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  • A girl holds a sign that reads, 'The Earth is Round, Bolsonaro is square' during a protest against cuts to federal spending on education in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 30, 2019.

    A girl holds a sign that reads, 'The Earth is Round, Bolsonaro is square' during a protest against cuts to federal spending on education in Sao Paulo, Brazil, May 30, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 31 May 2019

The Education Minister Abraham Weintraub tried to disqualify massive demostrations by implying that Brazilians are fooled by "a rain of fake news."

While some 1.8 million Brazilians were in the streets Thursday protesting federal budget cuts to higher education, the Minister of Education Abraham Weintraub was posting a video parodying "Singing in the Rain" to talk about a "rain of fake news" against President Jair Bolsonaro's administration and criticize those who took part in and supported the massive demonstrations.

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In the video posted on his Twitter account, Weintraub walks into view of the camera spinning an umbrella, trying to mimic famed actor Gene Kelly in the movie, Singing in the Rain, with the film's signator song playing in the background. Weintraub goes on for a minute saying, "it's raining fake news" in reponse to Brazil's public higher eduction system being reduced by 11.9 million Reales (over US$ 3 million) by the administration. 

"Weintraub has proven he has no decorum for his position. He will be prosecuted by the Prosecutor General of the Republic (PGR) for trying to coerce teachers and students to (stop protesting), which is a Nazi practice," local media Brazil 247 commented.

Mocking the minister's video, student protesters in sunny Rio Grande do Sul, carried open umbrellas overhead during their Thursday protest against withholding 30 percent of the education budget from being allocated. This move, which doesn't require congressional approval, cuts 50 percent cut of the nation's scholarship programs for the National Council on Scientific and Technological Development. Some 80,000 Brazilian scholarship recipients are being adversely affected by the decision implemented in early May. Experts have said the funding will likely run out by July, and won't be replenished, according to National Georgraphic.

Weintraub also came under fire by the public from politicians, intellectuals, students, professors and lawyers weeks ago after he said teachers were "coercing" students to protest during the May 15 marches, also against the funding shifts to his ministry. As a result, the Rio Grande do Norte Federal Public Ministry filed a civil action for moral damages against Weintraub Wednesday. If found guilty, the cabinet member could be forced to pay US$1.2 million in penalties.

"While Brazil was united to defend education, the boastful minister made fun of our country dancing in a 'Singing in the Rain' video. Weintraub, do Brazil a favor: revoke budged cuts and resign!"

According to Brazil's Deputy Prosecutor General Luciano Mariz Maia, the education minister's statements could violate the Child and Adolescent Statute and other legal measures.

The Communist Party Congressman Orlando Silva says he will file a suit against Minister Weintraub for abuse of power, administrative misconduct and felony responsibility.

"It's raining demonstrations" is the phrase and hashtag being used now by students and youth to call a new, third nationwide strike June 14 against Bolsonaro's attacks on education.

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