One million people in 170 cities protest education cuts; meanwhile President calls them “useful idiots” and meets with George W. Bush in Texas

CAPA

Note from BW of Brazil: The photos say it all! On May 15th, Brazilians in over 170 cities across the country took to the streets to voice their outrage against President Jair Bolsonaro‘s cuts to the education budget. On April 30th, Minister of Education Abraham Weintraub announced that there would be a 30% budget cut to federal universities, which is just the latest in a series of drastic actions that the new president has taken since taking office on January 30th. 

Looking at the hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and other cities, it’s clear that a percentage of those protesters are people who voted for the far-right wing PSL politician over six months ago. It would be interesting to know what some of those people are thinking right now. I wonder…

And what was Bolsonaro doing/saying while a reported million Brazilians were marching in the streets? He was on his second trip to the United States, where is presence wasn’t fully welcomed. Bolsonaro arrived in Dallas, Texas a few days ago to receive an award from the Brazil – United States Chamber of Commerce.

His plans were changed from New York to Texas when the mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, made it clear that he would not be welcome in America’s largest city. With news of the mayor’s position as well as protests in that city, Bozo Bolsonaro changed his plans to Texas, but even there, half of Dallas city councilors signed a letter against the proposed visit of the Brazilian leader. The letter stated that Bolsonaro’s visit would generate “profound disappointment” in the World Affairs Council of Dallas where the President was to receive a tribute as “Personality of the Year”.

But how did Bolsonaro react to news that Brazilians were marching in the hundreds of thousands back home? He referred to them as “useful idiots” among other insults. With such outrage and rejection of his policies, I find it fitting that perhaps the most important person that he met with upon arrival in Texas was another politician that wasn’t very popular, former US President George W. Bush.

bush-bolsonaro
Bolsonaro with former US President George W. Bush

Apparently, Bush wasn’t even expecting Bolsonaro’s visit but welcomed him anyway. It’s not clear what Bolsonaro and Bush discussed in an hour-long visit, but Bolsonaro divulged that the two expressed concern over the possible return of former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner. I’ll tell you what, as pissed as so many Brazilians are right now, maybe he should be worrying about his own return…

SP-Rio
Protests in São Paulo and Rio (right) brought an estimated 270,000 people to the streets. 250,000 in SP and 120,000 in RJ.

Bolsonaro on the wall: demonstrations return to the streets on May 30

By Ana Luiza Basilio

Brazilian unions confirm a general strike on June 14

Demonstrations against budget cuts in education will continue: a new stoppage is scheduled for May 30. The announcement was made by students who participated in the act on Wednesday, May 15, and confirmed by the National Union of Students (UNE) in their social networks. The movement will lead to a general strike on June 14, convened by CUT (Unified Workers’ Central, trade union center) and other Brazilian unions, which also set an agenda against the Social Security reform.

On the first day of the strike, all states and the Federal District registered demonstrations. More than 170 cities also joined the National Day of Education Defense. A partial balance of the organizers indicates that the national strike has mobilized up to now more than 1 million people in the whole country.

In São Paulo, protesters began the act in front of the Masp, on Avenida Paulista. According to UNE estimates, 250 thousand people participated in the demonstration. Many children were seen. Phrases like “The value of my research is not measured by chocolates” and the formula of water was stamped on the posters of the protesters. On a visit to the United States, President Bolsonaro disqualified the students who took to the streets in protest against the cuts in education.

“It’s natural, it’s natural. Now, the majority there are militants, they have nothing on their minds. If you ask how much 7×8 is, they don’t know. If you ask what the formula of water is, they don’t know. They are useful idiots, idiots who are being used as the maneuvering mass of a sly little minority that composes it and is the nucleus of many universities in Brazil,” he told reporters who were waiting for him outside a hotel in Dallas, Texas.

The movement also had strength in several other locations. In the capital city of Brasilia, demonstrators walked toward the Ministry of Education. Health students at the University of Brasilia (UNB), one of those accused of stirring up mischief by education minister Abraham Weintraub, made a volunteer assistance effort early on as a way to repudiate the statement and show the importance of university activities.

collage
Protesters included schoolchildren (top/bottom left), while many declared “Bolsonaro enemy of education”. Bottom right: protesters in the capital city of Brasília

In the state of Sergipe, students wore black clothes and staged a performance to signal their mourning for education in the current government. The city of Diamantina, in Minas Gerais state, held the greatest act of its history, according to UNE.

The date also reverberated abroad. A group of Brazilian students, professors and researchers living in Paris protested in front of the Cité Universitaire, a university residency center for foreign students who will conduct research in French institutions. Armed with colorful posters, the group signaled repudiation of budget cuts and concern about the future of overseas research grants.

Meanwhile, an inquiry…

As thousands took to the streets of the country against the measures announced for education, Minister Abraham Weintraub attended the Plenary of the Chamber of Deputies (Congress) to explain the ministry’s policies. He was questioned by parliamentarians of the opposition and of the governing base. The minister said that the contingency of funds transferred to universities is part of the financial security of the Bolsonaro government, which does not see an economic escalation at the pace it intended.

Commenting on the call from President Jair Bolsonaro, who would have asked to cancel the contingency as a result of the planned protests, Weintraub said that no one heard his version. “I said, ‘President, it’s not a cut, it’s contingency.’ It was a misunderstanding. I went there at night, talked to the president, I had already explained on the phone.”

➤ Headline: Callegari: “The project is the dismantling of public education”

The cuts proposed by the Ministry are widespread, despite having taken away the largest fraction from public universities. “Cleaning and security will only have problems starting in September,” said the minister when asked about the operations of universities.

The main argument used by Weintraub to explain other MEC policies was the defense of basic education. “We set out to comply with the government plan that was presented to the entire population during the campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, on social networks …

Throughout Wednesday, the hashtag # TsunamiDaEducação (tsuamni of education) was among the most talked about topics on Twitter. Check out some of the repercussions of the National Day of Education Defense.

  1. Marina Silva, former Minister of the Environment and former candidate for the Presidency of the Republic (Rede)

“People go to the streets in a democratic and peaceful way against cuts in education. The president calls them “useful idiots.” It only reinforces the need for more education, including for those who occupy the highest positions of the Republic.” #tsunamidaeducação #todospelaeducação (all for education)# 15m pic.twitter.com/Y6oUAxgJjl

– Marina Silva (@MarinaSilva) May 15, 2019

  1. Marcelo Freixo, professor of history and federal congressman for the PSOL of Rio de Janeiro

“When I see @jairbolsonaro attacking demonstrators, calling them “useful idiots,” I think of the useless idiots. Bolsonaro knows well, the government is full (of them) and the president is one of them.” # TsunamiDaEducation # TodosPelaEducação

– Marcelo Freixo (@MarceloFreixo) May 15, 2019

  1. Guilherme Boulos, professor, coordinator of MTST and the Frente Povo Sem Medo (Fearless People’s Front)

“Today was a historic day. Fear began to change sides in Brazil. Congratulations to all who took to the streets for Education, rights and respect.” # TsunamiDaEducation

– Guilherme Boulos (@GuilhermeBoulos) May 15, 2019

  1. David Miranda, the first LGBT city councilor of Rio de Janeiro

“While we are here in Congress, thousands of people take to the streets in Brazil. All united in defense of Education, against the authoritarianism and obscurantism of the Bolsonaro government!” #LevanteDosLivros #TsunamiDaEducação  pic.twitter.com/HvnM4SyhRn

– David Miranda (@davidmirandario) May 15, 2019

     5. Daniel Cara, coordinator of the National Campaign for the Right to Education

“The # 15M is victorious! More than 500 cities mobilized, including capitals. All the corners of Brazil manifested themselves with more than 1.5 million citizens in the streets. Today began the end of the pesadelo bolsonarista (Bolsonaro nightmare). Brazilian society reacted.” #TsunamiDaEducation

– Daniel Cara (@DanielCara) May 15, 2019

Source: Carta Capital

About Marques Travae 3169 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. First in his family to go to college, João's story is the human side of why Brazilians are protesting President's education cuts - OPMSTREAMS

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.