Brazil and Chile
Continuing our series of reports of building the CWI across the world, which were given at the December 2005 CWI International Executive Committee meeting, we look at the examples of Brazil and Chile, in Latin America.
Building in Latin America
Our work inside PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) opened up new opportunities for building the influence of Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI Brazil) in 2005. During the year we made important advances. The SR has broadened geographically, including a new branch in Rio. In the São Paulo state, besides the work we already had in São Paulo, Taboão and Campinas, we are building in Cotia, and are starting in other cities, Assis and São Roque. We have many students and teachers and we are also winning other people from different backgrounds.
We have increased our profile in the universities. We have now members in all three public state universities in São Paulo, but also in important private universities like PUC (Christian) in São Paulo and Campinas. We also have supporters in two important public universities in Rio.
We made an important breakthrough in the USP (São Paulo University), the most important university of the country, as we won the election to the students’ council in November, together with two other currents within PSOL. Our slate got 42% and SR (CWI) has 5 out of 43 members on the board. A SR member will be responsible for GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transsexual) work and another plays an important role on women’s issues on the board.
We have also won some pre-university students (secondary school and students on preparatory courses for student exams). There are plans for more MSE (Movement for those without Education) campaigning.
Our main trade union work is in Apeoesp (union of teachers in public schools in São Paulo). We had a tremendous victory in Apeoesp elections, earlier this year. We were the main force in the branch in Taboão before the election, and we work in the left opposition against the leadership of PT (Workers’ Party, the governing party of President Lula) and PCdoB (Communist Party). We won 13 out of 13 representatives in the election! Shamefully, the PSTU (United Socialist Workers’ Party) maneuvered against this result, on a state level, and the election was annulled! The election was held again, two weeks later. This time, the turn out was even bigger and the Apeoesp members went out to punish the PSTU and PT for their maneuvers. During that election, our slate won with an even bigger margin – 15 out of 15 representatives (the number of representatives increases with the higher turn out). The PSTU split locally, with its former main representative in the local union, leaving the party.
The Apeoesp branch in Taboão had a very good turnout for the rallies and demos against the state governor’s plan to axe 120,000 teachers. After a big demo of 30,000 teachers on the 5 October, the governor was forced back down from his plan.
The Apeoesp Taboão union branch also linked up with the 5,000 roofless that are occupying an abandoned plot of land in Taboão. We have also done solidarity work as PSOL and SR members.
We now also have a representative on the board of Simpeem (union of teachers in council schools in São Paulo), and there is a good possibility that we will get a representative on the board of the union of social security workers in São Paulo state, Sinsprev. The social security workers are a very important and militant workforce that are out on strike every year.
As mentioned the work within the PSOL (Party of Socialism and Liberty) opens up new possibilities for SR. 2006 will be a decisive year for the PSOL, with a PSOL congress in March and the elections in October. We have a comrade on the national executive of PSOL and another on the São Paulo executive. We also play a key role in several branches and are helping to set up new branches. We play a very important role in the PSOL women’s campaigns, anti-racist work, and GLBT and youth work, in São Paulo, and also concerning women’s campaigns in Rio. We play an important role introducing international issues and lessons inside PSOL. Our political analyses, and especially our paper, play an important role in political discussions.
The perhaps biggest leap we have taken in 2005, concerns the SR paper. All issues have had good sales. It started with record sales during the World Social Forum, held January 2005, in Porte Alegre, when thousands of papers were sold. We sold four times as many papers in 2005 compared to 2004. We sell papers at PSOL activities. We have several examples of PSOL members selling our paper locally in their PSOL branch.
In the first weekend of January 2005, at an event organised by the Chilean Communist Party (CP), named “Fiesta de los Abrazos” (‘the festival of embraces’) the CWI in Chile rented a stall, distributed a leaflet, sold our paper and continued with the promotion of ‘Correo Semanal’, a digital newsletter that we put out every week and which is sent to thousands of email addresses. During the Fiesta de los Abrazos we collected the addresses of various persons who were interested and to whom we have sent our literature.
We stood out by our political participation during the large funeral procession for Gladys Martin, a leader of the Communist Party. We attracted many people and we were the only ones to sell and distribute political documents about the necessity of rebuilding the left.
We published 2,000 copies of a longer leaflet and distributed it on Mayday. We also had a stall to sell our paper.
One of the CWI comrades, Vilma, was involved in the year long campaign against the building of a motorway through La Granja, a working class neighbourhood in the south of Santiago. This project violated the rights of the workers in this area. This campaign has given us links with ecological organisations. The campaign also has an important international dimension.
To further this work, we’ve started youth work in this area. On 16 and 17 December 2005, we took part in the Social Forum in the south of Santiago. This was organised as the result of an idea originally brought forward by us during the struggle against the construction of the motorway. During the festival, we spoke at a conference about the relation between ecology and the prevailing economic system in Chile.
In La Granja, we initiated a “Front of the Anti-capitalist struggle” campaign, for which we produced and distributed thousands of leaflets during the local festivals. This had a good impact on the local inhabitants of the neighbourhood. We aim to make more links with youth living in the neighbourhood.
Our new weekly electronic newsletter, Correo Semanal, contains our political opinions about the current situation. We have already sent 52 issues out of this newsletter and this helps the growth of our influence. The newsletter is well-known amongst the left. The idea is that we can create debate and dialogue with this electronic publication and we are already having results.
In September, we published a bulletin about the victims of 11 September 1973, explaining the murder and human rights violations of the Pinochet dictatorship.
We have managed to bring out our paper more regularly in 2005. We have also published a brochure, ‘Who we are’ (explaining about the CWI) and also a leaflet headed “What we stand for” (our programme).
CWI comrades are in a coordination group calling for political re-groupment for a new workers’ party). We have written various articles that have been published in the paper, ‘El Trabajo’ that is published by this collective.
Our periphery of support and influence grew in 2005. In the last part of 2005, we started new party work in San Ramón (South Santiago)
The Chilean section of the CWI recognises the vital importance of building links throughout Latin America and to further this we sent a comrade to Venezuela to discuss with left and worker and youth activists.