Volume 6, No. 7, July 2005


Which side are you on Lula ?

(Compiled over internet by Ashim)


"and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,

and from every crime bullets are born

which will one day find

the bull’s eye of your hearts."……..Pablo Neruda (I’m Explaining a Few Things. . . )

Despite its vast natural resources and economic wealth, Brazil has an overwhelmingly poor population. Relatively few Brazilians have benefited from the economy. In a country with some of the world’s widest social differences, grinding poverty and misery coexist with great industrial wealth; 20 percent of the population is extremely poor and 1 percent extremely wealthy. According to the UN, Brazil had the most uneven distribution of wealth in the world in 1995. The richest 10 percent of Brazilians hold 65 percent of Brazil’s wealth (GDP), while the poorest 40 percent share only 7 percent. Brazil is placed 65 out of 175 countries in the UN’s 2003 human development index .The vast substratum of the population lacks adequate housing, employment, education, health care, or any social security.

Latin American countries are plundered by illegitimate and usurious external debts and scandalous privatization. The countries of the sub-continent are bound to agreements with the IMF, World Bank and other imperialist institutions that control the economies for the benefit of the monopolies and the interests of the great powers. The continent has been rocked by a wave of mass rebellions, including the toppling of pro-IMF governments in Ecuador, Argentina and most recently Bolivia by mass protests, strikes and uprisings.

There have been some electoral victories for so-called left-leaning governments like those of presidents Néstor Kirchner in Argentina, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil and Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, that acts as the last hope of the reactionary system. In this context, since the end of 2002, the attention of Latin America has been fixed on the electoral victory and resulting government of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT: Workers’ Party) led by the former metalworker and union leader Luis Inácio da Silva, popularly known as "Lula." Brazil’s economy is the size of the rest of the continent’s combined, and it is home of the region’s most organized and potentially powerful working class and potentially radical landless peasant movement led by the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST: Rural Landless Workers’ Movement). The concentration of land is one of the most skewed in Brazil and it is almost as old as Brazil itself. Right from the beginning of the colonization of Brazil in the 16th century by the Portuguese emperor the crown turned to the hereditary donatory captaincy system .Under this system, each donee was responsible for colonizing his own captaincy at his own expense. This step was significant because it led to the establishment of latifundia (landoweners) in Brazil which hold almost half of the farm land of Brazil and which is only 1% of the population. Tension is high in the Brazilian countryside. Some 4.5 million landless families await resettlement on farms, while 27,000 landowners each sit on estates of more than 15,000 hectares that they have vowed to defend with their own militias. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to redress the balance by buying up huge tracts of disused land and redistributing it to poor families with no home of their own. His government says 81,000 families were resettled last year. The total is well below the president’s target of 115,000 resettlements. The MST initially after the victory of Lula suspended critising the government and concentrated their campaign against the rural land owners. The land owners private army and goons have killed almost 65 activist over a year.

The PT is a party based on the working class, which in the past had proclaimed socialism as its aim and promised to repudiate Brazil’s massive foreign debts as well as radically redistribute the land. Millions throughout Latin America hoped that its rise to power would show a way out of the imperialist crisis, as, after coming to power on 27 October 2002 Lula and PT leadership promised to break with neo liberalism through agrarian reform, self- sufficiency in food, investment in public services, social inclusion and participatory democracy. These were the tenets of the government programme, called the "new paradigm". These illusions were fed by many prominent self-proclaimed socialists, who celebrated the PT victory as a turning point in the struggle for democracy and socialism and even "the end of neo-liberalism" — the imperialists’ free market ideology. In its first 2 years the PT government has already betrayed its promises to the workers, landless poor and the masses. It implemented IMF-backed austerity measures that the previous, openly rightist governments could not have hoped to get away with. The Brazilian masses’ fate for years to come, and to a great extent that of the rest of the continent, will be determined by whether the working class can break from the revisionist PT’s grip and lead a successful struggle against it and the imperialist system it represents. The key will be whether revolutionaries learn the lessons of the PT’s betrayal and build a genuinely revolutionary party to lead those struggles.

Through a series of electoral campaigns, the PT leadership signaled the ruling class and imperialists that it would not challenge the system. As the capitalist crisis deepened, PT state and city governments increasingly implemented privatization and cuts in spending on social services, and used the police and army against strikes and land occupations. In the election that brought Lula to power in 2002, by which time the masses had had the experience of the PT in local office, the vote for local PT candidates fell. Thus while illusions in Lula led to him winning 61 percent of the popular vote overall, in local elections the PT did miserably.

By 2002 the Brazilian ruling class was facing a political crisis .The previous Cardoso regime had advanced neo-liberal austerity measures as far as it could. The economy had deteriorated, mass unemployment and poverty were growing, and the government was embroiled in corruption scandals. Meanwhile, mass struggles were erupting across the continent. When Argentina’s pro-IMF government was pushed from power, Brazil’s ruling class feared it could be next. Lula saw his opportunity and launched a new campaign to win bourgeois support. The PT leadership offered to use its remaining prestige and power over the masses to push further neo-liberal reforms. Seeing the capitalists’ fear of the growing upheavals and of the prospect of Brazil defaulting on its debts, the PT leaders planned to win imperialism’s backing by promoting themselves as the only alternative to growing radical anti-imperialism and socialism throughout Latin America. The PT leaders planned to offer to continue to pay the country’s debts in order to negotiate a lowering of U.S. barriers to Brazilian products. But to win the support of the compradors and the imperialists, the PT leadership understood that it would have to prove that it was ready to rule by overturning every one of the party’s important commitments to the masses. All references to socialism and anti-imperialism were purged from the party program. The demand to repudiate the debt was junked, replaced by a call to audit and re-negotiate it. Then Lula and his advisors decided to forge an electoral alliance with the openly imperialist Liberal Party; its leader, textile magnate José Alencar, joined Lula as his running-mate and vice presidential candidate. This deal proved that the PT campaign was for a class-collaborationist popular front, an alliance with openly comprador classes designed to carry out the imperialist program.

During the election campaign, in a move designed to pressure the PT from the left, a referendum was organized by the CUT, the MST, left organizations and churches on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and the foreign debt. Ten million people participated, with 95 percent voting in favor of repudiating both. In response, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick arrogantly warned that Brazil would have to choose between keeping the FTAA or trading "with Antarctica." Lula had in the past condemned the FTAA as a "type of economic annexation of Latin America by the U.S", and the outraged masses expected him to hit back at this arrogant imperialist. Instead, he rejected the referendum and committed the PT to paying the debt and renegotiating the FTAA with the Bush Administration. "We have a number of things to settle with Comrade Bush," Lula quipped.

Then, when incumbent President Cardoso signed an emergency $30 billion loan to prevent a default on the debt, Lula rushed to embrace the deal. When the MST occupied the estate of Cardoso’s son, Lula condemned the occupation. He further demanded that the MST cease all occupations for the duration of the electoral campaign. The MST leadership dutifully agreed in the hope of receiving places and influence in a PT government. To maintain popular support, the PT did promise some reforms, including raising the minimum wage, implementing a modest and gradual land redistribution, and launching a "Zero Hunger" campaign that would provide food subsidies for Brazil’s millions of malnourished poor. Lula on the one hand is trying to save his face before the landless poor and MST and on the other hand allowing the Imperial agro business which is concentrating more and more lands with the collaboration of traditional landlords for producing cash crops and genetically modified crops like soybean, cotton, sugarcane for the world market.

The imperialist agro business TNCs already identified Brazil as their future reserve of readily available land from where they can reap and are already reaping huge profits. They are very much worried at the mild land distribution programme as those lands will go out of their hand. "Agro business is violent. The big producers have their project, where profits and capital are the priority. They are connected to the rulers in the state of Pará. They are the ones that finance the election campaigns for the governor and state MP’s... They have their accomplices within the corrupt police and courts... that collaborate with their passivity", says Dom Tomás Balduíno, chair of the CPT (a church movement that deals with the land issue). The violence in the countryside, against landless, small peasants, trade union activists, lawyers etc, is endemic, especially in the north and the state of Pará. Between 1985 and 2004 there were 1,379 registered killings connected to land conflicts, and according to the CTP 523 (38 per cent) of those occurred in Pará. Only ten cases, or 1.9 per cent in Pará, lead to trials! Only 13 people have been convicted. During the 23 first months of the Lula government alone 58 rural workers were killed, far more than the 44 killed during the last three years of the last president, Cardoso. The missionary Dorothy Stang was killed because she fought against illegal logging and the interests of the timber industry. According to the FSC (an NGO that monitors forest management) illegal logging stands for 42 per cent of the total logging in the Amazons and has a turnover of 2.5 billion dollars a year"…….(socialistworld.net).Lula has completely aligned himself with the landlords and big agro business run by imperialist capital .

The PT leadership’s campaign for imperialist support was strikingly effective. Soon leaders of various business associations were rushing to endorse him. Soon even the IMF’s Managing Director, Horst Köhler, had words of praise for Lula, calling him "really a leader of the 21st century." Germany’s State Secretary of Finance, Caio Koch Weser, summed up how Lula’s presidency could be so advantageous for imperialism: "The key is that the [neo-liberal] reform momentum gets the benefit of the enormous credibility that the president brings." (Financial Times, Jan. 27, 2003.)

The parliamentarian political parties in any semi colony, despite the fight among the parties for political power, on the basic question of economy, there is no fundamental difference between them. This should not be considered surprising however. We have seen the phenomenon in other countries too, where similar "center-left" formations, which came to power on a wave of anti imperialist sentiment followed the same, and sometimes, even worse economic policies than the military dictatorship or right wing regimes which preceded them. This is a direct result of the pernicious effect of imperialism and the comprador nature of the big bourgeoisie and shows the increasing irrelevance of the legislative institutions of the state, such as the parliament, in a semi-feudal, semi-colonial society.

The hero of the WSF has been proved to nothing more than a imperialist stooge. So it is crystal clear now that no "center left /social democratic" alliance can bring real revolutionary change in a semi colony .They only act as a populist mask for the oppressive ruling class .To free Brazil from the grip of compradors, landowners and imperialists a strong Maoist party is needed which can lead the proletariat and poor and landless peasants towards a true new democratic revolution, which will remove all the feudal and imperialist landholdings, distribute land to the landless and poor, create a local market for the nationalist self reliant bourgeoisie and take the country in the path of true socialism . The massive proletariat and landless poor of Brazil must come out from the spell of reformists and revisionists and wage militant battle against the cronies of imperialism. Even the spontaneous peasant movements of the peasantry are bound to lead to a dead-end unless it is guided by a genuine communist party to build a powerful armed struggle.




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