In October 2019, the Brazilian section of the IMT organised a public campaign “In Defence of the life of Professor Mara”, demanding the compulsory transfer from the State Technical School of Franco da Rocha (Metropolitan Region of São Paulo) of neo-Nazi students who threatened a teacher’s life, plotting her murder through a WhatsApp group.
The threats, prejudice and messages condoning Nazism began in 2018 when a group of students converted the classroom instant messaging group into a space to attack the freedom of teaching and to spread hatred against the teacher. These students changed the group’s name to “Long live the Revolution! Death to Mara”. The content of the messages was only shared with the teacher in April 2019, when she took legal action to protect her life, and called on the management of the school to open an application to demand the compulsory transfer of students who wrote “Death to Mara” in the group. However, the request was denied by the school board and, subsequently, also by the Paula Souza Center (CPS) – the institution responsible for the administration of technical schools in the state of São Paulo.
We transcribe part of the content of the screenshots so that the seriousness of the situation can be properly understood:
“Death to Mara”, “Mara will enjoy me punching her in the mouth”, “Death to Mara, this is already my slogan, all my disciples must repeat it”, “I’m going to kill that old bastard, she knows how to wake my inner Hitler”, “I’m going to prepare homemade gas, follow her to her home and leak it into the building. When she leaves I’ll be waiting with an axe”, “If it was up to me we would throw that deaf kid and her in the same gas chamber”, “I’m going to tattoo the words FILED on her forehead using branding iron, just for her to know how it was like in the concentration camps”, “First, a big fuck for all the useless books you forced us to read, instead of teaching us the real course like a decent teacher. And a big, gigantic stick up your ass for that childish sociology report you asked us to do, it was the most demanding and useless thing in the whole year, you fucking old obese woman (…) and now, close to the end of the year, you want us to do a fucking model (…) And last, if there is something I want for Christmas is that you die in a painful way, so that I don’t have to cope with your horrible teaching methods, which didn’t help during the entire year”.
In early 2020, the teacher received the news that these students will not be transferred and that she is obliged to teach classes to those who threatened her with death! The CPS board and investigation committee, which collected testimonials from students and teachers about the case, concluded that the content of the messages is not sufficient proof that these students would actually carry out their threats. It suggested disciplinary and “educational” measures, in addition to the teacher’s classes being assigned class assistants. Far from protecting the teacher, they are actually watching their classes, taking away her professional rights and forcing her to work with those who made the threats!
We are in the second year of Bolsonaro’s government in Brazil. This government, even though it does not have a real basis for a fascist regime, has demonstrated its reactionary and obscurantist character several times, with attacks on public education and seeking to lower the quality of public education through budget cuts. In addition, there have been several demonstrations that government officials sympathise with and encourage Nazi ideas, such as Bolsonaro’s statements about chasing “the reds”, the former secretary of culture that practically plagiarised the visuals and rhetoric of Nazi Propaganda Minister Goebbels etc. The Bolsonaro government has also declared itself in favour of the “Escola Sem Partido” (party-political-free schools) project, which is basically an attempt to denounce and harass teachers and students who talk about politics in the classroom. These events have stimulated the emergence of neo-Nazi groups, who are starting to stick their heads out of their holes and express themselves more boldly in various ways, like wearing Nazi bracelets, grouping together on public roads, attacking the headquarters of the comedy group Porta dos Fundos (in retaliation for their staging a play in which Jesus is depicted as homosexual), or using death threats like these students did.
There have been cases of massacres in public schools in Brazil, with connections to Nazi groups. The most recent such event occurred in the state of São Paulo in March 2019, where five students, two employees and a shopkeeper were killed. Both students responsible for the killings had connections with Nazi groups and shared their views on forums on the DeepWeb. Professor Mara’s case is not an isolated one, and can’t be treated as a “joke”. This is why we reject the decision of the school board not to transfer the students involved! Support us in this cause! Submit a motion to pressure these educational leaders to change their decision!
We suggest the following text for the body of the emails and subject line, in order to express dissatisfaction with the result of the investigation and press for immediate actions in defence of teacher Mara’s life! Feel free to change the text:
Due to the blocking of the previous email subject “In defence of the life of Prof. Mara” by Paula Souza Centre and management, we suggest the subject line of the email should be: “Shame on the board of Centro Paula Souza! Nazis out of the school.”
The first email is for Liberdade e Luta, the organisation in charge of the campaign. The second is for the principal’s office of Dr Emilio Hernandez Aguilar Technical School, and the other two belong to Centro Paula Souza, which is in charge of the administration of the technical schools:
“I became aware that the Final Report of the Investigation Committee of Centro Paula Souza – established after the complaint made by the Campaign in Defence of Professor Mara’s Life, that students with neo-Nazi ideas at Franco da Rocha’s ETEC were organising a group on WhatsApp entitled ‘Death to Mara’, where they encouraged hatred and violence with Nazi overtones, and at various times conspired to assassinate the teacher – gave a positive opinion to the actions taken by the ETEC management. Namely: a verbal warning for all students who participated in the group and a written warning for the most aggressive student and group leader.
“I consider the pedagogical and administrative measures taken by the management and by the Paula Souza Center and suggested in the Final Report for the protection of teacher Mara to be totally insufficient. They do not guarantee her working conditions, which can only be really assured with the immediate transfer of those who wrote “Death to Mara” in the WhatsApp group.
“I openly reject the content and resolution of the school’s Verification Commission and, in addition to supporting the amendment of this decision by appeal, I DEMAND that students who wrote ‘Death to Mara’ are compulsorily transferred immediately in order to restore the psychological well-being and working conditions of teacher Mara!
“In defence of the life of teacher Mara!
“Compulsory Transfer of those who wrote ‘Death to Mara’!
“Nazis out of the school!
“Out with Bolsonaro!