People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 47

November 22, 2009



�Socialism Is the Only Alternative�


Brinda Karat


The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) held its twelfth congress in Sao Paulo from November 5 to 8; I attended on behalf of the CPI(M). There were over 1100 delegates representing 27 States of Brazil. There were 55 international delegates from 35 countries. Latin American countries were especially well represented, including delegates from Venezuela, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina. The Cuban delegation was loudly applauded as was the delegate from the Communist Party of China.


The entire congress proceedings were marked by enthusiasm, confidence and energy. At the end of its deliberations, the congress re-elected Jose Renalto Rabelo as its president and in an announcement from the presidium which drew prolonged and long applause, a young woman leader, also a member of parliament, Luciana Santos, was elected the vice president by the party�s Central Committee.


The congress was termed as historic by party president, Renalto, on three counts. First, it was the biggest party congress in terms of representation, reflecting the expansion of the party. Secondly, it was a special congress as it adopted a new party programme, entitled Socialist Programme for Brazil, which was to guide the party in the coming years. Thirdly, the congress adopted an updated cadre policy, entitled Communist Cadre Policy for Contemporary Times, emphasising the commitment to Marxist-Leninist principles of organisation to develop �cadres for this time, for this concrete mission.�




The main discussions in the congress related to the new party programme being proposed and 50 delegates, over one third of them women, spoke in the discussion. In his introductory speech of over two hours, Renalto spelt out the different aspects of the programme, and of the three stages of the development of Brazilian society leading up to the present stage of the fight for socialism. In a broad ranging analysis of the international situation, he stressed the new developments consequent to the unprecedented global financial crisis which has, according to him, led to the opening up of new spaces for the development of multi-polarity in international relations in contrast to the US determined unilaterism of the last several decades. He saw this as a positive trend which must be further worked upon. In this context the importance of other groupings like that of BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) was also emphasised by him. He made a scathing attack against capitalism, particularly its current neo-liberal framework, and called it a historically exhausted system, albeit still politically and ideologically dominant. When he said that capitalism is increasingly becoming �synonymous with crisis, super exploitation and violence,� the hall resounded with slogans � The Future Is Socialism! He also presented the Draft Political Resolution on the Present Situation in Brazil, which spoke of the accomplishments and limitations of the Lula government, the clash of different political forces and the character of parties forming the ruling alliance as well as the necessity of strengthening the Left bloc in the alliance.


The delegates spoke from varying experiences, reflecting different social groups and regions. A recurring theme was the importance of the new programme to chart out the future course to develop the Socialist agenda. Organisationally the stress was on the need to strengthen the working class movement as well as the youth and women�s movements. Some delegates pointed to their experience of the need for the party to pay greater attention to movements of the working class, youth and women. There were also demands from some delegates to strengthen interventions to ensure more pro-people policies from the Lula government. There were warnings against the neo-liberal agendas of some allies. In the cadre policy discussions, the stress was on the importance of a comprehensive approach to developing cadre, and the need for more intensive ideological training.


A most striking feature of the congress was the number of women delegates. The party�s Central Committee had two years ago organised a national conference on women�s issues in which party delegates debated party policy. It was recommended that in every sphere of party life there should be at least one third women. This was later adopted by the Central Committee in a resolution which became mandatory for the entire party. Thus at the congress there were over one third women delegates. In the last Central Committee of 85 members, 19 per cent were women. In the newly elected Central Committee which was increased to 105 members, one third elected are women. Women delegates spoke of their pride in the bold steps taken by the party. One woman delegate said women in Brazil will believe in what we say because we have put it into practice in our own home.




One session of the congress was termed Session of the Political Act which was for the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, to address the delegates along with nine ministers. The PCdoB with 13 deputies, including five women, in the 513 Chamber of Deputies, has been participating in the Lula government with several ministers including one holding the speaker�s post. The communist candidate Aldo Rabelo, won a hotly contested election for the speaker�s post a few years ago. The national elections in Brazil are now to be held next year, in 2010. The constitution does not allow more than two terms for the president. The president and the Workers Party which he leads have already declared their candidate for presidency: she is a woman candidate, a trained economist called Dilma Jose. She also was present in the session and was introduced to the delegates to enthusiastic applause. Communist ministers also spoke in this session which saw a packed hall with many invitees from other movements in Brazil including the MST land struggle platform, the broader youth and student movements. The loudest applause was reserved for the young sports minister, Silva, who is being credited with having played a big role in getting the Olympics to Brazil defeating the US bid for Chicago. Aldo Rabelo, the speaker, spoke in this session as well as the delegates session. He emphasised the necessity of maintaining the independent role of the party while being in the government. The session gave a call for ensuring the victory of the Workers Party candidate as the representative of the broad alliance.


Another interesting parallel session was devoted to a hearing of the Amnesty Commission. This commission has been set up by the Lula government to ensure public accountability for the crimes committed by the past dictatorships against individuals who had stood against them. The commission, in this special hearing, honoured the widow of one of the founders of the Communist Party of Brazil who had been targeted by the military, arrested and beaten. The party president, Renalto, was also honoured for his role against the dictatorship, and the atrocities committed against him were officially condemned.


Attending the congress was an extremely interesting and educative experience. In his bilateral discussions, the president of the party emphasised the close relations between the PcdoB and the CPI(M). He reiterated his regard for the latter and expressed his belief that the present difficult situation would be overcome. He also expressed his solidarity with the comrades who were martyred in West Bengal. He appreciated the message of greetings which I delivered on behalf of the Central Committee of the CPI(M).