Curitiba (PR) councilor Renato Freitas (PT) gave a live interview to the Brazil de Fact Paraná this Thursday morning (23). It was the first conversation with the press after the removal of his mandate, consummated in a session held on the afternoon of this Wednesday (22).
Freitas recounted the daily racism he suffered during his legislative work and stated that he will fight an eight-year suspension of his political rights. “I am confident that the Judiciary will recognize the nullities that led to this process, the hasty way in which it was conducted, which prevented my defence, the early statements by members of the Ethics Committee that they would vote against me,” he said.
One of the three black parliamentarians elected in 2020 to the Chamber of Curitiba, Renato Freitas was accused of breaking parliamentary decorum after participate in anti-racist act, in February, which culminated in the protesters entering the Church of Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos de São Benedito, in the capital of Paraná. The PT was accused of leading the act, disturbing religious worship and carrying out a political act within the church.
Renato stated that the impeachment is, in fact, another expression of an “absolutely hostile” climate, with explicit demonstrations of racism directed at him by colleagues.
“In official sessions of the City Council, I was called a ‘moleque’, a ‘bro’ in a pejorative tone, a ‘pothead’. It was said that I didn’t have the maturity to be in that place. And the leader of the government in the Chamber, councilor Pier Petruzziello (PP), asked me if eventually I didn’t take cachaça to the Chamber, if I didn’t drink it before doing the sessions”, says Freitas.
The militant of the black movement also asked that his case not demobilize the youth and further distance young people from politics. “Don’t be discouraged by politics, on the contrary. It’s time for a radical change, and now is the time. If not us, who? And if not today, when? Be protagonists of your own stories,” he urged.
In official sessions of the City Council, I was called a ‘moleque’, a ‘bro’ in a pejorative tone, a ‘pothead’.
Ironies and injustices
Renato points out that the first to ask for his impeachment was former councilor Eder Borges (PP), who released a distorted version of the act carried out by the black movement in Curitiba on February 5, in protest against the death of immigrant Moïse Kabagambe. . “He created the fake news that I would have invaded a church, interrupted a mass and mistreated old people. This is all a lie and has already been proven.”
The coincidence, ironically Freitas, is that Borges had his mandate revoked before him precisely for spreading fake news and hate speech. In 2016, when the movement to occupy public schools by students in Paraná was taking place, Borges shared a publication with a montage that showed a communist flag in a photo of Colégio Estadual do Paraná, with the phrase: “Communist flag is hoisted in high school do Paraná APP [Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação Pública do Paraná ] do this to your child.”
Eder Borges lost his mandate in the Chamber of Curitiba, after being convicted by the Court of Justice of Paraná (TJ-PR) for the crime of defamation, in a lawsuit filed by APP Sindicato. “But that wasn’t enough to open the eyes of the councilors of Curitiba, who didn’t really want to open their eyes”, says Freitas.
Don’t be discouraged by politics, on the contrary. It’s time for a radical change, and now is the time.
back to base
While trying to reverse the decision in the Judiciary, due to the cassation process that he considers a true “show of horrors”, Freitas intends to continue his work with grassroots movements, in projects of the Núcleo Periférico, an organization of which he is a founder.
One of them is called Narrativas Marginals, which offers classes in cinema, music and literature to young people from neighborhoods on the periphery, who receive R$ 100 a month as a subsistence allowance. The objective is to professionalize young people, but also to “give a voice”, so that “from music, literature and cinema, they tell their own stories”, explains Renato.
Another project works with ex-prisoners. “There will be professionalization, art, culture and education, awareness-raising lectures, as well as criminology, so that they understand how the mechanisms of punishment, capture, surveillance that the Brazilian State imposes on the marginalized population work”.
“It is a fulfilling project for my life. I did not have a father precisely because my father fell into the webs of the prison system, he died very early, earlier than I am today, many friends were also criminalized in my journey”, he says. “I lived next to the Piraquara prison complex for 15 years and saw how destructive a prison can be,” he says.
It is for the institutional struggle that I am making myself heard here for you, so it is not a minor struggle.
Despite the impeachment and the hostile environment experienced by him, Renato stressed the importance of fighting, also, in the institutional way.
“I believe it is a way of struggle, as people are in fact willing to sacrifice everything for justice and freedom, including their mandate. Only when it reaches that level of sacrifice will the institutional struggle make any sense, because it will be radically transformed,” he defended.
“It is for the institutional struggle that I am making myself heard here for you, so it is not a minor struggle. I continue to bet on these movements as a real force, and on the institutional struggle as a representational force.”
Renato wants to encourage young people, especially blacks and peripherals who see themselves represented in it, to dare to occupy the spaces of power in place of the elite that historically dominates institutional politics.
“These are people who work for money and against life, who work to devalue life. Which, ultimately, act so that people die, if not by an action, then by a planned omission. Young people feel that politics is more and more like that, it is planned death.”
Quoting the São Paulo poet Sergio Vaz, he says that “it takes a heart on fire to keep dreams warm. So light fires, the fires of hope.”
Editing: Nicolau Soares