In the capital Brasilia some 7,000 students and university professors marched to Congress, carrying signs against the cuts. One said: “Education is not an expense, it is an investment.” Another read: “Without investment there is no knowledge.”
“Our message to Bolsonaro is that society will not accept these cuts of 30 percent,” said marcher Luis Antonio Pasquetti, head of the National University of Brasilia’s teacher union.
There was no official nationwide crowd estimate available, but the protests were likely the largest such gatherings since the 2016 impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff.
“The importance is to show that civil society is organized against these cuts,” said Rodrigo Tonieto, 22, in Sao Paulo. “Together, we are going to say ‘no’ to the Bolsonaro government … To say ‘no’ to the mess that this government is.”
Called to explain the cuts to lawmakers in Congress, Education Minister Abraham Weintraub blamed the situation on the legacy of the previous government, while defending a shift away from spending on universities to favor elementary schools.
“The priority is preschool, elementary school and technical school,” he said. “A scientific, technical, number-based, efficient and managerial approach is vital to save this country from the economic stagnation of the last 20 years that we are living.”