BRAZIL – VICTORY OF THE PEOPLE’S STRUGGLE: acquittal of the 23 protesters from 2013 and 2014

We publish an unofficial translation of an article published by the Brazilian Center For Solidarity With The Peoples (CEBRASPO).

After almost 10 years of a process based on no material act that constitutes the commission of crimes, the Judiciary finally recognized that the young people who participated in the Days of People’s Struggle, in 2013 and 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, did not commit any crime, absolving them of all set up charges. It was difficult to admit otherwise: the entire process, with its 48 volumes, was a pure farce built on testimonies from police officers and National Force agents infiltrating without a court order. From the beginning, the attempt to criminalize popular protest was evident.

With the declaration of illegality of the alleged evidence by the STF and its consequent withdrawal from the process, nothing was left that could be included in the Criminal Code and the entire farce set up felt down – we remember that the complaint offered by the Ministry of Interior was accepted by the 27 Criminal Court in just 2 hours.

From the beginning of this long process in which CEBRASPO was ready to contribute to the campaign in defense of the activists involved and all the organizations that were being criminalized, we said that it had an eminently political content: it was an attempt to intimidate and interrupt the popular struggling movement that broke out in 2013. Despite the spontaneity of the emergence of the demonstrations, there was a rejection of the deterioration of living conditions, structural unemployment, the scrapping of health and education services, the increase in police violence and the criminalization of youth, mainly black and poor. Added to this is the corruption seen in the works of the PAC, the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics.

The Dilma government at the time could have seen in the millions of people mobilized for rights a window of opportunity to break with historical ties so that the country could escape its situation as a nation plundered by imperialism and hostage to the interests of the big landlords and the big bourgeoisie, both monopolists of benefits from the State. Instead of facing the increase in external debt, an imperial tribute to bankers, anti-democratic laws were passed, such as the Counter-Terrorism and Criminal Organizations Law, used against protesters on several occasions. In collusion with Sergio Cabral, who was being blamed on the streets for corruption and the disappearance of the worker Amarildo by the Rocinha’s UPP, and with the support of the press monopolies, which already judged the protesters as bandits and terrorists, agents illegally infiltrated to set up the fraud in this process, and others that occurred throughout the country.

Throughout these years of the infamous process and unequivocal persecution and criminalization of the popular struggle, the damage to those involved was diverse: during most of this period the 23 were deprived of their fundamental constitutional rights and guarantees. They lost their freedom of demonstration, as they were prohibited from participating in public meetings and demonstrations; they were deprived of their right to come and go, prohibited from moving outside the city of Rio de Janeiro; protesters were unable to get jobs, civil servants were threatened with dismissal; some had to suffer unfairly the inequities of prisons, one activist spent 7 months in a maximum security prison; Furthermore, family members, especially the elderly, had serious impacts on their health.

We salute the protesters’ firmness in the face of criminalization not only by state institutions, but also by the monopoly press. We also welcome the solidarity of the most diverse entities and all the defenders of the people’s rights who maintained the campaign in defense of the 23 throughout this period through events, debates, leafleting and active solidarity with their families. We want to especially highlight the efforts of mothers, partners and other family members, people who often became aware of the political determinants of the process during the campaigns and who were a stronghold of CEBRASPO’s defense work. We salute the popular lawyers who acted firmly in the process and all those who contributed in the legal field to demonstrate procedural fraud.

We especially remember two tireless fighters who are no longer physically with us and who dedicated most of the end of their activism to this campaign: José Sales Pimenta and José Maria Galhasi, founding members of CEBRASPO and outstanding defenders of the people’s rights in the countryside and in the city.

Comrade Jose Pimenta, Present in the Struggle!

Comrade José Maria, Present in the Struggle!

The acquittal of the 23 is a resounding political victory! What was won in the courts is an expression of the defeat of those who tried to criminalize and erase the legacy of June 2013 and the fight against the World Cup in 2014. And we have no doubt that the popular struggle will reach new heights as the causes present in 2013 persist and are more serious. The coup plotters who want to remove democratic rights to deepen this economic and social order in crisis, in the face of the threat that 2013 represented for real change, are present, they have not been punished. The current government does not guarantee the people’s rights, it points in no direction towards maintaining the guarantee of the people’s rights. Let’s see in São Paulo where young people who were going to a demonstration are being prosecuted in Federal Court for violent abolition of the democratic rule of law. Let’s look at the countryside, where fighters for land are criminalized and persecuted by State agents and big landlords’ henchmen.

We call on popular forces to remain active and vigilant because if 2013 is to come back bigger and stronger again, it will be up to true democrats and defenders of the people’s rights to denounce and fight against all forms of persecution and criminalization of the popular movement.



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