“Democracy Brigades” in Brazil

Submitted by AWL on 5 December, 2018 - 1:52 Author: Luiza Xavier

Since the far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the second round of Brazil’s presidential election on 28 October — he takes office in January — the resistance has been limited to small initiatives focused on self¬defence of LGBT individuals, or legal representation of activists. Large demonstrations such as those seen after Trump’s election in the US have not happened.

The Workers’ Party (PT) and the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party, left split from the PT) have both called meetings of their national leaderships to make plans for the months ahead, and the MTST (movement of homeless workers, one of the largest organised social movements in Brazil) has plans to form “Democracy Brigades” across the country.

The report coming out of the PT’s meeting shows that the leaders of the Workers’ Party at least partly recognise the need to strengthen their link with the grass roots. Decisions included:

• the creation of more educational written material to be sent to local parties • a push for local parties to organise series of debates and events for new members to attend • promoting the de¬bureaucratisation of the party (by making information more easily accessible • making local party units more accessible, refurbishing local party HQs so they can become centres for disseminating information about the party and local culture • forming a network of online activists • a working group to look into the reorganisation of the party and its activities.

The resolutions talk about improving the flow of information from the top to the base, but on the flow of information in the other direction (more frequent local democratic meetings, a proper process for holding elected bureaucrats or government officials to account) it offers only vague rhetoric about “staying in sync” with the grassroots.

PT decisions also include strengthening further the campaign to free Lula, maintaining an already existent solidarity network for the victims of violence (presumably from the wave of homophobic, racist, misogynistic and anti-communist violence that has been growing since the election campaign), and increasing representation of women, LGBT, indigenous and black people in leadership and government positions (but without mentioning any strategy for how: only one party in Brazil currently has equal representation for women in the chamber of deputies, the PSOL).

The PSOL hasn’t yet released the decisions made at its leadership meeting. The MST (Movement of Landless Workers, one of the biggest and most influential social movements in Brazil) and the CUT (a “central” organisation of trade unions, close to the PT) have not released a public post-election strategy for resistance.

The MTST has raised almost 50,000 reais (£10,000) to organise meetings and produce printed material for the organisation of “Democracy Brigades” (essentially, local activist groups) to organise demonstrations, meetings and physical and online actions. The MTST does not specify how autonomous the Brigades will be, how they will be structured or what their politics would be like.

We have yet to see whether the crowds of activists that participated in the anti-Bolsonaro electoral campaign will join these resistance initiatives, or whether smaller groups will start organising after 1 January.

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