National Students Union (UNE)

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National Students Union (UNE)

The National Students Union (União Nacional dos Estudantes—UNE) emerged from the Second National Students Conference, held in Rio de Janeiro in 1938. Formally recognized by presidential decree in 1942 as the representative entity of Brazil's university students, the UNE initially devoted itself to creating branches throughout the states. The UNE's organization inspired similar efforts at the level of Brazilian secondary schools, giving rise to the Secondary Students Union of Brazil (UBES). The UNE soon devoted itself to political issues beyond the universities, working during 1940–1941 to secure Brazil's entry into World War II on the side of the Allies. It also participated in campaigns against the "fifth column" and provided domestic support to the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. Later in the 1940s and 1950s the UNE led political campaigns in defense of the state petroleum monopoly, in opposition to the rising cost of living, and in support of an independent foreign policy. In the early 1960s the UNE pursued university reforms, leading a strike in 1962 that shut down almost all of Brazilian higher education for three months. In 1967–1968 the UNE staged protests against the dictatorship in major Brazilian cities. Government repression and imprisonment of student leaders in the late 1960s made it difficult for the organization to maintain its bases of support and level of activity. The UNE returned to the public arena only with the lessening of repression in the second half of the 1970s. University and high school students in 1992 actively participated in the protests against the corruption of President Fernando Collor. In contrast to the organized strikes of the 1960s, this manifestation was more spontaneous and less aligned with student organizations.

See alsoWorld War II .


Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964 (1967).

Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves De Abreu, eds., Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983 (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Barcellos, Jalusa. CPC da UNE: Uma história de paixão e consciência. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Nova Fronteira; IBAC/MINC, 1994.

Fávero, Maria de Lourdes de A. UNE em tempos de autoritarismo. Rio de Janeiro: Editora UFRJ, 1995.

Saldanha, Alberto. A UNE e o mito do poder jovem. Maceió, Brazil: UFAL, 2005.

                                    William Summerhill

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National Students Union (UNE)

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National Students Union (UNE)