On November 4th, 2016 at approximately 9:25 am 10 vehicles full of heavily armed police arrived at the gates of the Landless Workers Movement’s (MST) Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes (ENFF) school in Guararema, São Paulo State, Brazil. The Police, called the “Armed Group for Repression, Robberies and Assaults of the Civil Police (GARRA)” without identifying themselves and without a warrant, menaced the guard booth and then jumped over the reception windows forcibly entering the peaceful school with assault weapons drawn. Once inside they pointed their weapons at people who peacefully approached them, shot at least two live rounds into the air and arrested and beat the singer Gue Oliveira and librarian Ronaldo Valencia, 64, who has Parkinson’s disease, for no reason. The same day police raided the homes of MST members in two other states, allegedly as part of police Operation Castra. The coordination of these attacks suggests that these operations are national in scope, and that this assault was carried out with direction from the federal level of the Brazilian security forces.
As former and current international students and professors of the ENFF school coming from nearly 40 countries, we denounce the actions of the Brazilian police force as a violent attack on human rights and political freedoms in Brazil.
We denounce this political violence against peaceful students at the ENFF international school and condemn the repression and criminalization of social movements such as the MST.
We know from the leaked transcript of the conversation between planning minister Romero Jucá and oil executive Sergio Machado, that the army has been monitoring the MST for over a year. We see these attacks as an acceleration of US imperial control over Brazilian politics with the government of Temer coordinating its grip on power with the US state department, as he was doing as early as 2006, when Temer first met with the US state department. Throughout this time the US State Department, and now the government of Temer, have been working to undermine the just demands of the Brazilian peasant movements, particularly the MST.
As former or current students of the ENFF who are leaders in social movements in our countries and communities, we further assert that the ENFF is a peaceful school for human rights, social justice, and the building of community-based social movements that has trained more than 15,000 students from nearly 60 countries. We view these attacks as Temer’s government attempt to forcibly impose his coup government on the people of Brazil. Moreover, we view these attacks on the MST as attacks on all of our communities globally.