Striking students, staff and professors have faced brutal police repression at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, the largest university in South America, with more than 75,000 students.
Some of the university staff went gone on strike on 5 May, both over wages and the sacking of a union activist. Resistance intensified after 1 June when police shock troops busted up a picket of the university administration building by staff and students.
As a result of the police intervention and the calling off of negotiations by the university administration, professors and students in various faculties voted to strike on 4 June.
On Tuesday 9 June, police brutally attacked a peaceful demonstration of 3,000 students, staff and professors, wounding numerous demonstrators with rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray.
Attempts by professors, students and state deputies from the Party of Socialism and Freedom (P-SOL) to negotiate an end to the police action were rebuffed by more tear gas and pepper spray.
Police continue to occupy key points in the university and the university administration and the state government have remained intransigent. This is the first time since the military dictatorship ended 25 years ago that the police have entered the campus. Because of the brutal role of the police on campuses during the dictatorship, police have always been prohibited from entering universities.
Classes have been completely shut down in various faculties. Teach-ins and picket line “classes” have also been organised. The key slogans are “USP is Ours”, “Police Off the Campus”, “Fire the Rector” and “Negotiations Now”.
Solidarity has been widespread from other Brazilian universities, trade unions and social movements. Some universities are debating whether to take strike action.
Militants are linking up issues of police intervention with the austerity policies of the government. Students, staff and professors are meeting in general assemblies this week to discuss further actions and another mass demonstration has been called for Tuesday of this week.