Amidst enthusiastic scenes upwards of a thousand workers, young people and representatives from the landless movement, a new party which has been named "Party for Socialism and Liberty" (SOL, the Portuguese word for sun) was formed in Brasília, Brazil’s Federal capital, over the weekend of 5 and 6 June.
To assemble such numbers in such a vast country as Brazil – with some people travelling over 2,000 kilometres – is a considerable achievement. 20,000 participated in the regional and city meetings leading up to this historic conference.
The impetus for the establishment of this party came from the sharp shift towards the right of Lula’s PT government and party. A number of left PT MPs originally protested against attacks on the working class – including the attack on workers’ pensions rights and the brutal offensive against the civil servants – but in the end only one senator in the upper house, Heloísa Helena, and three deputies in the lower house, voted against these vicious attacks.
In the opening session of the conference very militant speeches were made for "socialism" and "revolution" receiving an enthusiastic response from the floor, with the constant chanting of slogans and demands for "socialism now".
Heloísa Helena, the leader of the party, is a very popular mass figure and an extremely effective mass orator, as is Babá, another MP from Pará in the north of Brazil. She said that "the party will hold up the banner of socialism and struggle relentlessly against a system which kills workers and the poor". The struggle will be difficult, she said, but others that went before had a harder struggle "under the military dictatorship if you tried to escape from prison you were in danger to have your limbs cut off". She concluded with a call for socialism by stating "we are in a hurry because we are obliged to be in a hurry, because millions of Brazilians sit at the table without food and are unemployed".
One of the speakers declared that the 21st century would be "a socialist century or it would be nothing". In making this point he was referring to the uprising in the prisons in Rio that has been brutally suppressed by the government with over 30 dead.
A party constitution has been accepted which is extremely democratic, with the right to tendencies to put their position within the party and publicly if they so wish. A political programme was accepted which was in general far to the left of other parties that have been created elsewhere with an explicit pledge for socialism and revolution contained in it.
There are some aspects of the programme however that need clarification and this were taken up by the members of Socialismo Revolucionário, the Brazilian section of the Committee for a Workers’ International. Given the character of the party, its leadership which comes in the main from a Trotskyist tradition, the radical nature of the programme and of the ordinary members of the party, this new formation is not a classically "broad party". It is a coalition of sizable Trotskyist and revolutionary trends, but it is a party which with the right approach could find a big echo amongst the angry and radicalised Brazilian masses.
Another striking feature of the conference was the pronounced internationalism of the leadership and the members present. CWI members Peter Taaffe and Marcus Kollbrunner were invited to give fraternal greetings to the conference but in the intense and generally chaotic proceedings time ran out before they could speak. But they were invited on to the platform for the final session and tumultuous singing of the Internationale.