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Higher Education | USP and the TFP?

When Rodas was still a candidate for the office, in 2009, the Estado de S. Paulo grilled him on rumors that he maintained ties with the far-right groups Opus Dei and Tradtion, Family and Property.

Carta Capital runs a profile of the University of S. Paulo’s combative rector, Grandino Rodas — a second-place candidate for the office who was nevertheless appointed by Governor Serra.

I mean to incorporate related notes on (1) the difficulties to «brain-sharing» posed by a dysfunctional Brazilian academic culture; the scientific diplomacy of the Dilma government; and, incongruously but honest to God, a recent, modest but unsettling, resurgence of Tradition, Family and Property.

chronicle  by Cynara Menezes on a recent TFP gathering at S. Paulo’s wonderful Trianon park — my favortie place to smoke a cigar while reading the paper — shows that Brazilian TFPs are also fond of bagpipes.


Imagine a place with some 110,000 inhabitants and nearly 5 million square meters, completely enclosed and led by an admistrator who makes decisions without consulting a soul, resorts to police repression and banishment of dissidents, and employs spies to inform him of the activities of opponents.

Attacks on tenure and McCarthyite ideological purity tests.

No, this is not some tiny banana republica we are talking about here, it is largest university in Brazil, the University of S. Paulo, as governed by rector João Grandino Rodas, referred as The King by USPianos.

Since taking office in 2010, Rodas has taken a series of controversial measures that have undermined an administration that is, to say the least, not overly democratic.

In January of this year, documents emerged revealing the rector’s use of intelligence agents to report on meetings of employee, professors and staff. Created by a so-called “crisis room”, these reports lay out all the details of these gatherings, point by point, including the names of participants and their the party affiliations.

The most recent controversy involving Rodas is just coming into view: Last week, 73 tudents arrested during the occupation of the rectory in November 2011 began receiving summonses in a lawsuit brought by USP. The rector’s aim is not mere expulsion of the students, but their “elimination”, based on an internal rule dating back to the dictatorship: If found resonsible, none of the students or staff will be allowed readmittance or reemployed. They will be banished, that is to say.

Although the occupation was in fact viewed as a disaster even by the representatives of the students, the punishment is viewed as worthy of a dictatorship. This will be the first time since the dark days of the dictatorship that USP expels students en masse. Last December, six students were expelled for occupying the Coseas building in 2010. If the 73 are also expelled, USP will have gotten rid of an impressive 79 students in 2 years, that is, one-third of the students expelled during the 1964-1985 dictatorship:245, according to estimates by the Ministry of Justice.

When Rodas was still a candidate for the office, in 2009, the Estado de S. Paulo grilled him on rumors that he maintained ties with the rightist Opus Dei and Tradtional, Family and Property. In response, he described himself as “apolitical” and said, “I am a Catholic, but although I respect more specific movements inside the Church, I have never affiliated myself with them.

Actually, the democratic rejection of Rodas as rector arises from an antidemocrat decision: Grandino Rodas was the second-place candidate from a list of three, but Governor Serra, breaking with a tradition dating back to the return of democracy, selected him for the job.

The winning candidate and current president of the national council on research and science — CNPq — physicist  Glaucius Oliva has described himself as “disillusioned” and commented: “It is terrible when petty minds stoop so low as to contaminate academic concerns with politics

Immediately following Serra’s selection of Roda, students mounted their first protest, occupying the former rectory.


A k-neighborhood of tfp.org.br …

TFP is not signficantly related to the rest of the network except for its link with the brokerage-blogger at Frontal Lobe …

Above, a maximum flow between USP and FGV, two of Brazil’s premier institutions of higher learning. Further analysis readily shows a high degree of cohesion with think tanks and NGOs such as the Instituto Milennium and the Instituto Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the presidential library of FHC.

Veja magazine — and to a lesser extent Exame — often rent themselves out as partisan propaganda organs for S. Paulo’s ruling PSDB. That is a strong statement, I know, but buy me a coffee and I will lay it out for you. These people are really and truly unbelievable.