Protest is not a crime - not one step back!
Further details on the repression against the FAG
The Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG) sends its fraternal thanks for all the solidarity that has been shown and re-states its principles with regard to what took place in Porto Alegre on 29th October. We are free men and women with ideals, sure in our right to express them politically and socially, and we will continue along our path. [Português] [Italiano]
Protest is not a crime - not one step back!
Saturday, 31 October 2009, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil.
The Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG) sends its fraternal thanks for all the solidarity that has been shown and re-states its principles with regard to what took place in Porto Alegre on 29th October. We are free men and women with ideals, sure in our right to express them politically and socially, and we will continue along our path.
On the afternoon of 29th October, the Civil Police of Rio Grande do Sul acted on two warrants for the search of and the seizure of documents from our public premises in Porto Alegre and the registered address of the website vermelhoenegro.org in the town of Gravataí. These orders enabled them to seize printed propaganda material, the hard disk of a computer and other objects relating to the matter. According to neighbouring witnesses, the agents of the State initially tried to knock down the door to the premises, which were closed at the time. Once they entered, the warrant was read and they began to search the premises for posters, newsletters and other documents. They also disconnected the phone, saying that it was not allowed to use it during a search.
However, apart from the material mentioned in the warrant, material which holds the State governor responsible, together with the Brigada Militar (state military police), for the murder of Eltom Brum da Silva, other printed material expressing political opinion and news was seized, such as a file of letters requesting the resignation of the governor and denouncing the role of the World Bank in her political plans. This material is part of a public campaign launched by the FAG in the context of a wider campaign by a large trade union and popular mobilization which has been going on in this state for at least a year.
According to the Civil Police, the case is based on a legal suit by governor Yeda Crusius (PSDB) against the FAG for offence, slander and defamation for the use of the word "murderer", published in pamphlets, posters and on the web site. However, also seized were other, unrelated documents, together with a collection of backup, archive disks and our computer's hard disk. The officers asked us if there were arms or drugs on the premises, in a clear attempt to criminalise us; they also wanted to know who took decisions, who was in charge, how the FAG worked, and if it was legally registered as a legal association. They also had a second mandate, regarding which they demanded to know the address or registered owner of the internet site, a clear threat to our freedom of expression, and an attempt to criminalise the person technically responsible, who was not identified. The registered owner of the portal's URL was brought to the 17th Police Department and arrested; and in Gravataí (in the Metropolitan Region of Porto Alegre), the hard disk of his computer was seized together with a palm-top for personal use and some files of old FAG material that had been stored there for many years, such as posters, magazines and various newsletters.
In the end, the political repression by the governor ended with four people being arrested and held for questioning. Their hearings will take place at the 17th Division of the Porto Alegre Civil Police once the enquiries are finished, with possible further proceedings against the individuals concerned, who are being held responsible for the above-mentioned public opinion campaign in the name of the FAG on the murder of a comrade from the Landless Peasants' Movement (MST) at the Southall farm in São Gabriel (Fronteira Oeste) on 21st August this year. We repeat that not only was the above offending material seized, but also various files and discs, political documents, minutes of meetings and even refuse; we also denounce the threat to close the website vermelhoenegro.org. Comrades and sympathisers should note why our website has been closed down, or rather censored.
The episode of the murder of landless peasant Eltom Brum da Silva, the struggle of ideas, the propaganda and agitation material produced by the FAG on these events, all this gave rise to the accusations of offence, slander and defamation, and the resulting search and seizure of material distributed in the week following the 21st August 2009. In São Gabriel, in the south of the country, the landless peasant Brum was killed in a cowardly fashion, shot in the back with a 12 gauge shotgun, but there is conflicting evidence regarding who is responsible for his death. There is one fundamental and we have brought it up: regardless of who the gun was registered to and to his intentions, isn't it those in government who are responsible for the police and the other State institutions?
At the top of the hierarchy are Brazil's state governors, chiefs of the state Police forces (Civil and Military); so the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, Yeda Crusius, is directly responsible for any action by those under her command, as would be the case in any other state in the country. But there are other important considerations, too. The public policies implemented by governments are also the responsibility of those who make them and execute them, again represented by the chief, the governor. Not only the case of the murder of a Landless peasant in 2009, whom the press made out to be a politician, but also the consequences of education and public health policies, of the criminalisation of poverty in the urban peripheries and in the countryside, as well as the social and labour movements that are the legitimate flags that various sectors of the organised people have been raising up against this government for years. There are no isolated cases, just a harshening of the criminalisation and brutal repression of all these sectors, such as the bank-workers' strike and the state-school teachers' strike in 2008 and the attempt to criminalise the public-sector workers' opposition led by the CPERS union in its long struggle. Neither can we omit to mention the political persecution launched together with the State Public Prosecutor against the MST, a State conspiracy clearly aimed at criminalising it.
Another aggravating factor in this government are the effects - in the short, mid and long term - of its World Bank debts, for example the attempt to sell off the Pampa to the interests of paper producers, the prevalence of agribusiness over family-run farms and the direct and indirect financing of national and multinational groups and corporation. Lastly, the neo-liberal strategic plan for Rio Grande do Sul, publicly announced with the Agenda 2020 program, is being applied and these objectives are the responsibility of all those who make up the government with political functions (1st, 2nd and 3rd level) and proncipally the governor Yeda Crusius, who naturally defends her plan for government, or rather the plan of the elites who support her and the interests they represent.
Let us not forget the role of the ruling classes as policy-makers and their influence in the game of interests that characterises the various Rio Grande do Sul governments. They are the interests of the big landowners and agribusiness and its whole destructive chain, such as the paper industry, the "green desert" (1), the exploitation of water reserves, the attempt to criminalise the MST, the closure of itinerant schools in the camps, etc. Also at stake are the interests of those who live by systematically plundering the people, from institutionalised corruption, embezzlement by the banks, the old order of those who exploit and despise the people, their rights and their capacity to rebel. There have been countless denunciations and ample evidence of scandalous corruption, there have been many attempts to discredit and stop the trade unions, the various categories of workers and the social movements from demonstrating their rejection of all this, their opinion.
The policy of stripping the workers of their rights, many of which have been proudly won through long struggles by the trade unions over the last hundred years, is not the exclusive property of the Lula government. Here in Rio Grande do Sul, Yeda Crusius' government has adopted and continues to use many different means to repress and criminalise state-school teachers and their union (the CPERS)(2), as well as its leaders. The state's public schools have become another business deal between the government and private organisations, the educational foundations, which are nothing more than sewers for public money with their logic of management and their interests, where the usual suspects are the winners and the people are the losers. The conquests of decades of struggle by education workers are under attack from the state government's current education policies, once personified by Mariza Abreu, ex-Secretary for Education.
The CPERS-Sindicato together with other unions in the state public sector organised in the Fórum dos Servidores (Public-Sector Workers' Forum), together with various sectors of the popular, labour and student movements have denounced these policies and are standing up to them and their consequences. This campaign, known as "Yeda Out" and in which we participate, is the background for the struggle of propaganda and agitation which has given rise to the legal action against the FAG.
We would like to acknowledge the solidarity which was immediately shown to us by so many comrades, organisations, trade unions, alternative media sources, by the human rights commission of the MST, by the CPERS-Sindicato in the persons of its president and vice-president who came to our premises during the police operation. We would also like to thank this and other unions for the offer of the services of their legal departments. Solidarity for us is a principle and we are delighted with all the demonstrations of solidarity which we have received and will surely continue to receive from all our esteemed comrades, such as the CGT-Spain and our sister organisation, the Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU).
In the examples of Sacco and Vanzetti, we reaffirm that the criminal nature of the ruling classes, their ruling elites, the capitalist system, will continue to clash with the antagonism and validity of our struggles, our principles and above all the right to freedom for which we will continue to struggle. With one eye firmly on the libertarian horizon that we are trying to reach, with the dignity of our militants and the solidarity of the oppressed classes, of the people who struggle, their desires to start buildingnow the path towards a new society, whose watchword is "not one step backwards"!
An injury to one is an injury to all!
For socialism and freedom!
Those who struggle will never die!
Federação Anarquista Gaúcha
Translation by FdCA-International Relations office
1. Term used to indicate the effects of monoculture in forestry for paper production and its negative effects.
2. Centro dos Profesores do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul - Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação.