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  • The National Union of Students Vice President Jessy Dayane in Curitiba, Brazil, April 9, 2018

    The National Union of Students Vice President Jessy Dayane in Curitiba, Brazil, April 9, 2018 | Photo: Twitter / @levantepopular

Published 10 July 2019

The Congress of the National Union of Students will address the crisis generated by neoliberal policies.

More than 18,000 delegates from universities are gathering Wednesday in Brasilia to attend the 57th edition of the National Union of Students (UNE) Congress, an event whose central theme is the defense of education, employment and social security.

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"In times of crisis, when there are attempts to restrict political participation, attacks on acquired rights and other setbacks happening across the country, Brazilian students pose a counter-response: to enhance political participation," Jessy Dayane, the UNE Vice President, said.

Debates, working groups, political actions and cultural activities are scheduled to take place in the University of Brasilia from July 10 to July 14. Among its main events, there will be a march towards the Ministries Square, a symbol of the Brazilian executive power, on July 12.

Dayane explained that students have been actively mobilized in the defense of education in the face of budget cuts promoted by President Jair Bolsonaro, the defense of job creation as a counterpoint to the crisis scenario generated by the neoliberal advance; and the defense of the right to retirement, which is under discussion in the National Congress due to the pension reform.

"The enemies of education, be careful of themselves. Students from all over Brazil are on their way to Brasilia for the UNE congress."

The Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald has been invited to participate in several UNE tables to expose the collusion between former judge Sergio Moro and prosecutors of the "Car Wash" case.

His participation is a "relevant political act because [the Car Wash] messes with the Brazilian democracy through the political imprisonment of Lula da Silva, which was a fabrication created to politically influence the elections and implement a program of setbacks and withdrawal of rights. So it has everything to do with our fight," Dayane explained.

The UNE congress is important among Brazilian students, for it has marked the main lines of social struggle in different moments of national history.​​​​​​​

"Work is health, the saviour said... But education is the future of a country. Except for Bolsonaro who prefers to see 2.5 million Brazilian children in the fields and mines rather than at school. We arrive to the worst with the far-right. The meme reads, “Brazil: when President Bolsonaro defend child work. 'Working gives dignity to men and women, no matter the age,' the far-right President said."

During the civil-military dictatorship (1964-1985), for example, it contributed to an increase in the ranks of those who actively resisted the regime, even by giving their lives or being imprisoned.

According to the UNE vice president, the 2019 Congress can now help strengthen the fight against the conservative and neoliberal advance.

"This moment is fundamental to build a turning point in the country's political game. The UNE congress contributes to bringing more people to mobilize and to defend sovereignty, democracy and the Brazilian people's rights," she said.

During the days of the event, the congress will also elect a new directors' board of UNE, an organization which currently represents more than 7 million Brazilian students.​​​​​​​

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