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We are writing History!

category brazil/guyana/suriname/fguiana | community struggles | opinion / analysis author Tuesday June 18, 2013 19:44author by Khaled - Coletivo Anarquista Bandeira Negra Report this post to the editors

On the fares struggle in Brazil

After spending the last few days in São Paulo, I return to Florianópolis with all my thoughts taken up by the subject that has monopolized conversations in the city: the demonstrations of the Free Pass Movement. [Português]

We are writing History!

"We carry a new world here, in our hearts. That world is growing in this minute.
Buenaventura Durruti

After spending the last few days in São Paulo, I return to Florianópolis with all my thoughts taken up by the subject that has monopolized conversations in the city: the demonstrations of the Free Pass Movement. I do not know exactly whether it was by choice or due to the necessities of life (perhaps a mix of the two) that I left São Paulo to live in the capital of Santa Catarina, but the truth is that despite more than 5½ years that have gone by, I have never broken the political and emotional ties that tie me to São Paulo, ties which are now stronger than ever because of the political situation the city is going through.

I hope the colder and more impersonal among you will forgive me, but I was never able to hide my emotions. The truth is that today I can no longer think without using my heart. Even the quotation up there must have sounded a bit "tacky". But I bet there are many more besides me who also feel the same emotion.

On the way home, I was seized by a whirlwind of memories that forced me to write (you know what I mean?). It was then that I began to remember the first meeting of the "Free Pass São Paulo" that I participated in at the headquarters of the JOC (Working-Class Catholic Youth) in March 2005, even before that group formally joined the Free Pass Movement, which came about between June and July of that year, shortly before the 2nd ENMPL (National Meeting of the Free Pass Movement). I also remembered that tumultuous and fateful meeting in Campinas: after the "Public Transportation and Free Passes - the de-commodization of public transport" seminar, again in October of that year, when I first had contact with the guy who came to "change everything", Lúcio Gregori, who introduced the idea of the Zero Tariff to us. Then came the National Week of the Fight for Free Passes at the end of the same month, with events where the movement had its local committees and which for me was marked by the first appearance of the MPL Drum Circle and the launch of the first and only issue of the MPL's magazine.

(A word on the side: it is worth recalling an e-mail sent by one of the members of the MPL-SP Drum Circle after that first round of fights, entitled "Possessed":
"Hey people,
What was that?? Sparks were coming out of the instruments during the last performance in the centre!! Never played so well in all History!! The drummers gave a side show and the people hung out of their windows and stood sambaing to the sound of drums on fire!! Everything worked! It was beautiful... Congratulations to us!!
After that, it is impossible to list everything that followed: the fight against the increase in 2006, when for the first time the demonstrators exceeded the hundreds and we gathered thousands of people in the demonstrations that we called, and many, many more activities. I remember how hard it was to speak about Zero Fares at that time - we were simply labelled as crazy by everyone and it took a huge job of training, preparation and discussion, seminars, lectures, and a myriad of activities until the proposal began to be understood and minimally accepted by different sectors of society, including within even the left.

In over eight years of the movement, be it in São Paulo or in Floripa, there were innumerable decisive moments which went to create what I am today, as well as all the great people and great friendships I made. There were many, many people who went passed through the movement, the discussions, the controversies, tensions, crises... I know that I dedicated, along with many other comrades, hours and hours of work, meetings and activities to the movement. There were many who spent a considerable part of their "best years" of their youth in this movement, losing their hair, acquiring grey hairs and gaining a few extra kilos. And it was not always easy: on the contrary, the "low" moments may have exceeded those where the MPL was on the rise. There were many doubts, and those moments of disbelief where we would ask ourselves: "Is it really worth it?".

All these collective efforts in order to widen not only the organization but also the ideological aspect of the struggle, of convincing the population about the correctness of this agenda, I now see being added to the spontaneity of the thousands that are coming out onto the streets today - in São Paulo but also across Brazil and in many cities throughout the world. And from the merger between organization and spontaneity, we are witnessing this moment, rich in mobilization, in the development of practical direct action, in horizontality and autonomy, principles which are dear to the movement. The organization of the MPL is adding itself to the courage and strength of thousands of people, from all walks of life, who with all the violence and brutality of the State have faced repression, trial and all the manipulation of the mass media, and are continuing to rock São Paulo and threaten to stir up the whole country in a difficult process of analysis and foresight.


"If you remained isolated, if each one of you were obliged to act on their own, you would be powerless without a doubt; but getting together and organising your forces - no matter how weak they are at first - only for joint action, guided by common ideas and attitudes, and by working together for a common goal, you will become invincible."
Mikhail Bakunin
Thus we come to the present, the culmination of all our history, without doubt surprising all expectations. We have arrived at the centre stage of national politics, gaining unprecedented prominence and recognition.

I do not know what will become of it all - beyond being sure that the repeal of the increase will come about in São Paulo. One way or another I know that I, and many others besides me, today hold enormous pride in having contributed in some way to writing this story. With great conviction, even in the worst moments of doubt and distress, we carried the knowledge that we would never regret it all. A certainty based on a bet, because when we fight nothing is ever guaranteed.

The only thing I keep thinking now is: it was worth it. We are writing History, friends, friends, comrades, comrades in struggle and class.

What will happen from now on cannot be predicted. But I have learned that everything we do today, however small it may seem, can have repercussions tomorrow. In the words on voluntarism of Errico Malatesta:
"We believe ... that the revolution is an act of will - the will of individuals and of the masses; that it needs for its success certain objective conditions, but that does not happen of necessity, inevitably, through the single action of economic and political forces."

Translation by FdCA - International Relations Office

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