Brazil: Nationwide protests against education savings plans

In Porto Alegre, the capital Brasília and in Rio de Janeiro, during the hours-long protests on Wednesday (local time) there were confrontations between demonstrators and the police, as the portal Uol reported. The officers used tear gas to disperse the crowd. But nobody was hurt. President Jair Bolsonaro, in office since January, called the demonstrators “useful idiots”.

They are “maneuvering masses” of a minority of know-it-alls, forming the core of many universities, said the ex-military in the US, where he was on his second visit since taking office. “You do not even know the chemical formula of the water or know how much is 7×8,” said Bolsonaro, looking at the demonstrators. The new Education Minister Abraham Weintraub had recently announced the austerity plans. Among other things, about two billion real (about 445 million euros) in higher education – both schools and universities – could be eliminated, as the broadcaster BBC Brasil reported.

In many schools and universities due to the protests on Wednesday, lessons and lectures were canceled, even professors and some parties reportedly participated in the demonstrations. Solely in Salvador da Bahia in the northeast of the country, according to the organizers, about 50,000 people took to the streets, as the portal Globo reported. There were about 20,000 demonstrators in Rio Grande in the south of Brazil.