100th Anniversary of the Communist Party of Brazil
March 25, 1922
Red Salute to PCdoB and All Brazilian Communists!
The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) celebrates 100 years of arduous work and struggle through many twists and turns since it was founded on March 25, 1922. On this occasion, the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) sent the PCdoB a letter of congratulations and it is participating in an on-line webinar on “A Century of Struggle for a Solidary and Socialist World.”
The 100 years since the PCdoB was founded have been momentous, punctuated by a series of episodes that tainted democracy and stifled freedom. The trajectory of the Communist Party of Brazil, founded in 1922, was deeply marked by these episodes, but the Communists resisted bravely and the Party reaches its 100th year strengthened and expanding.
For more than 60 years, the Party worked in clandestine conditions of illegality and semi-legality imposed by the ruling elite. It lived in conditions of full legality only between 1945 and 1947 and, in the present period, as of 1985, when it was legalized after the dictatorship was overthrown. At all other times, communist leaders and militants faced police persecution, arrest, torture, exile and political assassination. In these prolonged periods of extreme clandestinity, Party documents, books, houses and offices were raided and many times burned.
The first of these moments was during the Estado Novo dictatorship. Police persecution almost dismantled the national leadership of the Party, which in 1941 was almost entirely in the prisons of the political police. Only a few communist nuclei survived in Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, held by middle-class Party leaders who assumed the vacant positions of the national leadership. That year the work began to reconstitute the Party, which culminated in the 1943 clandestine National Conference of Mantiqueira, whose objective was to rebuild the national leadership. Comrade João Amazonas was among the main leaders of that process of reconstruction, along with Diógenes Arruda, Pedro Pomar, Maurício Grabois, Amarílio de Vasconcelos, among many others.
Amazonas was the respected leader of the PCdoB who dedicated almost seven decades to political activity, in defence of revolutionary convictions, sovereignty, democracy and social progress of Brazil until his death at 90 years of age in 2002. Together with Hardial Bains, the respected leader of CPC(M-L), he established profound fraternal relations between our two parties and the peoples of Canada and Brazil.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of PCdoB, we are reproducing below an extract of the preface to the biography of João Amazonas, authored by the Brazilian historian Augusto Buonicore in 2018. The preface of the book is written by Renato Rabelo who was elected president of the PCdoB after Comrade Amazonas passed away and is presently Director of the Maurício Grabois Foundation. The foundation, together with the Anita Garibaldi Publishing House published the biography titled, My Word Is to Fight — The Life and Thought of João Amazonas. The contributions of Comrade Amazonas and the trajectory of the PCdoB became one and have been upheld by the coming generations of leaders since he passed away, through all the difficulties posed by the counter-revolutionary neo-liberal anti-social, anti-national offensive imposed in Brazil.
“[…] In recalling his memory, one must emphasize an important aspect of João Amazonas’ performance: his prominent role in the process of party construction lived by the Communist legend since the 1940s. In confrontation during periods of dictatorship and in the struggle against revisionist currents that threatened to liquidate the Party, Amazonas was at the head of the battle for the defense of the party organization.
“The second great turning point in the life of the Party — which had João Amazonas at the center of events — culminated in the strong debate that took place between the communist leaders from 1956 to 1961. At that time, a current was formed in the national leadership that adhered to new direction imposed by the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and by the Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, which pointed to a weakening of the revolutionary commitment and to peaceful coexistence with imperialism. That group promoted political and statutory changes in this sense – presenting another program and breaking partisan legality – because those changes had not been approved by the Fifth Congress [of the PCdoB], held in 1960.
“The debate of those years confronted two antagonistic positions: between maintaining the ideals and principles of the Communist Party of Brazil, constituted since its foundation, or revising them. It was the most important ideological struggle within the international and Brazilian communist movement of that era. Against the threat of liquidation of the Party, a group of leaders and militants stood up in their defence. The outcome came on February 18, 1962, when the group led by Amazonas, Grabois, Pomar, among others, reorganized the Party to maintain its ideals, its name and its identity. The PCdoB, since 1962, managed to grow and incorporate other revolutionary political forces, such as Popular Action, the political organization with influence between workers and students, who joined the PCdoB in 1972, affirming the same ideology and politics of the Communist Party.
“Finally, the third major turning point in the political construction of PCdoB, which had the decisive participation of João Amazonas, occurred in 1979 at the 7th National Conference, already at the end of the military dictatorship. The Party leadership was reorganized after a dozen national leaders were assassinated by the dictatorial regime and many others had to seek refuge abroad owing to police persecution and insecurity for their physical integrity. In this 7th conference, which took place in a period marked by intense debate against a liquidationist group that emerged among national leaders, a new Central Committee and new state directorates of the PCdoB were appointed. We must emphasize and dignify the importance of the work of Amazonas in these significant periods. It is this participation that justifies the recognition of João Amazonas as the ‘builder of the PCdoB.’
“Another point that needs to be highlighted in the trajectory of Amazonas is his theoretical contribution, fundamental for understanding the contradictions of our time. The most important lesson he left in analyzing the socialist experience was the realization of the contradictions of the construction of socialism in the experiences of the 20th century. The first is the idea that there is no single model for socialism, there is not a single socialism, but its construction will follow its own course in each people, determined by the way social contradictions and the struggle against imperialism will be resolved in each country. And João Amazonas was consistent with this conclusion by insisting on the necessity of the development of Marxist theory with the study of the historical conditions proper to each nation. In the case of Brazil, enriching advanced thinking with the knowledge of national conditions was a challenge that Amazonas faced with the same vigour as the debates of the Fifth Party Congress in 1960.
“Another important theoretical contribution left by João Amazonas came from his analysis put forward at the Party Congress in 1992 — from the crisis of socialism in the 1980s and 1990s. It was the realization that these events reflected the crisis of the development of Marxist theory, the stagnation of theory, leading to political and economic paralysis and accommodation. This was the backdrop to the debate: without the development of theory, the problems posed by the challenge of building socialism could not be met in a manner consistent with the historical requirement.
“As a result of his study, Amazonas advanced elaboration of modern strategic thinking of PCdoB. His contribution develops the theoretical elaboration of the objective phase of transition from capitalism to socialism. This contribution is grounded in his brilliant work State Capitalism in the transition to socialism: Lenin’s remarkable contribution to the revolutionary theory of social progress, and developed in the article ‘Economic Steps in the Socialist System,’ where he wrote: ‘The stages, both in socialism as in capitalism, are fundamental laws of objective development, express quantitative growth followed by qualitative leaps in production, which are also reflected in the superstructure. Therefore, the steps can not be determined arbitrarily, neither suppressed nor artificially accelerated.’
“This is an important contribution to understanding the contradictions of the experience of building socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe, as well as the experience that continues today in countries that persist in the direction of building socialism. The thesis defended by João Amazonas in this article allows a more acute and consistent knowledge of this contradictory, dialectical process of overcoming capitalism, overcoming the often voluntarist limitations, when the transition was not considered objectively, after the conquest of the state political power by revolutionary, democratic, and popular forces.
“Under the direction of João Amazonas, PCdoB never recoiled from its historical responsibilities. If the Party strengthened its action among the people and the workers, with a growing presence in the union struggle and social movements, its presence in the mass political struggle at the end of the military dictatorship was also decisive, acting in the various instances of its manifestation. In the campaign in the 1984-1985 period, the communist militancy had an intense presence. When the amendment that gave Brazilians the right to vote for President of the Republic was defeated in the National Congress, PCdoB indicated that the focus of the struggle was transferred to the Electoral College itself, the creation of the military regime, becoming the means in those circumstances.
“It was a delicate moment of the struggle for the redemocratization in our country, and that was the way forward found, with the support of the communists, for the overcoming of the military regime. […]”
Based on the strategy and tactics set for this period, the PCdoB made a decisive contribution to the election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the presidency of the Republic — a historical achievement fought for since 1989 , when he was one of the main articulators of the Brazilian Popular Front. With the election of Lula, with the support of the communists and other progressive forces, Brazil was able to usher in a phase towards its own development, sovereignty and social progress.
Even after the ruling elites managed to get rid of Lula through fraud by imprisoning him on false charges for 19 months so he could not run for re-election in 2018, the PCdoB steered a clear path, always earning respect and raising its prestige in the Brazilian political scene. It has presence at all levels of government, has an active and highly respected parliamentary bench, has a strong and active presence in social movements, acting as a driving force in many popular and working class organizations and has recognized internationalist activity.
CPC(M-L) congratulates the PCdoB whose theoretical, practical and political leadership have been forged in 100 years of revolutionary work, struggle and sacrifice for the communist principles which espouse the emancipation of humanity itself. The hallmark of the PCdoB is to never recoil from the difficult and complex demands of the class struggle as it dedicates its activity to the people, the working class and socialism in Brazil and contributes to the same internationally as well.