São Paulo (Brazil): Dozens of buildings are squatted against the backdrop of social movement against austerity

During the night between Sunday 30 October and Monday 31, dozens of buildings were squatted in São Paulo. The action was coordinated by several homeless movements, including the FLM (Frente de Luta por Moradia) and the MMPT (Movimento de Moradia Para Todos).

Beyond the struggle for housing, the action was also made in solidarity with the current social movement against austerity measures taken by the government.

More than 1200 schools and almost 150 universities are currently occupied by students throughout the whole country against the austerity policy of Michel Temer’s ultra-liberal government. Temer is officially ruling the country since August after a sort of institutional coup which replaced the PT government (Worker’s Party, in power for almost 15 years).

The social movement – which has the slogan « OcupaTudo » («Occupy everything ») – began a few weeks ago in response to a proposal to amend the constitution, in order to freeze government expenditures in public health and education sectors. Here is an excerpt from the communiqué published by the homeless movements after the occupations of the buildings:

“The violence against workers spreads (…). The purpose of PEC 241 (proposal to amend the constitution) is to put an end to pensions, public healthcare, public education  and social support  (…). The economic reality seems to become each day harder, the workers’ hunger and desperation will increase. Homeless people will be directly affected. The apparatus of oppression – security forces, judicial power, mainstream media etc. – is going to act in order to protect property, those who run the state and their economical interests. The only thing that remains for the workers and homeless people is the struggle. The struggle for their rights and for justice. To occupy empty properties and search a shelter for their families (…). While the students are occupying schools and conducting a legitimate struggle for education, we are occupying the empty buildings in order to ensure social justice and conquer our proper accommodation”.

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Of the nine buildings that were squatted during this night, one of them, in Santa Cecilia neighbourhood, was violently evicted by the Military Police.

Two days afterwards, the FLM tried to occupy another building, in the centre of the city, but the 250 occupiers were soon evicted by the Military Police. They tried to resist and placed some barricades on the neighbouring sidestreets. A few of them were wounded and a journalist was hurt by a close range flash-ball shot. Three persons were arrested.

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Sources: PortalFLM, G1, Agência Brasil, Folha de SP.