Brazilian Marxists punished by São Paulo Municipality for protesting against repression

Esquerda Marxista: Sao Paulo municipality wants to punish the Marxist Left for having participated in a demonstration against repression

For a long time Esquerda Marxista  [the Brazilian section of the International Marxist Tendency] have denounced the growing offensive by the bourgeois state in Brazil, which is stepping up the repression and criminalization of social movements. The latest step of the state apparatus in this direction, has been the attempt of the city of São Paulo to intimidate our organisation through the Traffic Engineering Company (CET).

To our surprise, on January 22, we received a letter from the CET with a bill for extraordinary "operating costs" arising from a demonstration organised in November 2013 [against state repression] (see the image below).

According to the letter, "there was a need for the provision of operational services by the CET, under Law 14.072/05 regulated by Decree 51.953/10, in the form of decree 053/12 - SMT-GAB, obliging the latter Traffic Engineering Company - CET, to be compensated for operating costs for services relating to the operation of the road system".

It continues: "The holding of the event gave rise to the provision of extraordinary operational services by the company in servicing the demonstration, enabling monitoring points at intersections, performing momentary blocks and diversions to minimize the impact on the roads in the area. Thus, as the CET incurred costs for a total value of R$ 538.58 [US$220], we send the invoice and docket due on 28/02/2014. (...) If the specified period expires without payment, it will be forwarded for inclusion in the CADIN [Municipal Register of Debtors], (...) and relevant legal action will be pursued".

Does this mean that, the city of São Paulo is now charging a fee to allow street demonstrations?! This is a clear attempt to intimidate the organizations of the popular movements, the working class and the youth, so that they will stop calling for street demonstrations. This behaviour is part of a general wave of repressive measures that are being taken against demonstrations, not only in São Paulo, but all over Brazil and throughout the world. It is a clear attempt to strike down on those who organize and fight.

In Spain, for example, a law has recently been passed which promises to hold responsible, those who publish information about demonstrations, for whatever that might happen at the protest. If, for instance, a protest is advertised on Facebook, which then lead to a fire or to looting, any person who has advertised the protest could be held responsible, fined up to €60.000 and possibly even face imprisonment. In Iran, when a political prisoner is executed, his family is required to pay the cost of the bullet that killed him! Now in São Paulo, the city administration wants to demand "operating costs" from protesters? Where will it end? It is not so much the amount of R$ 538.58, but the precedent that it sets.

That the previous right wing administration Serra and Kassab sanctioned such a law, and published the Ordinance which allows the CET to do this, does not come as a surprise. After all, Serra and Kassab are representatives of the ruling class and are not fond of the right to free expression.

As it turns out however, the law used by the CET, is not even applicable to the situation. The law states: "Exceptions to the payment of the price of the operating costs and amounts related to signalling are events exclusively of the following character: religious; party political; social, when promoted by an organisation declared of public utility, as per current legislation; public demonstrations, marches, parades and public meetings that bring a public expression of opinion on certain facts; demonstrations of civic character of notorious social recognition". (our emphasis).

Fernando Haddad, the current mayor of São Paulo, who is also a member of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (The Workers' Party), was elected by the people of São Paulo against the right wing administration of Kassab. But, together with [governor] Alckmin, Haddad implemented the bus fare increase in 2013 and at the same time took part in the repression of the thousands of workers and youth who protested against this measure. And now, the CET, which is under his administration, is trying to punish the Esquerda Marxista, with a law that clearly does not apply to the situation!

This measure goes directly against the right to demonstrate, which is guaranteed by the 1988 Constitution. After all, is everyone entitled to freely express themselves, or only those who can pay the invoice that comes from the CET? Furthermore, if Esquerda Marxista does not pay the bill, we will be subject to "appropriate legal action". In reality though, all of this nonsense is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate and criminalise the struggle of the working class and the youth. However, we will not bow to these pressures.

The above threat by the city administration comes after the November 7, 2013 protest, organised in Sao Paulo. The protest was called after the murder of two youngsters, Douglas and Jean, by the Military Police [PM]. The members of Esquerda Marxista participated in the demonstration distributing a leaflet with the slogan "For the Dissolution of the PM!" (For more information click here). We do not accept that anyone has to pay the fees charged by the city, no matter what the content of a protest, who calls it etc. This is a matter related to the unconditional defence of the freedom of expression.

Esquerda Marxista is taking all necessary steps to reverse this decision. But, it is essential to organise the broadest political unity and solidarity against this attack. We ask that this article is shared widely in order to give these events publicity.

An injury to one is an injury to all! We won't accept it! We must react in a united way against this entire offensive of repression and criminalisation of social movements!


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