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Leaving MEC, Weintraub decides to hinder access to social quotas in graduate school

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São Paulo – The Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub revoked the affirmative action policy that reserved places for black, indigenous and disabled people in the graduate programs of federal universities. Published on Thursday (18), Ordinance No. 545 of 2020, frightens the effect of Normative Ordinance No. 13 of 2016. Created in the government of Dilma Rousseff (PT), the rule dealt with the institutionalization of the reservation system for vacancies for master’s and doctoral programs.

With the minister’s decision, public higher education institutions are “released” from complying with affirmative actions as of today – date of publication of the measure in the Official Diary of the Union (DOU). But that does not mean the end of quotas in graduate school, as explained by the lawyer and professor at Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV), Thiago de Souza Amparo.

“The MEC Ordinance does not revoke the affirmative action policy at universities in graduate school, because their legal basis is the autonomous decisions of the universities themselves,” says the specialist in constitutional law and public and business policies of diversity and anti-discrimination through your profile on Twitter.

According to Amparo, Weintraub’s action “can be a disincentive, as an act of symbolic, illegal racism, but without the power to revoke policies”. The observation of the professor takes into account the data of the Multidisciplinary Study Group of Affirmative Action (Gemaa) linked to the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Uerj).

The group analyzed 49 public policies created in the period from 2002 to the beginning of 2017, and concluded that more than half of them resulted from initiatives of the graduate programs themselves (61.22%). Others (16.33%) by decision of the institute collegiate and (10.20%) by resolution of the university. While only (6.12%) were created via state law.

Political Symbology

The suspicion is that Weintraub’s attitude has more of a character of symbolic effect than strength. At the moment when several interlocutors of the Bolsonaro government anticipate the fall of the minister, newspaper report Folha de S. Paulo, highlights, for example, that, behind the scenes, the revocation of the quota policy in graduate school “was treated as a ‘mission’ that the minister wanted to fulfill”, before leaving office.

In a note to the vehicle, the MEC said, without answering the objectives that motivated Weintraub’s decision, that the Quota Law was provided “exclusively for undergraduate courses”. Despite the immediate effect, Congress, however, still needs to approve it within 120 days, when the measure expires.

Also through social networks, the philosopher, professor and jurist Silvio Almeida said he saw in the proposition another “tactic” to “destabilize, divert our attention”. “Take advantage of the anguish and fear that we inevitably feel and weaken us”, he wrote, asking for calm and continuity in the political agenda.

“To be ‘cold’ is to be strategic, to try to understand the movements of the game. I would be very concerned if the quota law or university autonomy were repealed. Or if the STF dramatically revises its jurisprudence ”, warns the lawyer.

Backfired racism

For Amparo e Almeida, Weintraub only “exposes the racism” that has marked his decisions since he entered the government. Researcher at AFRO – Research and Training Center on Race, Gender and Racial Justice, Anna Venturini still believes that the minister may have backfired.

Venturini is the author of the thesis published by the Gemaa group that proves university autonomy. Entitled “Affirmative action in graduate school: the challenges of expanding an inclusion policy”, the work also won, in May, the prize for best political science thesis from the Institute of Social and Political Studies (Iesp-Uerj).

“The number of federal universities and AA (affirmative action) graduate programs has grown considerably in the past four years. And I don’t believe that the institutions stop discussing such policies because of the revocation ”, he explained, also Twitter. “Perhaps the minister’s shot backfires. The issue of AAs in graduate school had much less visibility, compared to discussions about graduation. The revocation can – who knows – give more visibility to the topic and empower groups to start debates in their departments ”.

The researcher recalls the entire history of Weintraub’s attacks on education, but reinforces that the change in the ordinance “does not revoke affirmative actions in graduate school”. In addition to “not preventing universities and programs from continuing to create these policies,” he summarizes.

“The Bolsonaro government has always taken a stand against racial equity policies in higher education and other areas, but the quota laws at graduation and competitions depend on longer processes to be revoked (and it would be unconstitutional)”, he highlights.

Repercussion and opposition

In view of the symbolic effect of his decision, possibly the last of his tenure, the minister must respond to the actions taken by entities and parliamentarians of the opposition to the government. Federal deputies Maria do Rosário (PT-RS) and Margarida Salomão (PT-MG) presented the Legislative Decree Project (PDL) 278 to counter the effects of Weintraub’s ordinance.

The National Graduate Association (ANPG) considers that the measure may affect institutions that had not yet implemented quota programs. To the news portal G1, ANPG informed that it will also appeal the decision. The National Union of Students (UNE) considered the fact as “very serious” and demanded the immediate action of the National Congress.

Edition: Fábio M. Michel

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Economy

Killed by explosions in Beirut, Lebanon, reach 137

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São Paulo – Ammonium nitrate, a material used in explosives and fertilizers used in agriculture, may be responsible for the explosions that devastated this Tuesday (4) the port region of Beirut, in Lebanon. There are already 137 dead, according to the balance of this Thursday (6) of the spokesman of the Ministry of Health of the country. Dozens more are still missing and more than 5,000 are injured.

There is still no concrete information on the cause of the two explosions. According to Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud, they were said to have occurred shortly after a fire in a port depot that stored a large amount of ammonium nitrate. A team of firefighters was called to the scene to control the fire. And then there was a first explosion, weaker, followed by a second strong one.

According to the director general of General Security Abbas Ibrahim, the main hypothesis is that the explosions are actually related to potentially explosive materials, which would be stored in the warehouse for six years and without the necessary security.

Yesterday, Lebanese authorities announced that officials responsible for the port will be under house arrest until suspicions are proven. The same material would have been responsible for similar tragedies in Germany and the United States.

Geopolitics and the explosions in Beirut

President of the Arab Culture Institute, Mohamed Habib confirms that nitrate salts can be flammable depending on the physical conditions in which they are stored. But in an interview with Marilu Cabañas, Newspaper Brasil Atual, the professor at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp) also considers that other hypotheses cannot be ruled out by the authorities.

A specialist in the field of Environmental Sciences and former coordinator of International Relations at Unicamp, Habib explains that it is “difficult in the current reality in the Middle East and Lebanon to try to imagine or estimate suspects. The scenario is so complex that it is difficult to say whether an accident was a natural incident. Or an act committed in an illegal and criminal way ”, he observes.

Due to the damage caused by the explosion that left thousands homeless and was felt throughout the expanded city, the professor raises doubts about the risk of an attack such as those committed against neighboring countries, such as Iran. The country has come from a series of protests since last year. There is great social dissatisfaction with the political class, with a scenario of high unemployment, uncontrolled inflation and currency devaluation.

Habid also remembers Lebanon’s external conflicts with Israel. Israeli officials quickly came forward to declare that they had not carried out any attacks, sympathizing with the Lebanese people. The quick defense was not for nothing. In his social networks, the professor of International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) Reginaldo Nasser, points out that, in 2006, Israel was responsible for surrounding Beirut and launching a rain of bombs that, equally, devastated the Lebanese capital.

People to rise

A sentence on the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who died 15 years ago in an explosion in the port of Beirut, would also be announced on Friday. The trial was postponed to August 28. ”Whether it has anything to do with it or not, we don’t know. There are several components, whether internal disturbance, or external. Even Donald Trump’s own re-election, which could also benefit from such a disorder. Everything is possible in the current situation ”, he says.

Whatever the causes, the suffering and pain of the Lebanese people remain enormous, says Habib. And also for the Lebanese community that lives in Brazil and among Syrian and Palestinian refugees. According to the United Nations (UN), 928,000 expatriates live in Lebanon, equivalent to 13.6% of the population.

“The world seems to me to have become smaller and the suffering seems to me to be felt faster and faster. A pandemic is a global pain, just as a war is a global pain. The whole world is suffering, ”laments the president of the Arab Culture Institute in Brazil.

Check out the interview

Copywriting: Clara Assunção. Edition: Glauco Faria

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