“I always joke that Grajaú is my country”, says sociologist and popular educator Guilherme Simões, new national secretary of Policies for Peripheral Territories in the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), about adapting to Brasília (DF).
Born in the south zone of São Paulo, and a member of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) in the capital of São Paulo, Simões sees the move to the federal capital as the first of his challenges in command of the Secretariat for Peripheries – as the portfolio has been called. , linked to the Ministry of Cities, by Jader Filho (MDB).
From housing occupations and popular movement meetings to offices and public offices, Simões has the task of articulating solutions for the urbanization of slums and risk areas, in addition to dialoguing with city halls and social movements from the periphery of Brazil.
The new secretary received the Brazil in fact in his new room, in a commercial building rented by the federal government in Asa Norte, formerly occupied by the Ministry of Regional Development under former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL).
With less than a month in office, Simões is still forming the secretariat team, which should have around 20 employees. He admits that one of the positive surprises of the first days working in public power was finding a large number of employees engaged and committed to the agenda, many of them excited about the possibility of working on the topic.
“Periphery not center”
With the team formed, according to the secretary, the great challenge will be “to place the periphery at the center of the debate on urban policy”.
“When you talk about urban policy, you think about the following: when you see a favela, the urban policy is that this favela no longer exists. What is the urban policy? Take these people out and make everything beautiful. But, it can’t be like that Favelas are a reality. They try to criminalize, destroy and burn them, but they exist. It is necessary to think of solutions for these people”, explains Simões.
“The climate change we are experiencing will generate problems that these people will have to deal with in their reality. The challenge is to think of solutions to preserve lives, especially in the face of the tragedies that are getting worse, such as floods and landslides”, says the secretary .
To respond to the challenges he will have in his portfolio, Simões argues that public policies should be guided by what the peripheries themselves already produce as urban policy solutions. According to the secretary, recognition of the actions of popular movements and peripheral communities is essential.
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Asked by the report about how he intends to promote social participation in the secretariat’s policies, the member of the MTST said that the “new cycle of social participation” depends not only on the reconstruction of formal structures, such as councils and conferences, but, precisely, on valuing the popular initiatives such as policies to confront inequalities.
“We urgently need to create social mobilization technologies that go beyond what has already been done. Not in conflict with what has already been done, but rather helping to overcome it. It is necessary to recognize that organized groups and movements are acting and proposing policies public policy, which can be integrated into state public policy”, argues Simões.
“The guy who does a business, for example, like Dinei (Medina) does (promotes the sustainable development of low-income communities through solar energy) in a favela like Chapéu Mangueira, is doing public policy. I got everything wrong about public policy. The actions that the MTST, the MST and various movements built can be integrated into public policy. This is a fundamental step to create a real social participation mechanism, and not just a formal one”, he concluded.
Editing: Nicolau Soares
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