Down with Capital's FIFA!
Defeat the Popular Front! Down with the union bureaucracy!
No illusions in bourgeois elections!
We will not pay the debt for the World Cup!
We demand freedom for political prisoners arrested in #NaoVaiTerCopa and #NaoVaiTerFinal demonstrations and in the workers' strikes!
For the independent organization of the working class!
Build the base for the General Strike!
The following was written by a Brazilian Supporter of the Liaison Committee of Communists (LCC). It has been edited for the English translation.
Combating the Cup is the struggle against the capitalist crisis in Brazil. We live in the deepest economic crisis since 1929 and the largest uprising of the masses in four decades. In Brazil, the uprising was a response to the call of the youth combating the increase in public transport fares and for better health and education. The June days, the demonstrations during the FIFA Confederations Cup, the emergence of the #NaoVaiTerCopa movement is fuelling every fight against expropriation of dwellings, every fight for each occupation, every demonstration in the slums, and in every strike of workers! The struggle against the capitalist crisis was built in every manifestation that the youth and #NaoVaiTerCopa organized.
Even the “spontaneous” working class movements started from a basis of consciousness. The awareness that the Brazilian masses took to the streets in June, 2013 is an informed consciousness built upon an 11-year experience with a Popular Front government which they believed would be different, but which they soon enough saw following the neo-liberal policies of the previous, usual right wing government. The movement of the masses in Brazil is today making a break with the Popular Front government. The rising of the masses comes without the call of the traditional workers’ organizations; the class is rising above them.
The June days were a great experience of a fight against the government. A government which defends major corporations and international capitalism in its crisis, a government that doesn’t have the ability to make concessions and instead attacks the rights of the working class and the poor. It was also an important experience with the leftist organizations that are outside the government, such as the Unified Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado- PSTU) and the Socialism and Freedom Party (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade- PSOL).
Since Day one of the June days, these parties have had a policy of defending retreats and “negotiation” and they have repeatedly taken actions to divide the masses when they saw they could not control them. These opportunistic organizations were rejected by the movement of June and claimed they were being attacked by fascists, but in fact it was the youth who did not allow themselves to be controlled and who would not let these organizations use their demonstrations as a soapbox. To discredit the mass movement and the youth, the opportunists’ main argument was that “there were no workers” in the demonstrations and that “it was not an organized movement.”
But the working class had their experience back in June that inevitably brought forward and developed consciousness and organization. After the June days, a number of fronts, organizations, collectives and youth groups, social movements and working class groupings of various kinds emerged; rejecting not only the ruling parties and the traditional right wing, but also the reformist left PSTU and PSOL. These are the new organizations that have launched the demonstrations against the World Cup and for better living conditions, health and education. These are the new groups that appeared in the teacher’s strike of 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, and who in 2014 were an example of struggle that invigorated the strike over the heads of the union bureaucracy headed by the leftist PSTU and PSOL.
The strike movement of the working class, which was already happening before the June Days, including teachers, civil construction, oil transporters and bus drivers certainly gained strength in fighting the World Cup; indeed the workers and strikers were the protagonists! In 2014 we had a great wave of strikes that have intensified up to the eve of the World Cup. They had great success by going over the heads of the union bureaucracy, which is linked to the government and the employers.
The same way that the working class had their experience in June, the government, the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy that had previously been caught by “surprise” by the rapidly unfolding events, are now better prepared. Rousseff Dilma promised a large military contingent and fulfilled her promise! Demonstrations and strikes are being violently suppressed. Since the #NaoVaiTerCopa demonstrations at the beginning of the year, the government has illustrated that it is determined not to allow the events and launched its massive offensive of repression that culminated in the death of a TV cameraman and a pervasive media campaign against the movement. The courts, in turn, fulfill their role as a bourgeois institution by criminalizing activists and strikers. Lots of activists and strikers were prosecuted, fired, arrested, threatened and assaulted.
WE SAY FREE THEM ALL! REHIRE THE FIRED! DROP THE CHARGES!
The leftist organizations that call themselves revolutionary acted the same way as the government and the bourgeoisie; they worked to stop the mass movement and prevent the unity of the youth and workers. After large protests had been organized in June, the actually reformist left, the PSTU and PSOL delegitimized the General Strike plans and called instead for a “Day of Mobilization”, exactly to stop the movement, and they did this in complete harmony and unity with the central-government and the employers. Through the “espaço de unidade de ação,” which is a popular front of the PSTU and the Unified Workers’ Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores- CUT) with the unions, they organized the movement around the slogan “Take the fight into the cup,” trying to co-opt the #NaoVaiTerCopa movement.
But the left bureaucracy could not co-opt the movement of June, nor the #NaoVaiTerCopa, therefore they used the policy of criminalization of the radicalized youth and the “Black Bloc” in order to isolate them from the broader masses of youth and the workers. They had a sectarian approach to divide the movement by boycotting all of the fronts and independent organizations which had shown in June that they would not allow themselves to be controlled. The reformists succeeded in controlling a major sector of the working class by ending several strikes under the guise of “Unity.”
Thus they provided left cover for the ruling Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores- PT), the Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil- PCdoB) and the right-wing parties such as Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro- PMDB) and the Democratic Labour Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista- PDT). Through its popular front in the unions, and their economistic agenda in the strikes, they prevented the strikes from adopting the #NaoVaiTerCopa slogans and demands and instead blocked unity with the popular and youth movements which were already on the streets and had maintained a strong mobilized presence despite being under heavy state repression.
In the Sao Paulo subway, at the same time that the PSTU boycotted the popular movement and youth of #NaoVaiTerCopa, they blocked #NaoVaiTerCopa’s demands and slogans from being taken up as the agenda of workers. They similarly blocked organizational unity in action with the striking bus drivers. The PSTU united with the PCdoB and with the “support” of the General Union of Workers (UGT) the strikers remained isolated by their limited economistic agenda, leaving the movement politically disarmed and incapable of facing what was coming. The government then fired 42 workers and the union ended the strike, leaving their comrades behind. The bus drivers of Rio de Janeiro passed over the union leadership to take action, but were barred by the PSTU in the strike committee by bureaucratic manoeuvres that prevented the formal vote for the strike, setting the striking drivers up for defeat.
The Rio de Janeiro teachers’ strike was the first one which went over the heads of the PSTU and PSOL controlled unions. This layer of educational workers already had the experience of their own strike being betrayed in 2013 by this union leadership. They remained on strike during the World Cup, even after lay-offs and persecution of strikers and even as the PSTU joined with the PT and advocated the end of the movement. These education workers did not accept the defeat and decided to continue even without the support of the union! With a bureaucratic manoeuvre, the PSTU and PSOL in unity with the PT, the PCdoB, and the PDT called an extraordinary deliberation council and an early meeting at which they successfully ended the strike.
The PSOL and the PSTU also imposed an economistic agenda in the federal public workers sector unions, despite the workers there having run their own strikes for years. Their only slogan was “negotiate Dilma!” The government is imposing the neo-liberal plan and is not willing to trade it, so this slogan only creates illusions. Instead of leading real class struggle they limited the workers to begging Dilma to negotiate, thus demoralizing the movement and weakening the workers’ resolve.
Thus, with the security forces of the state acting at the behest of the PT and with the offensive of the bourgeoisie and the media, the sabotaged strikes and the betrayal by the left bureaucracy, the movement against the World Cup has been “different” from June. After the strike movement of workers bypassed the bureaucracies of the CUT, Union Force Trade (Força Sindical- FS), UGT, etc., it ended up being blocked by the left bureaucracy, the strike committees and by the unions they control. The defeat of the Sao Paulo subway workers strike also contained the process of building the General Strike, which was being hotly debated inside the mass movement.
Not only is the bureaucracy in the union movement a hindrance to the workers’ fight, but it is in the struggles of the broader social movement as well. The leadership of the Homeless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto- MTST) capitulated to the government and the popular front by cancelling the demonstrations that were planned for Brazil’s friendly match before the World Cup in Sao Paulo, even while there was a strike by subway workers that stopped the city! At the moment the MTST was mobilizing 20 thousand people for actions, they cancelled the actions and dropped the fight against the Cup, claiming to have “negotiated” with the government. The promise of the government was the “Minha Casa Minha Vida” program of the federal government, which for years has been transferring public money to big construction companies fuelling the speculation and horrible housing conditions and the promise of a master plan (Director Plan- a new law on urban replanning), the same plan that has been adopted in recent years to serve the interests of large developers and to generate foreclosures and evictions.
The World Cup in Brazil was not what the government and the bourgeoisie hoped. The expected nationalist wave of emotion was substituted with popular protest, many of the public works promised by the government were not completed and the “stimulation” of the economy did not happen as expected. The budget deficit and rate of inflation increased, and the living conditions of the working class are still under attack. The struggle against the Cup is the struggle against capital and it will continue after the World Cup final against the popular front government that continues to defend capitalism in crisis and tries to make the workers pay the bill.
Organizations claiming to be revolutionary Trotskyists must say “no” to any alliance with the ruling bureaucracy in the unions, and fight union attempts to stop the unity of the mass movement and workers from joining the working class youth and popular movement. It is the new fronts and organizations that arise in the experience of struggle against the government and against capitalism in its crisis that are strengthening the united front against the Popular Front.
The parties of the left united with the ruling bureaucracy to end the strikes and mobilized extensively to build their coalitions and political campaigns for the October elections, making their priority clear. The mobilization of workers must continue with the consciousness that they must fight the government, the bourgeoisie and the trade union bureaucracy, following the example of the education workers of Rio de Janeiro, which already are working in rank and file organizing committees to keep fighting the threats and dismissals.
The demonstrations against the World Cup, despite facing great repression, are being continued by the social movement and the youth. We also need to generalize the self-organization of workers on a democratic basis. The agenda of workers for better working conditions and wages must be united in the struggle against the government and capitalism in crisis, denouncing and fighting the false democracy of bourgeois elections, rescuing the flags of the socialist revolution and building the revolutionary party!
July 3, 2014 written by a supporter of the LCC in Brazil Any mistakes in translation are the responsibility of the CWG/USA