Back to the streets

Brazil's student movement plans bigger rallies for May 30: “Struggle has just begun”

After strike on May 15, movements organize a second day of nationwide protests in defense of public education in Brazil

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Massive walkout in Brasília on May 15 to protest the education budget cuts announced by the government / Rafael Tatemoto/BdF

After celebrating the impact of last Wednesday's demonstrations, when more than one million people took to the streets in nearly 200 Brazilian cities, Brazil’s student movement is working toward the goal of expanding the mobilization for upcoming protests.

On Thursday, the Brazilian Union of Secondary School Students (Ubes), the National Union of Students (UNE), and the National Association of Graduate Students (ANPG) have called people to join the Second National Day in Defense of Education on May 30.

The central demand of the protests will be, once again, to reject the 30-percent budget cut for public education announced by the Jair Bolsonaro administration.

Marianna Dias, the president of the UNE, said that this week’s walkout staged by all federal university and institutes was a “historical day” and a “victory” that will be remembered as “one of the biggest demonstrations” in Brazil’s recent history.

“We call for another day of nationwide demonstrations to show that our struggle has just begun, that it will continue until we achieve our goal, which is to overturn the cuts. We have strength,” Dias pointed out.

Matias Cardomingo, a master’s student in economics and the coordinator of the Association of Graduate Students of the University of São Paulo (USP), explained that researchers will hold a number of activities over the following weeks so that the university take on a new significance with the public opinion, invigorating “the relationship between the academy and society,” in an effort to do it beyond the demonstrations.

The idea is to bring together the common sense of “defending education” with the actual struggle of education institutions that are being targeted by the government, both financially and politically.

“What we’ve seen is that education is a matter that is moving society in a broader sense. We will start some moves to take the research that is conducted here to public schools, and also start to organize caravan tours so that people get to know the USP,” he explains.

While the student movement's initiatives to bring the demands for education closer to students and families of faculty are fueling demonstrations, Bolsonaro’s comments about the protests are having a similar effect. On Thursday, government allies admitted to the press that they fear the president’s use of the words “useful idiots” and “morons” to refer to protesters could generate a massive backlash, boosting people’s support for the movement.

Edition: Daniel Giovanaz | Translated by Aline Scátola