Public Universities in Brazil Censor Talk on Victims of Communism
EspañolBrazil was one of many participants paying tribute to the victims of communism on the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution, organizing “Victims of Communism Week: 100 Years of the Greatest Tragedy of the Twentieth Century” from November 6 to 10.
However, the authorities at the Federal University of Santa Catarina revoked the permit to hold the event that had been granted a month prior. Several publications covered the canceled, which they said is not an isolated incident. Last night at the Federal University of Bahia, the same thing happened: A conservative philosopher was forbidden from showing a video presentation, causing organizers to argue that academic hegemony in public universities trends to the left.
According to the official page of the commemoration:
From November 6 to 10, 2017, Florianópolis was to host various events aimed at showing the history and legacy of the communist regimes. With the support of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and the Mises Brasil Institute, the Victims of Communism Week had planned to disseminate the history and legacy of communism, the untold history of the Soviet Union, and its supported regimes as presented by experts and people directly affected by these regimes.
Many of the speakers were experts in both law and economics, while others offered accounts from victims of socialist regimes in Venezuela and Ukraine. The event would have been the second demonstration of one of the most brutal genocides in history, caused by the hunger imposed on those who refused to surrender their private property in the collectivization programs of the Soviet socialist regime that killed at least seven million Ukrainians during the phenomenon known as Holodomor (artificial hunger) between 1931 and 1932. A photo exhibition on “Memory of the Victims of Communism and Holomodor” hadalso been planned by members of The Witness Project, as well as talks by:
-Valerii Hryhorash (Consul of Ukraine in Brazil)
-Hélio Beltrão (President of the Mises Brasil Institute)
-Renata Ramos (PhD in Law from the UFSC)
– Fábio Barbieri (Doctor in Economics from USP)
-Raphael Lima (Ideas Radicales)
-Anselmo Heidrich (Author of “Do not Blame Capitalism”)
-Cristofer Correia (Government Coordinator of Voluntad Popular, Venezuela)
-Gabriel Cesar de Andrade (Vice President of IFL-SC)
-Ivanildo Tercer (Communication Director of the SFLB)
-Daniel Arturo Lezama (Student Coordinator for Freedom Venezuela)
We spoke with one of the main coordinators, Student Counciler Bruno Souza about the event’s cancellation:
The justification was bureaucratic, but completely outlandish and we know that the real objective is ideological. They claim that the teacher who initially requested the use of the auditorium withdrew the request one day before the event, and that this would make it impossible to have the event. Another teacher, on the same day, again authorized the event since it had already been authorized more than one month ago and 300 participants were already registered.
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After the authorization by the second teacher, the Director of the CSE (the teaching center where the event occurred), ordered the cancelation of the event without further explanation, and offered no alternative (he claims to have offered an alternative venue next door, and that the scheduled auditorium was needed for another event). There is simply no explanation for what has been done other than censorship and ideological persecution.
The professors of the university have political tendencies, and it’s only natural that this be the case. The sad thing is to see that the majority will not allow a platform for dissenting points of view to be heard. They prefer to bully and censor them. It’s absolutely normal to disagree with a person. What should not happen is to prevent those whom you disagree with from speaking, especially when the event in question has already been scheduled a month in advance.
Openness on the left
It’s difficult to say that there is a great ideological openness, in light of the censorship that just took place, but I think we’re changing the scenario. The popular and academic reaction of teachers and students to what happened shows that the time for censorship is over. The purpose of a university is to have an open debate and exchange of ideas, not to serve for the religious indoctrination of a rigid dogma.
The difficulties of defending freedom in Brazil
The biggest challenge for these types of activists rests in overcoming the obstacle of established interest groups who have been in power for a long time, and they do not take well to events that undermine their ideological authority. This is true both for protected sectors of a certain market and for certain ideological groups accustomed to never being questioned academically. This is, in my opinion, the greatest challenge for defenders of freedom in politics and in the university: to have resilience to the point of defending it despite what organized groups think and how much they will try to silence those who oppose them.
Thanks to the pressure exerted, both by teachers and by the organizers themselves, the presentation finally did take place in one of the CSE rooms. The university was informed by way of a note.
In Bahia, on the other hand, they had to project the video of the conservative philosopher Olao de Carvalho against the wall on the outside of the building. Things were so bad that Cezar Leite, councilor of Salvador (Bahia) has just filed a complaint against the “communist rector” of the UFBA demanding that the institution explain their reasons for censoring Olavo de Carvalho’s video. This measure is being taken in defense of freedom of expression and the constitution.
These incidents are similar to what happens on university campuses in North America, both in the US and Canada. Words like “fascists” and “white supremacists” are used to describe anyone who is not on the left. Unfortunately, some of those present learned from this shameful practice and were shouting the same sort of nonsense. Images of the event demonstrate the absurdity of these accusations. The participants were as ethnically diverse as they were ideologically. So much so that there were demonstrators calling for “death of Christians” against some participants, as seen in the video.
This situation shows how the universities across the Americas, particularly those that receive state funding, show an increasing aversion on the part of their teachers and administrators to freedom of expression and a rise not only of authoritarianism but of support for historically tyrannical regimes. Nevertheless, there is a movement that opposes this tendency despite receiving threats and having their events shut down, and who are fighting to defend freedom.