Procedural intimidation of teachers

György Kepes, Hand on the Floor, c.1939–40.
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By MARCO MONDAINI*

Open Letter to the Ministers of Education, Human Rights and Racial Equality

Dear Ministers Camilo Santana and Silvio Almeida / Dear Minister Anielle Franco,

The amount and dimension of the problems to be faced by the three ministries led by Your Excellencies are enormous, after the destruction carried out by the proto-fascist government of Jair Bolsonaro for four years. Occasional problems created between 2019 and 2022 and, mainly, problems of a structural nature that were exacerbated in such a situation, which we struggled to overcome with the election of President Lula, on October 3rd and 30th of last year.

Due to its openly anti-intellectual nature, the past government harassed and persecuted professors and researchers on a daily basis, especially those linked to Universities, institutes and federal public research centers.

However, anyone who imagines that the wave of persecution of university professors and researchers is a monopoly of the extreme right forces gathered around the Bolsonarist government leadership is wrong – unfortunately, it was not and is not.

For about two years, since 2021, for example, a group of eight professors from the Federal University of Pernambuco, five of whom are black, has been suffering a series of internal processes, within the scope of crimes against honor, instituted by departments belonging to the its Education Center, the academic unit to which the current dean and his chief of staff are linked, by the way.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the processed colleagues – who do not belong to the Department and the Center where I have been working since August 2004 – on the occasion of the founding of the Institute of African Studies at UFPE and, among these, there are professors who created the Nucleus of Afro-Brazilian Studies and were the first to teach the discipline of African History at the university. Also, among those prosecuted, there is a professor who has been making important contributions about the history of UFPE during the civil-military dictatorial regime inaugurated on March 31, 1964.

Now, as journalists from independent channels are well aware, lawsuits have a huge capacity for intimidation insofar as they involve costs related to hiring lawyers for the accused party, as well as emotional impacts that trigger numerous psychological disorders. The eight professors who have gone through, or are still going through, internal processes know very well what is being said here.

Well then, dear Ministers Camilo Santana, Silvio Almeida and dear Minister Anielle Franco, in the face of the “deafening silence” existing within the university campus, I ask Your Excellencies to become aware of what is happening with the eight professors prosecuted by the University’s Education Center Federal District of Pernambuco, at the same time that I hope that measures will be taken in order to make them stop carrying the intimidating weight of internal processes on their shoulders, as a substitute for academic and political debate, with all its inevitable consensus and dissent .

Democratic greetings and in defense of human rights!

Marco Mondaini, historian, is a professor at the Department of Social Work at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) and coordinator and presenter of the Trilhas da Democracia program.


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