Source: Brasil De Fato / The Dawn News / November 5, 2016 / Photo Credit: José Eduardo Bernardes
The soccer court of the Florestan Fernandes National School (ENFF), located in Guararema-Sao Paulo, was filled by popular movements during the act in solidarity with the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), last Saturday 5. The mobilization was a response to the police repression suffered last Friday, November 4, at the School.
Former President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was present, as well as Senator Lindbergh Farias (Workers’ Party) and federal Deputy Iván Valente (PSOL): both of them spoke in defense of the MST and rejected the human rights violations that are being committed by the current government of Brazil. Some of the popular movements, organizations and unions that were present were militants of the Popular Uprising of the Youth, the National Union of Students, the Teachers’ Union of Sao Paulo and the Corinthians Democracy Collective.
Representatives of organizations from 36 countries around the world also participated in the event, including South Africa, Egypt, Ghana, India, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and Palestine –representatives of the latter two countries were received a standing ovation. The event started at 3 p.m. with artistic and musical performances from members of the MST and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).
Rosana Fernandes, who is a part of the National Leadership of the MST and the coordination of the Florestan Fernandes National School, opened the event. “Apart from sending our solidarity, we are here to say that the working class is alive. In this place full of symbolism, we reaffirm our commitment and we state once again that we will resist, with hope and in solidarity with a bigger cause: the liberation of the working class”.
During the last speech, former President Lula da Silva recalled the funeral of Brazilian intellectual and politician Florestan Fernandes, whom the school is named after, and referered to police violence. “I remember that during his funeral I received the news about the Massacre at Vila Columbaria, where 11 MST protesters were killed. We travelled there to see what had happened. I thought that the times in which we had to travel around Brazil to attend acts of solidarity with victims of a tragedy were over”.
Lula also talked about the importance of the unity of popular movements, given the current political context. “I came here to bring my solidarity and to try to debate with you about what’s happening in Brazil, which is very serious (…). Strange things started happening right after Brazil began to reveal itself as a major international player…. It was right after the moment this country stood up and said ‘we exist’. In this regard, we have an important debt to the African people and we can’t look at Europe without thinking about Africa too”, he said.
Senator Lindbergh Farias started his intervention by affirming that he also believes in the unity of popular movements. “This was not an isolated event, and we are not living under a rule of law. This is a coup against our people, a coup that uses repression against every social mobilization, attacks and criminalizes social movements such as the Workers’ Party, and persecutes leaders like Lula. We have a selective justice system, that persecutes organizations and popular parties. This is much more than an act of solidarity, this is an act of courage. We will not back down, we will resist neoliberalism”, he affirmed.
Federal Deputy Ivan Valente also expressed his indignation regarding police repression. “This act, and what happened yesterday, shows that we are living a very serious moment in the Brazilian politics. The right had the nerve to attacka symbol of the resistance against the military dictatorship and a symbol of the agrarian reform. We won’t accept repression in Brazil. We will fight with our heads held high”.
Jandyra Uehara, national Secretary of social and Human Rights policies of the Central Union of Workers (CUT) also questioned existence of a rule of law in Brazilian democracy, and defended a permanent mobilization of popular movements. “We are under a state of emergency and I have no doubt that we need to defend our organizations. We need to exercise a day-to-day solidarity and a collective work. The rally convened for November 10 will be very important to make it clear once again that we will never accept this setback. We need a plan of action for a ‘Red November’. We are alive and we will resist”.
The removed President Dilma Rousseff was one of the many people who sent their solidarity to the MST after the events of Friday November 4, 2016. “The setback experienced by Brazil is terrifying. It started with the Coup and it continued with the creation of the State of Emergency in the country. The raid to the Florestan Fernandes National School, which is linked to the MST, sets a dangerous precedent. We should not allow police repression with gunshots and lethal threats, especially when it happens at a School. We can’t accept the criminalization of the MST. We should not be silent when facing the banalization of State violence against anyone”, she affirmed in an article.
The event ended with the speeches of other popular leaders and the singing of the MST anthem, which resounded on the occupied streets.