Which mobilization matters? Which mobilization works? What prior engagement may form a vital key? In this episode of the Action for Reset Dialogues, Vera Schattan Coelho (Leader of the Citizenship, Health and Development Group at CEBRAP, teacher at the Public Policy Program, Federal University of ABC and associate researcher at the Centre for Metropolitan Studies, University of São Paulo), and Felipe Szabzon (CEBRAP, and Co-founder of the Platform for Social Research on Mental Health in Latin America (PLASMA) and PhD Candidate at the Joint Doctoral Program on Dynamics of Health and Welfare) meet with Franscisco Ventura - known in the community as Chiquinho - of the Sapopemba Life Brigade.
Chiquinho has led the Sapopemba Human Rights Centre since 2007 and works in the Brazilian public health care system SUS. He is part of a generation that for more than fifty years was at the frontlines of promoting democracy and human rights in poor urban neighborhoods. He has a long story of organizing voluntary work, associations, and political movements.
São Paulo was the epicenter of the Brazilian CoVID19 pandemic and the district of Sapopemba suffered most Covid-19 deaths in the city. But in the midst of these tragic developments, the pandemic opened a new perspective concerning social action for activists like Chiquinho, who made the long journey: from their initial demands in the 1980s for basic rights to much more sectorial and institutionalized participation in the 1990s, and in more recent years to learning about new claims related to fighting gender-, racial and other inequalities.
The vision that grew with the pandemic was about the need to bring together all these different movements and agendas, integrating sectors – health, assistance, education, justice - and focusing on concrete and urgent actions. The Sapopemba Brigade for Life, organized by Chiquinho and colleagues, became a major carrier of this vision.
The Sapopemba Brigade for Life combined joint action by the local movements with the region's public services and managers, allowing for information and mobilization to be joined. History made the Brigade for Life possible; and in turn innovation was made possible by the Brigade’s work. Thus, the Sapopemba Brigade for Life forms the gripping story of how different moments of a long process of social mobilization around different claims, strategies, and actors converged during the recent pandemic. Uniting people working on health, education, hunger, housing, race, gender. Through on- and offline meetings, with older and younger generations. Demonstrating how important it is that change should always be permeated by efforts to build local socio-political capacities.