The Victorious UERJ Occupation

In the midst of many strikes and mobilizations, the University of th State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) passes trhough a deep crisis: lack of financial fundings and the policy of scrapping and failing – which became acute after the Fifa Cup feast in 2015 and the Olympic massacre afterwards – with many episodes of delay in payments to the administrative workers, outsourced and professors and also delays on the scientific initiation and assistance scholarships.

In August 1 hundreds of UERJ professors were reunited in assembly and decided to begin a new strike against the shameless attacks of Pezão (PMDB) in attempts to “assassinate” the university. Also in the same week, the university was closed for undetermined period, and the rectory had no projection when the first academic semester of the year would begin. Professors, functionaries and outsourced without payment, delays on the students scholarships, bandejão (university restaurant) closed since 2016 and the falling apart structure are only some of the grave problems people from the university are facing.

The professors suspended the strike that was initiated on 1st of august and returned on 24th of the same month and classes returned again on 4th of September. On 5th of September, a report from Fazenda Ministry, under the IMF agent Henrique Meirelles, recommended a “review on the higher education offer” and the “dismissal of commissioned and active public servants”.

On the evening of Tuesday, September 26th, UERJ students occupied the bandejão against the grave attacks the university was suffering by the old State both on state level with Pezão (PMDB) and on federal level with Temer (PMDB). This important initiative happened almost a month after the returning of classes, after a united strike of students, functionaries and professors. The strike was ended with only some promises from the corrupt management of Pezão and soon the situation of the university was as bad as before: bolsas and salaries delayed, bandejão still closed and the academic calendar of 90 days (should normally be 120). Facing the paralysis of the DCE (Central Students Directory) linked to UNE (National Students Unity) headed by PT (workers party) and PCdoB alliance (communist party of brasil), the independent and combative students managed to be mobilized on each course. Breaking up with the straitjacket imposed by the MEC (Culture and Education Ministry) representatives inside the student’s movement, the occupation was formed independently of these enemies of the students.


Video of the occupation day

In a note posted in the occupation web page the students asserted the reasons of romper with the DCE concerning political mobilization in defence of the university. They say this entity that should represent the students, has been a hindering mechanism in order for the struggle to advance: “Remember the last strike in which the DCE tried to implode the mobilization committee, placing (in the committee) dozens of students of a single course, not focusing on mobilization activities such as pamphleteering and demonstrations. These organizations (PT\PCdoB) that lead this entity for years allowed the university to reach this level of scrapping, without any serious mobilization.” Beyond this, the students warned that the scrapping and failing of the UERJ is a political project for the destruction of the public education that is currently ongoing in the country in order to privatize it. They point out that the government plan is to scrap to an extreme just to assert that is necessary to hand the university to a “Social Organization” (OS), considering the state had been “unable” to manage it. The OSs had already taken control of health units – such as the Family Clinic – in Rio de Janeiro. These are also suffering with the lack of funds, payment delays and the continual faining of the services.

On September 27th in an auditorium of UERJ, the professors decided to strike starting from October 3rd due to the lack of funds from the government.
The sad news of the death of comrade Bruno Alves dos Santos on the evening of October 29th was received. Bruno was driven by a train short after leaving the occupation, in which struggle he was since the first day. He was studying History on UERJ and was an active militant of the popular causes, and also a former distributor of the newspaper A Voz da Favela (The Voice of the Favela). A friend also participating in the occupation said that: “Bruno was always present on the struggles waged by the Combatant Youth, as on the huge demonstration of July 17th, 2013, when he was shot on the shoulder by a lethal gun” on the historical Alerj (Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro) Battle. And so the occupation was named “Bruno Alves Occupation”, in honour to him.

Bruno Alves

Bruno Alves dos Santos

The occupation had been an example of student combativeness and organization in struggle to prevent the assassination of public education. After two days in the building the students managed to – through mobilization and popular donations – put the bandejão to work, serving lunch and dinner to hundreds of students, promoting political-cultural activities, such as debates, films and musical presentations, also regular assemblies in order to discuss the new courses of the struggle.

On October 3rd, The students organized a protest which began in the 12th floor of the central building of the university and descended through the ramps and went to the Sao Francisco Xavier Avenue in front of the building, with a big banner with the slogans: Occupied Bandejão! Against Privatization! It’s right to Rebel!

demonstration in front of the main building of UERJ, october 3rd

On October 8th, children from the Mangueira Hill, a community next to the university, were received in the bandejão for lunch. Showing with actions that the University can and must be integrated with its role of serving the community around it. The students put to practice the slogans of Break the walls of the university! And Serve the People!

The professors that on October 4th declared strike, and the functionaries on strike for two months, uniting forces with the bandejão occupation and occupied the rectory in the morning of October 10th  

Also in the wave in defence of the UERJ, also on October 10th the students, teachers and parents of the Fernando Rodrigues da Silveira Application College (Cap\UERJ) were mobilized in the neighbourhood of Rio Comprido, north zone of the city, closing streets. The slogans were in defence of UERJ and against the scrapping of the College, which is part of the university.

Demonstration of the Cap students, Rio Comprido


On October 18th the security functionaries paralyzed their activities demanding the payment of their salaries delayed for 3 months.

On October 19th the students, professors and functionaries of the public universities, with the support of popular movements were concentrated on UERJ and organized a big demonstration that marked the launching of the National Front in Defence of the Higher Education Public Institutions. The students of nutrition and nursery from Pedro Ernesto University Hospital (HUPE), also did a demonstration with the support of other functionaries, doctors and nurses of the hospital, they denounced the management of Pezão.

Students in a victorious demonstration on the rectory after a month of the combative occupation on October 25th to press the principal to assume the commitment with the agenda. The same day the students met the representative of the institution, and the students movement in an independent and combative form succeeded in making the principal to sign a letter, that ensures the reopening of the  bandejão and the promotion of alimentation policies in the other campus. And on October 31st the students and functionaries of the UERJ did another demonstration in defence of the public education, closing two important streets near the mais building, under the slogans of  Pezão, Thief, robbing education! Out with Temer and his gang! Education is not commodity! If Pezão don’t pay me, the palace will burn! The students movement conducted the political agitation with determination and combativeness, not intimidated by the repression apparatus, that tried to stop the demonstration. This demonstration was able to draw the attention to the attacks on the public education on course.

Demonstration near UERJ, october 31st 

The occupation was finished on November 1st and they were able to achieve great victories as the commitment in reopening the bandejão and elaborating alimentation policies for all the university, and they show in practice that the combative struggle is the only way to stop the failure and privatization of the public education. The reopening of the bandejão is already ongoing, the company that was assigned to manage it has already signed the contract.

In the web page “Ocupa Bandejão UERJ” managed by students, they declare they will keep even more firm than ever in defence of the public higher education “Our occupation had shown the way to the combative students movement how to face the scrapping and privatization: occupying all universities, transforming them in students resistance bulwarks to defend with nail and teeth the right of the people to study and learn. Dare to fight, dare to win! Long live Bruno Alves Occupation! Down with UNE, enemy of the students! Is right to rebel!