Vol. XLI No. 49 December 03, 2017

The 14th Congress of the Communist Party of Brazil

G Ramakrishnan

THE 14th Congress of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) took place in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil from November 17-19, 2017. Myself, on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Benoy Viswam on behalf of CPI attended the Congress.

547 delegates representing the 60,000 members of the PCdoB took part in the Congress. 32 fraternal delegates belonging to various Communist and Workers’  Parties from 27 countries – South Africa, Angola, Argentina, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Colombia, Cuba, North Korea, El Salvador, Spain, United States, Galicia, Great Britain, Greece, India (CPI(M) and CPI), Nicaragua, Palestine, Peru, Portugal, Czech Republic, Western Sahara, Syria, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Viet Nam – took part in the Congress.

PCdoB has a long revolutionary tradition. It came into being in 1922. In its 95-year history, the Brazilian Communist Party has faced many crises and repression and has continued to function while facing them. There was a split in the Party in 1962. The section that chose to pursue a revisionist path has been greatly weakened and has become very weak and inactive.  

PCdoB which did not abandon the Red flag and Marxism-Leninism as well as proletarian internationalism, and which conducted the 2017 November 17-19 Congress is functioning actively.

The general membership of the Party which was 1,51,000 in 2001 has grown to 3,56,000 in 2015 and further to 3,93,312 in 2017. The active membership of the Party in 2001 was 34,000. It has now risen to 60,000. The Brazilian Party maintains two membership lists. The former amounting in 2017 to nearly four lakhs is given to the Election Commission of Brazil.

On the trade union front, the union headed by the Party is the second largest in the country. On the student front, it is in the first place. Women’s participation in the day-to-day activities of the Party is quite high. In fact in the Party Congress itself, a crèche was arranged to look after the children of some of the delegates. The Party constitution mandates the election of at least 30 per cent women members in Party committees. Luciana, the leader of the Party, is a woman. She has been re-elected at the 14th Congress.

Brazil is a highly urbanised country, with an urban population accounting for 85 per cent of the total population of the country. The Communist Party of Brazil contested in 757 municipal council seats in 2001 and won in 150. In 2016, it contested in 2301 seats and won in 1001 seats. In the elections to the parliament of Brazil, the Party secured 2.89 per cent of the total votes in 2010 and obtained 15 seats. In 2014, it secured 1.98 per cent of votes and won 10 seats.

Brazil has 27 provinces. In the province of Maranhão, Flavia Dino, a leader of the PCdoB has won the post of governor and the Party is in power in that province. (The governor of a province in Brazil is equivalent to the chief minister of a state in India).

There was a military coup in Brazil in 1964, and the general who led the coup established dictatorship. Such democratic rights which then existed were also taken away. The Communist Party was banned. The Communist Party of Brazil conducted a guerilla struggle in Araguaia region. It led a strong movement across the country against the dictatorship. The dictatorship came to an end in 1985 and a new constitution was adopted. In the parliament elections of 2003, the leader of the Workers’ Party, Lula, became the president of Brazil with the support of PCdoB.

From 1959, the Socialist State of Cuba under the leadership of the Communist Party became the sole shining star of Latin America. In the last 20 years, a surge against US imperialism in Latin America led to the formation of Left-led governments in several countries. Following the formation of a government in Venezuela led by Chavez, Left-led governments capable of opposing imperialism emerged in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.

Because of the intervention of US imperialism, there are now street battles between the supporters of imperialism and those of the Left government in Venezuela. The US government is supporting the reactionary forces ranged against the Venezuelan government. In Brazil, the vice president supported by the USA has captured power deposing the government of the Workers’ Party elected by the people.

PCdoB was part of the government led by the Workers’ Party (first with Lula and then with Dilma Roussef as the head) from 2003 to 2014. Because of the welfare programmes implemented by the government led by the Workers’ Party from 2002 to 2014, 36 million people were lifted above the poverty line. The government gave importance to education and health. Incomes of farmers rose. About 7 million families have been provided with houses. 18 universities were started after 2003. The enrolment of students in higher education rose considerably. The minimum wage of workers was determined and it rose by 71.5 per cent. This government also gave some importance to economic policies of self reliance.

The present pro-US government is trying to privatise the State-owned petrochemical company. The mineral wealth of the country is being placed at the disposal of multinational companies. Labour laws are being amended to paralyse democratic functioning of trade unions and to take away the rights of workers. The government is trying to privatise pensions. Financial allocation for welfare programmes is being cut. A law has been brought that for the next 20 years, there should be no increase in financial allocations to education and health. Workers, peasants and other sections of working people are fighting in the streets against the actions of the anti-worker, anti-people government. In addition to supporting the struggles of toiling people, the PCdoB is carrying on a strong movement in support of their demands.

The election for the presidency is to take place in 2018. The Court has barred Lula from contesting. His appeal against the court ruling is pending. The government is trying to somehow prevent Lula from contesting. This is the backdrop in which the PCdoB has fielded a 35-year old woman comrade Manuela for the post of president. Leaders of Left parties including Lula greeted the PCdoB Congress.

In this background, the 14th Congress of the PCdoB passed a resolution to conduct independent struggles to restore democracy, establish the rule of law, protect the constitution, defend the nation’s sovereignty and defend the concessions won through struggles by workers and other toilers. It also resolved to evolve a broad platform together with democratic forces, social movements and Left parties for joint struggles.

Apart from the above political slogan the Party Congress has set the following political, ideological and organisational tasks

·        Class conscious labour action in the workplaces must continue while also standing by banners related to a new national development programe that go beyond labour, like urban mobility, education and culture. This task demands engagement not only from unionists but also from the Party collective.

·        Radicalisation of the political struggle and searching for solutions for the country call for strengthening the work on the struggle of ideas, thus comprehending the communication and development and propaganda fronts.

·        To implement the political and ideological tasks, Party organisations from branch level to the Polit Bureau should be revamped.