing the movement. Additionally, even without occupations, a lot of courses from many universities are in strike protesting against governor's decrees as you see on another wiki called Caaso na Greve.One of the most interesting graffiti (in the picture below) made by USP students reveals how this movement has an appeal to all students in Brazil and how they are applying modern concepts of decentralization and civil disobedience, expanding a singular argument which finds resonance among varieties of personalities and political positions.

reitoria_s.jpg
Occupy the head office that exists inside of you
— a slogan used by Brazilian students painted on USP's walls

Alguns jovens e adultos da minha geração com certeza se lembrarão da frase acima, mesmo daqui algum tempo.
Goiabs - ocupe a reitoria que há dentro de você

Some youth and adults from my generation certainly will remember this phrase, even after some time.
Goiabs - Occupy the head office that exists inside of you

The term “occupy” certainly gained a expanded meaning since then. In May, cyclists manifested the Bike Month Critical Mass in São Paulo. Luddista, from the blog “apocalipse motorizado” has published a post called “Occupying the streets”. In São Paulo, the critical mass event ended up at the occupied USP's headoffice:

Depois da visita ficou apenas uma certeza: a mídia mente. Ao contrário do sensacionalismo dos “grandes” veículos, que tentam caracterizar os ocupantes como vândalos baderneiros, o que vimos por lá foi muita organização, criatividade, discussão política e convivência entre as pessoas. No interior do prédio nada foi quebrado ou depredado como afirmam os conglomerados de mídia de massa, ansiosos por um desfecho violento que possibilite o terrorismo midiático das tradicionais matérias sobre o “confronto com a PM”. Mostrar a violência para impedir a discussão. Felizmente, não é esse o clima na USP. Atendendo ao pedido dos ocupantes, que temem ser criminalizados por sua ação de desobediência civil, não tiramos fotos no interior da ocupação. Se quiser saber mais sobre o assunto, desligue a televisão (aliás, você ainda se informa pela tevê?!) e visite o blog da ocupação ou o centro de mídia independente.
apocalipse motorizadoBicicletada de maio: ocupando as ruas

After the visit there is only one certainty — the media lies. Congtrary to the sensationalism of “mass media” groups, who try to characterize the occupants as barbarians, we saw was a lot of organization, creativity, political discussion and coexistence among people. Inside the building nothing had been broken or destroyed, as the mass media conglomerate said. It desires a violent ending which justifies the media's terrorism in its habitual reports about the “confrontations with police”, showing violence in order to hinder discussion. Happily, this is not the mood at USP. But we didn't take photos inside the occupation, supportive of the occupants’ request, who fear being charged with acts of civil disobedience. If you want to know more, turn off the television (by the way, are you still used to be informed by TV?!) and visit the occupation's blog or the independent media center.
apocalipse motorizadoBicicletada de maio: ocupando as ruas

40 years later, nothing more binds us (40 anos depois, nada ++++ nos UNE)The movement has provoked an overturning of the student political establishment in Brazil. Historically, UNE was the most powerful entity representing students. Governor José Serra was UNE's president when the military assaulted Brazil, in 1964, and he had gone to exile after that. Now, as a governor, he let the USP's head office beg for the Court to restore order to the building, which means calling the cops to take the students out. UNE waited too long to declare either for or against the movement and now it tries to participate. But they no longer have support like 40 years ago, as we can see in a poster on USP's walls, in a photo taken by Gustavo Suto saying: “After 40 year, nothing more binds us” with the governor's picture taken when he was testing the new firearms of São Paulo's police force. [Detail: in Portuguese, “une” means bind.] You can see more photos of the USP's occupation at Flickr.

On today's evening, June 22th, the students reached an agreement with USP's Dean and left the office, without the intervention of the police.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.