UFES pays tribute to dam victim Flávia Amboss
Flávia, present! Family members, friends, teachers and grassroots organizations are calling for justice.
Last Thursday afternoon (25), the date that marked six months since the attack on the schools in Aracruz, Espírito Santo, which fatally killed four people and injured 13 others, family members, friends, teachers and grassroots organizations paid tribute and demanded justice for Flávia Amboss. Flávia was a teacher, academic researcher and grassroots activist for the human rights of those affected by dams on the Rio Doce, and was murdered in the attack on the Primo Bitti school, where she taught. The meeting was organized by the Human and Natural Sciences Centre, the Social Sciences Department and the Social Sciences Academic Centre of the Federal University of Espírito Santo (UFES), and was held at the university itself.
Aline Trigueiro, who was Flávia’s teacher and advisor in the Study Group on Fishing Populations and Development, in the Social Sciences Department at UFES, highlighted the importance of holding the event. “I see this tribute from UFES as a symbolic milestone in the fight for life, against violence and fascism; an act to recognize Flávia’s career and her memory. But I also think of it as a moment of engagement by the university itself in the fight for justice. Speaking FLÁVIA’s name within the academic space she loved so much, and evoking the absurd violence she suffered (discussing the dangers of fascism in our society), makes this act stronger. I think it puts us under a political and moral obligation as people, teachers, social scientists, activists, to demand answers and action on the course of the trial of the crime, but it also puts us to think (even if for some it seems to be out of fashion) about what society we want to live in and how we are going to commit ourselves to this choice beyond our individual agendas and interests.”
Academic and Militant Career at UFES
Flávia Amboss’s name and career will always be remembered in the corridors of UFES, among both teachers and students. Flávia, who helped build the university’s Social Sciences Academic Center in 2004, is now an inspiration to students. For Mateus Barreto, if CA is today a space for critical thinking and movement, it’s because she was once there. “Today we are reaping the fruits of what she left here and this exercise in memory is so that we don’t forget that we move and articulate because she was here.”
Professor Aline, who presented some of Flávia’s academic career, spoke about her projects and her commitment to the university. And she emphasized how sensitive Flávia was, with a critical eye for the contradictions around her. “She [Flávia] was very committed to thinking about Capixaba society itself, thinking about the environmental issue in its social context. Always attentive to the contradictions, tensions and power relations between different groups, but with interests in common areas. He pointed out the need to think about political ecology. We have lost a person of great wisdom.
In the Movement of People Affected by Dams – MAB
Juliana Nicoli, a member of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos e Atingidas por Barragens – MAB), a fellow activist and friend of Flávia’s, spoke about her history with the MAB. Flávia, who lived in Regencia at the time of the Samarco dam collapse in Mariana in 2015, soon prepared herself and mobilized her community to denounce the arrival of the mud. As soon as the MAB arrived, they joined the movement. She began to mobilize and directed her studies towards understanding the impacts of the tailings on the affected communities. He dedicated himself to getting to know these communities, the people and families who became his companions and friends in the struggles over the course of seven years.
“Wherever Flávia went, she left a mark of struggle and also a mark of great affection and love. She was a much-loved member of our movement. And as part of our struggles, a recent achievement is the hiring of technical advice for those affected, which is already in the field. Flávia had a hand in this achievement. We have no doubt that if she were here today, she could coordinate any thematic area in the advisory service and help formulate and build the public policies we need to meet the demands of the affected peoples,” said Juliana.
Fascism in society and reflection on the escalation of violence
Why was Flavia the victim of a fascist attack in the middle of 2023?
Why were women teachers victims of fascist attacks?
Why was a school the victim of a fascist attack?
How can further attacks be prevented and what is being done by the state?
Throughout the afternoon, amid tributes and a lot of emotion, one topic raised and debated was the growing fascism in our society. The panel Means to combat neo-fascism: For an education in favor of life, coordinated by Professor Márcia Barros, from the Social Sciences Center, and with the participation of Professor Edite Maria Rosa, director of the Human and Natural Sciences Center at UFES, psychoanalyst Lohaine Jardim and Professor Maurício Abdala, from the Philosophy Department at UFES, spoke about the current situation in Brazil and Espírito Santo.
For Professor Maurício Abdala, from the Philosophy Department at UFES, the most critical – and sad – point is that this is not an isolated case. “We’re not talking about a person who died by accident, or an isolated case, the phenomenon we’re remembering, which was repeated in other places, that’s the great pain we have too, is a phenomenon that is a revelation, an emergence of a set of complex causes. And complex causes is different from complicated things. When we talk about complex cases, it means that this totality is made up of several causes that interact in a systemic way and this interaction results in cases like this and other cases. That’s why it’s not an isolated case. It’s the product of a whole set of things and it presents itself in various manifestations.” The issues raised by the professor make us think, but they still lack concrete answers from the state. What public policies could be put in place to effectively stop the fascist structure in society?
The tribute ended with a speech by João Paulo Liryo, Flávia’s companion and a MAB activist, followed by a speech by Grayce Lourdes Amboss, her mother.
The two thanked each other for the opportunity to be together and recounted their academic career, their struggles and the incredible person they love so much. And for all of you raising this issue, so that the search for justice doesn’t die either.
Grayce thanked her and spoke of how much she missed her daughter. “We are being violated on a daily basis by missing her, by her absence and by knowing that a person like the one you saw here – and it wasn’t us who spoke about her, but you who brought the testimonies – this being of light who came to this world and fought violence like never before, and was a victim of the very violence she fought.”
She ended the afternoon by calling on those present to fight, just as Flavia did. “She wasn’t afraid and didn’t give in to this fascist government that was there and only preached hatred. It’s very painful to be here today paying tribute to her. But she was great, she put her life into fighting this fascist government. May we also have courage. We cannot remain silent and for Flávia I will go as far as I need to go. And that’s it, I’m very proud, I’ve always been immensely proud of this being of light that the universe used my body to bring. I thank you immensely and I thank everyone who is here. May this day be a day of struggle for us and of hope.
The Rio Doce and the Technical Assistance to Affected People
The fight for the right to technical advice for those affected in Espírito Santo was part of Flávia’s life, as Juliana recalled. For as long as she lived, Flávia breathed dreams of fair and comprehensive reparations and planted the demand for social justice in the soil of Espírito Santo.
The case of Rio Doce, Flávia and the other victims of fascism in Aracruz have one thing in common: they all cry out for justice!
Production team and photo: Adai’s ATI communications team in Espírito Santo