Smashing the Clocks of Domination

from Willful Disobedience

On April 22, the government and the ruling class of Brazil wanted to celebrate the 500 year anniversary of its "discovery" by Europeans prepared to dominate and exploit the resources and people of the land, imposing expansionist and mercantile value.

Globo network, Brazil’s largest entertainment corporation, has been the main promoter of this celebration. For several years, Globo has been putting on events promoting this celebration, and has built big clocks in all the state capitals of Brazil in celebration of the 500 years.

But during the week that ended on April 22, there was a large mobilization of indigenous people, students, landless and others to demonstrate against the nationalist and capitalist ideals behind the celebration.

It was the largest mobilization of indigenous people ever known in Brazil. The indigenous people were going to Porto Seguro—where the Portuguese arrived in 1500 and where the official celebrations would take place on April 22—went through Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, where they shot their arrows at the Globo clock until they stopped it. One of them managed to enter the national congress and pass through security with an arrow in his hand pointing at one of the most powerful men in Brazil, Senator ACM, the "emperor" of the state of Bahia.

The president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, was afraid of going to Porto Seguro on April 22 due to the mobilization of indigenous people, the landless and people in general to demonstrate against the celebration. Even a week before the celebration, this pathetic ruler still wasn’t sure if he should go, he was so worried about his security. One television news media head condemned the landless as anti-democratic because they made the democratically elected president afraid to go where he wanted in the country--an accusation that reveals more about the real nature of democracy than anything else.

In fact, the democratic state declared war on the people: on the indigenous, on the landless, on blacks and on anyone who wanted to go the the demonstrations in Porto Seguro--or more accurately heated up the war the exploiters perpetually wage against the exploited. Thousands of cops and soldiers stopped the landless, indigenous, blacks and other protesters on the roads of Porto Seguro. In the last several weeks before the celebration every car or person that tried to enter the city was searched for dangerous items.

There was a big confrontation on the road in which a group consisting mostly of indigenous people, but also of landless, blacks, workers students and anarcho-punks battled the police. 150 people were arrested. One heard more about the violence and the protests than the celebration. The democratic state of Brazil was forced to show its real face by using police tactics in its attempts to quell the mobilization and celebrate the 500 years of domination. But of course we know that behind every democracy stands the gun and the billy club--to enforce the "will of the people".

The landless movement planned its own "celebration" involving the intensification of land occupations.

In many cities the Globo clocks--the main symbol of the celebration and a heartlessly ironic reminder of how the time of domination weighs on the exploited--were smashed in the last week before the celebration, In fortaleza on April 18, 400 students and workers smashed the clock and fought the police. In Recife on April 22, landless and homeless people threw Molotov cocktails at the clock. It was said that indigenous people smashed the clock in Rio de Janeiro, though this has not been confirmend. In Porto Alegre--a city run by leftists in a state run by leftists the clock was completely burned on April 22. In Florianopolis, on the same day, around 300 people--most of them students--threw some paint on the clock and organized a demonstration and more direct action, taking over a park that has been closed by the mayor. There were eight arrests and several injuries, including that of one person who was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. It is likely that the Globo clocks in some of the other 20 odd cities where they were built were also attacked.

It is no surprise that the celebrators would use the supreme symbol of the measurement of exploitation to celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of their dominiation in the region, and it is no surprise that those risingf up against their rule would attack this monstrous symbol of the rule of measured time over their lives.