15-O IN BRAZIL: AN EXTENDED SPRING

The protests of 15-O around Brazil.

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Manifestations in Portugal. Photo: FIEQUIMETAL (Interunion Federation of Matellurgic, Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Electrical, Energy and Mines Industries from Portugal)

According to the website 15october.net, platform that befronted the global mobilisation 15-O and which many testimonials from all over the world converged to, on 15 of October of the year that began with the “Arab Spring” and acknowledged los dignados take the streets, mobilisations took place in 951 cities in 81 countries, mainly in America and Europe. In some of them, dozens and even hundreds of thousands of people went to the streets, as in Madrid, the epicentre and origin of the first summonings to global manifestation. In other cities, hundreds or dozens of people occupied squares, streets and public roads to mark their adhesion to the call from those who decided to take to the streets and squares their wrath.

The call for the 15 of October (15-O), under the motto of “united for global change”, was done by movement Real Democracy Now, which integrated the landslide of mobilisations against the “austerity measures”, as are called the restrictions measures over citizens’ rights imposed by the neoliberal booklets from international financial organisms, triggered in Spain in May of this year. Movement 15-M (in reference to the day of the first mobilisations in the country, the 15th of May) counted in that very month with the support of several places around the world and began to articulate a bigger mobilisation, with a global character, for October.

Facing obvious continuity of the crisis of the capitalist system and the inability of states to conciliate the maintenance of such a system with people’s welfare, there have been more mobilisations around the world since then. Among others, strikes in Greece, student protests in Chile against impoverishment of the educational system, rebellion of London’s poor neighbourhoods’ youngsters, besides manifestations with high repression and deaths in Syria, in Bahrain and the unfolding of civil war in Libya. High adhesion to 15-O was propelled as well by another recent mobilisation, which started on 17 of September – Occupy Wall Street, which has already assembled thousands of people at the heart of the global financial system in spite of restrictions imposed over the movement, ironically in the same country that has declared more wars than anyone in defence of “freedom” and “democracy” beyond their own borders.

The differences between Tahrir Sqaure in Cairo (as in the other Arab Rebellions) and Syntagma square, in Athens, Puerta del Sol, in Madrid, or New York’s Time Square also engrave the resemblance between mobilisations that emerged and will still emerge around the world in 2011: democracy, freedom, participation – that is, everything for which the Arab peoples were and are fighting for – have become historic consensus, they are unforfeitable values and, at least theoretically, they are still in force. Yet, the name of one of the movements and the cry of order that have mobilised people in many countries – real democracy now – reflects the connexion between both events: dissatisfaction with submission, be it to the whims of dictators or to the dictatorship of free market.

Freedom and democracy, principles that seemed to have discovered in capitalism their single alternative for realisation since the fall of the Berlin Wall, find in capitalism itself the very limitation for their fulfilment.

Despite the differences in character and in claims attached to the manifestations in several countries, attendance to 15-O was gigantic in many cities in the world: more than 18,000 people on Times Square, about 200,000 people in Rome, where there was confrontation with the police, about half a million in Madrid, 350,000 in Barcelona, many more thousands in London, Berlin, Brussels, Munich, Athens, Compostela, Corunna, Lisbon, Oporto, besides hundreds of other people in many more cities.

In Brazil, mobilisations linked to the global movement were scheduled in many cities. To follow 15-O in the country, we asked people who took part in it and helped to build it in some Brazilian cities. We compile here the reports so that our readers can see the bigger picture of the mobilisation in Brazil.

SANTA MARIA (RIO GRANDE DO SUL)

15-O/Santa Maria. Photo: Priscila Ferreira.

If possible, I would like to highlight that it was a pity that the manifestations in Santa Maria were so little and that they summed up in party rallying. I wonder if we are really in a network because the movement developed itself on social networks and had its zenith on the squares but that did not happen in Santa Maria. Some people argued there was distortion, but I question them: why did they not search for more information regarding the movement 15O? After all, it was a call for society to leave their comfort zone, get off the sofa, away from the computer and go to the streets, to the squares, to show their wrath against this economic system, which is unequal, unfair and corrupt. A shame it was, the lack of consciousness and social engagement, which I do not refer to as party engagement! Nonetheless, I am hopeful and having taken part in this event was more than leaving home and going to the square. It was fighting for a society which is fairer and in which rights are recognised.

By the viewpoint of Priscila Ferreia, master’s student in History at the Federal University of Santa Maria

PORTO ALEGRE (RIO GRANDE DO SUL)

15-O/Porto Alegre. Photo: Alexandre Haubrich.

Answering to the global call, about two thousand people walked on this Saturday from Parque da Redenção to Praça da Matriz, in Porto Alegre (in the South of Brazil), where some of them camped until this Sunday morning.

Left-wing and right-wing groups were together, supporting topics that converged in some aspects and diverged in other. Criticism to corruption was shouted out loud by almost everyone, but the ‘no!’ to capitalism was not heard where the representatives of OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil) and Agora Chega got together. However, there was no need to hear the shouting to know on which side each person was. The physical types and clothes told on them: in a general manner, those who were anti-capitalism were young, wearing T-shirts and shorts, many of whom carried backpacks and posters. Those who were anti-corruption were hatted ladies, dressed for their morning footing, with stickers that were very similar to those PSDB (a far-right party) has been using in their campaigns.

Everyone got along peacefully. Minor misunderstandings were fastly solved. Besides many student groups, united with flags such as Movimento Juntos, ANEL and Juventude do PT, some workers unions and other organisations, such as SindBancários and Associação Software Livre befronted the mobilisations.

As in the rest of Brazil, there lacked a clear direction for the movement in Porto Alegre as well. It was a day of many dispersed agenda topics during a mobilisation that will hardly be  directly carried on here. The night was more about partying than politics and the debates for this Sunday morning were called off. The political and economic climate in Brazil is the opposite of that in Europe, where manifestations were more intense and politicised. But here too there are wrathful people. The questions that remain are at what are they wrathful and how far will this wrath sustain itself.

By the viewpoint of journalist Alexandre Haubrich, editor-in-chief of the blog http://jornalismob.wordpress.com

 

PELOTAS (RIO GRANDE DO SUL)

For global change now!

In Pelotas, manifestations began at the boulevard’s fountain, on Andrade Neves street, where about 200 activists took part in the march of the #wrathed, against the “world’s financial dictatorship”.

Protesters marched along the city’s street, with posters and cries of order, and arrived on Praça Coronel Pedro Osório (a square), where there was a popular and public assembly. The unity point for everyone was that we need to build other parameters for the society we live in, fight capitalism and all manners of domination and discrimination.

Soon after, the agenda rolled on with the exhibition and debate of films on relevant topics but, due to bad weather, there was no camp on the quare and the films were exhibited at the Students’ Union’s headquarters.

You can watch a video made by Coletivo Rede about 15-O in Pelotas:

By the viewpoint of Roger Peres, journalist, member and one of the founders of radioCom and member of Coletivo Rede

The voice of the wrathed ones was also heard in Pelotas, where mobilisations for global change on the 15th of October lead to the streets youngsters, workers, social movements and trade unions joined the chorus “against global crisis, real democracy now!”. As from 2p.m. people gathered at one of the busiest spots in the city, the boulevard’s fountain. From a megaphone, representatives of entities and people who were passing by expressed their wrath and summoned mobilisation, which took over the streets. At around 4p.m., Praça Coronel Pedro Osório (a square) was taken over in a symbolic act, in front of the city’s historic centre and in front of the City Hall. In Popular Assembly, protesters criticised the current political and economical system, which, in stead of fulfilling the claims of the majority of people, keeps benefitting and enriching a minority of politicians, companies and banks. On Sunday afternoon, a group of protesters gathered again on the city’s main square and marched to the Gay Pride Parade. Holding posters aloft and shouting “our fight happens every day, against sexism and homophobia”, the movement 15-O was welcomed with applauses and was invited to go on stage. Thousands of people heard the speech by student Luan Badia, activist of the group Juntos!, which stood up for the need for real democracy and the end of all kinds of oppression.

By the viewpoint of Cristina Altmann, professor at IFSul, Pelotas campus, and member of student activism group Juntos! (Juventude em Luta)

 

GOIÂNIA (GOIÁS)

In Goiânia (in the Centre-West of Brazil), the protest of the 15th of October was set to begin at 2p.m. on the civic square (in the city centre). With a very unexciting beginning, we were only able to achieve our top of attendance at 4p.m. when about 70 people met at the ‘Coreto’ (literally, the bandstand), a historic monument of the city of Goiânia. This meeting generated an assembly in which one could visibly tell there was a desire to create a group in the city to try to stunt apathy and nonchalanche that patrol the city’s streets.

In the next meeting, people began to spread out but a group remained as remained too the desire to set a camp up – which was done. In the evening, there were 15 people established and, as the night went by, more people would arrive. In the end, thirty people ended up camping through the night, sympathetic to the idea that they should resist into the week.

For there were very few experient militants in this group, I reckon that people started to take off as the sun rose because they had appointments as well. In an shameful manner, the Goiânia camp came to an end.

By the viewpoint of Pedro Guilherme Alfonso dos Santos, student at the Federal University of Goiás (UFGO)

SÃO PAULO (SÃO PAULO)

São Paulo’s 15-O was built by several sectors, such as collectives from the student activism groups, social movements and political parties, which got united in the fight against capitalism and representative democracy. For uniting organisations from diverse origins, São Paulo’s camp counted with many claiming flags, such as, for example, endowing education with 10% of Brazil’s GDP, against the construction of Belo Monte dam, for the legalisation of abortion and for the free fare in public transportation.

In spite of the heavy rain that befell São Paulo on this 15 of October, about 400 people took over squares in the city centre, demanding a new world and, in assembly, we decided on setting our tents up in Vale do Anhangabaú (a park in the centre of São Paulo). Soon after our camp was set up, the Guarda Civil Metropolitana (Metropolitan Civil Guard) demanded that we dismantled our camp or else we would be removed from there by force as the tents qualified as undue usage of the ground. We obeyed to the Guard’s order and about 200 people slept the night under dew and heavy rain but with a great will to build a new society. We remain camped in the city centre and have no forecast of how long we will stay here.

By the viewpoint of Felipe Moda, student at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP)

[Note: the mobilisation is still on in São Paulo and can be followed on  15-O SP]

FORTALEZA (CEARÁ)

Youth and workers’ fight at 15-O Fortaleza’s sun

Photo: Nathália Guerra

In Fortaleza (in the Northeast of Brazil), 15-O took place by the morning on Praça do Ferreira, historic spot in the city and a traditional place for manifestations and political acts, gathering about 50 people who spoke out to the thousands of other people who pass by every day, stirring the main problems of avoinding “real democracy” with the poor investments that we have nowadays in education in Brazil.

The activity was built by the campaign “10% of GDP for public education” once there is a local committee in the state of Ceará (where Fortaleza is) since the beginning of August which has already promoted many activities in the region to stir the campaign up. As such, 15-O in Fortaleza was promoted to allow a dialogue space between the population and the social movements which are in the emergence of fight for improvements in education, such as, for example, state primary school teachers who have been on strike for the past 60 days, mainly claiming the accomplishment of the minimum wage established for the current professional development of their career. And, by doing such, teachers were able to gather 8,000 people on streets last week.

Besides stirring up and dialogue with the population, it was also a moment for collecting signatures for the campaign’s petition, which will be available for as late as November. Entities which have been building the campaign in the state of Ceará took part in the actions: ANDES, Oposição de Esquerda da UNE (Coletivo Barricadas), CSP-Conlutas, ANEL, Sindicato dos Rodoviários, DCE UECE, among others, and also other entities and movements invited, and a massive adhesion of state primary school teachers, who are still mobilised.

By the viewpoint of Marcelo Ramos, student in History at the State University of Ceará (UECE) and member of the student activism group Coletivo Barricados Abrem Caminhos.

Estes relatos também podem ser lidos em português.

15-O IN BRAZIL: AN EXTENDED SPRING, by the viewpoint of contributors Priscila Ferreira, Alexandre Haubrich, Roger Peres, Cristina Altmann, Pedro Guilherme, Felipe Moda and Marcelo Ramos. Introduction text by Tiago Miotto. Translated by the viewpoint of Gianlluca Simi

colabore@revistaovies.com

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