Solidarity needed: Brazil welcomes Obama with the arrest of 13 political prisoners

Obama visit marked by arrests of protesters against US role

Thirteen people were arrested during a peaceful rally held in Rio de Janeiro during President Obama’s visit on Sunday, 20 March. The protest, which had 400 participants, including children, and which was organized by a national trade union and popular organization (CSP-Conlutas), the Free National Assembly of Students (ANEL), and trade unions. It was also supported by the Unified Socialist Workers Party – a national left wing party (PSTU).

It was publicly and intensely announced in the local midia. The protest (as with many others which were happening around the country) was called to denounce Obama´s visit as part of a process of surrendering Brazilian national resources (mainly oil) through the so called “free trade” agreements which can only hurt the Brazilian population.

As can be clearly seen in the images reproduced in a press release ( drafted by the PSTU (to which 10 of the political prisoners are affiliated), the participants of the rally were just expressing their opinions when they were brutally assaulted by the police forces commanded by the state governor Sérgio Cabral.

After tear gassing the crowd, beating dozens and arresting 13 people, the police alleged that the repression was “justified” because a Molotv cocktail was thrown in front of the Consulate. Even accepting that an object was thrown against the building, the organizers argued that not one of the arrested was involved in such activity. Many of the participants think the object was thrown by an agent provocateur.

As was pointed out by Cyro Garcia, the President of PSTU in Rio de Janeiro: “What is happening at the moment is shameful. This is a political arrest. These are political prisoners of Sergio Cabral and Dilma’s governments. The police forces know that those arrested are innocent. There are people in jail just because they raised a shoe against USA flag. This is absurd. They are turning the protests of a political party into a crime. It’s outrageous that the police show photographs of political banners and party flags as proof of a crime, as if they were weapons”.

Civil Rights attacked under Obama´s shadow

Intensively promoted as a meeting of the “the first woman” and “the first Afro-american” to lead their respective countries, the summit involving Dilma Rousseff and Barack Obama, even before starting, has already showed the true face of both leaders: to defend the econom ic and political interests of the USA, Obama intends to submit the "third world to US interests". And, unfortunately, in or to please the North American boss, Dilma´s government has no limits. Even if it means the repression and arrest of Brazilian citizens.

Free the thirteen!

The arrested workers and students (including a 17 years old boy) are facing many charges, and are not entitled to bail. After spending the night in city jails, they were taken, at 8 am, to State Prisons, (the infamous Bangu e Água Santa facilities).

In the face of false accusations with very serious legal consequences can have for the prisoners, PSTU decided to launch an international campaign to free the thirteen political prisoners with the support of the LSR (CWI Brazil). As Garcia, the president of the party stated, “we are concerned about the safety of our militants, the governor is responsible for their integrity and we will not rest until every single one of them is out of the prison and free of all charges”.

T o sign up a petition to free the political prisoners, access the following address:

Complete list of the political prisoners due to Obama´s visit in Brazil.

  • Andriev Martins Santos – student of the Fluminense Federal University
  • Gabriela Proença da Costa – student of Fine Artes at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and leader of the local Student´s Association.
  • Gilberto Silva – electrician
  • Gualberto Tinoco "Pitéu" – public servicer and leader of the State Trade Union for Teachers in the Public Sector.
  • João Paulo – high school student at the Colégio Pedro II
  • José Eduardo Braunschweiger – lawyer
  • Maria de Lurdes Pereira da Silva – maid
  • Pâmela Rossi – teacher
  • Rafael Rossi – teacher and leader of the state trade union of the sector.
  • Thiago Loureiro – Law Scholl student the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, employee of the Trade Union of Justice System Workers.
  • Vagner Vasconcelos – Brazilian MV Moviment
  • Yuri Proença da Costa – worker of the Post Offices


PSTU-RJ – (21) 2232-9458

Cyro Garcia – (21) 8249 5880

Dr Aderson Bussinger (lawyer) (21) 8754.7837

CSP-Conlutas RJ – (21) 25091856

Please send copies of your protests to LSR (CWI Brazil):

For further information and images:

PSTU RJ – (21) 9511.0045

PSTU national (11) 6792.3022

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March 2011