"Step out Bolsonaro!" thousands shout as they march to defend public education and the Amazon.
On September 7th, the Independence Day of Brazil, the National Student Union (UNE) led protests in defense of the Amazon and public education, both of which are being threatened by policies in favor of private companies promoted by President Jair Bolsonaro.
“Education-related budget cuts end our dreams,” the UNE policy director Julia Aguiar said and explained that the today's mobilizations seek to make visible growing social inequalities.
"In Brazil, we have to leave our homes and travel to other cities in order to study. In this context, public scholarships are essential to ensure attendance."
“The Scream of the Excluded” is the slogan sheltering protests which take place on dozen of Brazilian cities. The massive discontent with austerity policies, however, is not new.
"Over the last months we have witnessed mobilizations in defense of education and against a government which attacks the rights of the people as a whole," Aguiar said and recalled that the Education Ministry announced further cuts this week, which means that "the 2020 budget will have half the money than the current one."
In a country that is still astonished at the Intercept leaks, which provided insight into how judges and officials plotted to send Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to prison, street protests were inevitably accompanied by chants reminiscent of the Workers' Party government.
"Bolsonaro wants to know and Brazil tells him: the Workers' Party... will be back!, education... will be back!, social security... will be back!, jobs... will be back!, democracy... will be back!"
OS CARAS PINTADAS ESTÃO DE VOLTA!— UNE (@uneoficial) September 6, 2019
Em João Pessoa a manifestação pela educação e pela Amazônia está acontecendo agora. Amanhã é em todo o Brasil. Nosso recado será dado nas ruas. Pela independência do Brasil vamos de preto e com nossa cara pintada de verde e amarelo! pic.twitter.com/mlwo0SW1Gh
Painted faces are back! People rally today for education and the Amazon in Joao. Tomorrow it will be across Brazil. Our message will be broadcast from the streets. Dressed in black and with our faces painted in green and yellow, we move towards the independence of Brazil!
The September 7th protests are also focused on the defense of Amazonian rainforests and indigenous peoples, which have been targeted by businessmen who traffic with land and natural resources.
"Rich people say they defend the Brazilian flag a lot; however, they just want to sell the national wealth," said Nicolas Nacimento, a 20-year-old student who is participating in a street protest in Brasilia for the first time.
"The Amazon is not Trump's garbage. Step out Bolsonaro," was the message written on a banner displayed on the Brazilian capital.
"I am not deceived, Bolsonaro is a militiaman," the citizens were singing in chorus as the police crossed Brasilia's streets mounted on their horses and escorted by armed cars.
"Strength Brazil, courage! The bad will end," Portuguese writer Valter Hugo Mae told Brazil de Fato as a way of sending a solidarity message at today's struggle in defense of the Amazon.
"When minorities come together, they become a majority!," he recalled.