Ana Caroline Campagnolo is a 27-year-old high-school history teacher. For several years she has waged a campaign to rid Brazil’s education system of what she believes to be deep-rooted “communist indoctrination.” That activism won her a seat in the Santa Catarina statehouse representing the Social Liberal Party of far-right president-elect Jair Bolsonaro.
Just hours after Brazil’s presidential election results rolled in, Campagnolo posted a message on her Facebook page calling on students to film and report teachers who express negative views about Bolsonaro’s victory.
“Monday, Oct. 29, is the day that indoctrinated professors will be revolted. Many of them will not contain their rage and will make the classroom a captive auditorium for their political complaints as a result of Bolsonaro’s victory,” she wrote.
The message went viral. Bolsonaro shared his own video in support of the initiative and called for it to be duplicated around the country. Teachers called the move censorship. Federal prosecutors opened an investigation. At universities across Brazil, many are worried: “There is a climate of tension and of fear,” says Adriana D’Agostini, an education professor at the Santa Catarina Federal University.
Three days after Campagnolo posted her message on Facebook, a court in Florianópolis ordered the post to be taken down and threatened to fine her if it wasn’t. But many believe this is only the beginning. Under Brazil’s military dictatorship, which ruled from 1964 to 1985 – when thousands were tortured and hundreds killed – education was strictly policed. Curriculums and materials were developed and approved by the regime. Students were encouraged to tell on their peers and their teachers.
According to D’Agostini, Campagnolo’s post was a harsh reminder that a return to those days may not be far away. The country’s next president is a far-right former military captain who served under Brazil’s last dictatorship. Bolsonaro has been known for his sexist, racist and homophobic remarks as a congressional representative, as well as for his harsh criticism of the country’s democracy. Bolsonaro has vowed to “end activism in Brazil” and attack his political opponents head-on.
Bolsonaro won the country’s Oct. 28 election with over 55 percent of the vote. Brazil’s education system is likely to be one of his first targets.
According to Reuters, the former head of the Brazilian military’s tech center, Alessio Ribeiro Souto, is slated to become education minister. Souto has said he wants to eliminate sex education, require that creationism be taught alongside evolution, and revise school materials to include a more “balanced” view of the country’s military dictatorship.
Two months – that is how much time teachers and students, unions and social movements, feminists and the LGBT community, have to prepare for the coming assault.