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(en) Brazil, OSL: Neither forgetfulness, nor forgiveness! 60 years later, the military coup reverberates in Brazil (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Wed, 17 Apr 2024 09:01:30 +0300

On April 1, 1964, a coup organized by the Brazilian ruling classes spread, for decades, a violent repression against unions, popular movements and political organizations; the regime closed in on a military dictatorship that lasted 21 years, supported by the national and international bourgeoisie. ---- Every year, left-wing political organizations mark the memory of resistance to the coup and dictatorship, but it is necessary to go beyond memory as a flag of agitation and analyze this process, to extract lessons from it that can serve the time gift. Far from "wanting to dwell on the past", as Lula recently said, making this recovery 60 years later is an important task in the face of attacks on the basic rights of the oppressed classes, the coup and the advance of the extreme right.

Unlike liberal analyses, which insist on the thesis that "Brazilian society" desired the coup and dictatorship (due to a supposed authoritarian "essence") or that there was an imbalance in the bourgeois democratic system, our assessment must imply a classist analysis and, from this, define a consistent political line.


The military coup must be understood as a result of the exhaustion of the populist political system and a response by the dominant classes to the nationalist-reformist bloc represented by João Goulart. This bloc had a nationalist and populist political line, as well as a political perspective of class conciliation. In this populist political system, set up since the 1940s, during the Vargas government, the action of the working class should be limited to demanding small political and economic gains and their organizations (unions, associations, etc.) should act in a manner supervised by the State. The role of the working class, for populism, would be to make demands within the order, without any revolutionary proposal and subordinating its demands to the limits of bourgeois governability.

The background to this perspective was the supposed possibility (which some left-wing organizations still promote today) of carrying out structural changes that would benefit the oppressed classes through peaceful action, institutional dispute and conciliation with the national bourgeoisie, in a more independent line. to imperialism and foreign capital. This was the position of this national-reformist bloc, represented at the time by Jango, labor organizations, unions and political associations that were betting on the line of class conciliation.

However, under the context of peripheral capitalism in the pre-64 period, the Brazilian dominant classes, dependent on multinational capital and subordinated to imperialism, would never admit that the oppressed classes continued to receive small specific conquests. With the growing class mobilization of urban and rural unions in the early 1960s, the Brazilian bourgeoisie, associated with other sectors of the dominant classes, began to agitate the possibility of a military coup, which would defeat the national-reformist bloc and put end to the populist political system.

The instrument of military coups had been used by imperialism, especially since the 1950s, as an "anti-communist" solution aimed at maintaining or deepening imperialist domination on the American continent. The military coup was then prepared by two coup institutions, the Institute for Research and Social Studies (IPES) and the Brazilian Institute for Democratic Action (IBAD); with the participation of businesspeople from national and multinational companies, military personnel, journalists, technocrats and intellectuals, these organizations began to wage an intense coup campaign, with the support and financial resources of North American imperialism.

Its immediate objective was to overthrow the João Goulart government, strengthen the agitation of the extreme right (financing the Marchas da Família com Deus pela Liberdade) and defeat the national-reformist bloc and its policy of class conciliation. In the medium and long term, the aim was to consolidate the presence of external capital in the Brazilian economy, reinforce submission to imperialism and destroy any prospects for social mobilization.


The military dictatorship was instituted as a way of defeating populism, stopping the possibility of basic reforms that would benefit sectors of the oppressed classes and establishing an extreme right-wing government, subordinated to imperialism and preventing any types of classist social organization and mobilization.

The dictatorship flattened wages, reduced purchasing power, silenced class mobilization and increased banking, land and income concentration in the country.

A process of widespread violence, with kidnappings, torture, arrests and murders was carried out by the Armed Forces and their partners from the ruling classes. Unions, left-wing organizations, popular movements, indigenous people, peasants and any sectors that took a stand against the logic of the military regime were persecuted. It is estimated that 1,654 peasants and more than 4 thousand indigenous people were killed or disappeared, between the military dictatorship and the Sarney government (1985-1989). The repression did not even spare children - sons and daughters of those who dared to organize and fight against the barbarities of the dictatorship.

Like other leftist currents, anarchists also suffered the action of repression, with the invasion of their social spaces, being victims of arrests and prosecutions for their political action in the student movement.

Valorous comrades resisted the dictatorship with weapons in their hands and/or in their class entities and, despite the strong repression suffered, their example allowed popular resistance to continue, wearing down the regime and preparing the democratic opening.


The democratic opening provided amnesty to coup plotters and torturers, while guaranteeing a renewed social pact of the New Republic. A renewed system of domination, which took off the uniform of dictatorship and put on the civilian clothes of bourgeois democracy. In this pact, social demands and demands were channeled into institutions, despite the fact that even during the military dictatorship, in the 1980s, numerous demonstrations, looting of supermarkets and popular marches against the increase in the cost of living toured the country.

One of the implicit agreements of this social pact was to guarantee that popular movements would not radicalize towards the left and that they would submit to the strict limits of bourgeois democracy and republican institutions. On the other hand, it was necessary to guarantee the process of bourgeois overaccumulation and the maintenance of the privileges of the dressed and uniformed caste. It was also necessary to guarantee, through elections, the moderation of popular demands and their movements, as well as a controlled process of alternation in control of the state apparatus. The moderation of popular and labor demands, as well as the control of social movements, fell mainly to the Workers' Party (PT) with its formation in the late 1970s and consolidating its control over the movements when it ascended to state power in 2002 - a moment in which that the policy of class conciliation through the PT program is explicit, and the stagnation of struggles.

However, in 2013/14, two elements of this pact were broken. The first were the demonstrations of June 2013, the destruction of private property and methods of direct action - at least in large urban cities - also brought diffuse elements of political consciousness (taken advantage of on the left and right), showing that the PT could not control these movements and no political force could concretely channel it. The second is Dilma's reelection in 2014. If the alternation of power had already been broken in previous electoral elections, maintaining a fourth PT term seemed unacceptable to a sector of the dominant classes. Despite having benefited the banking system and not threatening any structural element of Brazilian capitalism, the PT's small gains and specific policies of weak distributivism seemed unacceptable in a recessive stage of capitalism and in the face of a political continuity that was beginning to be questioned.

Part of the sectors of the ruling classes embarked on yet another coup action using the instruments of Operation Lava Jato, channeling diffuse dissatisfaction and a growing organized right-wing movement, more visible from 2015 onwards, resulting in the legal-parliamentary coup of 2016.

Six decades after the military coup, we still live in a context of a renewed pact and class conciliation, with the Lula-Alckmin government's attempt to "pacify" the country, "reconstruct" part of what was destroyed by the Temer and Bolsonaro governments, and promote small social reforms in agreement with part of the national bourgeoisie. This political line is currently hegemonic in many unions, social movements and left-wing political currents, even dragging sectors that are more critical of Lulism to act as satellites in this new round of conciliation. By this logic, the PT would once again pacify the social conflicts expressed on the right and left, while governing based on a "social consensus" - today, shattered.


The reformist attempt at yet another class pact puts all the chips on the institutional dispute and bourgeois governance. And due to the intrinsic logic of reformism, it always leaves social organization and action in the background or, even in its even more backward versions, condemns it. As an example of this backward action, the Lula-Alckmin government determined, this year, not to hold events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the military coup.

Even with the decision of a sector of the bourgeoisie and the STF to rebuild this consensus, specifically punishing the coup plotters of January 2023, and to resume bourgeois democratic normality, we know that this social pact has been divided and can no longer be resumed in its entirety. .

The uniformed party remains organized and active in the country, associated with the most reactionary political forces of Brazilian capitalism and articulated with sectors of our country's ruling class. Any attempts at conciliation will end up disarming our class in the face of the political confrontation that is being postponed. Our bet must be not only to immediately punish the coup plotters and dismantle their proto-fascist organizations, but to strengthen a revolutionary perspective in rural and urban movements, today hegemonized by the logic of conciliation.

While our enemies arm themselves, propose the tightening of the regime and permanent mobilization under their reactionary banners, the large left-wing organizations and social movements continue to trust in the STF, in judiciality and bourgeois governance. We need to return to a political perspective that defends the rights of the working class and advances the perspective of self-managed popular power.

In the 60th anniversary of the 1964 military coup, our political line must be firmly positioned with three short and medium term banners. These flags do not exhaust popular demands, but they are conditions for us to overcome the coup and pave the way for the advancement of other struggles:

· Dismantle the privileges of the military in Brazil, end the military police and repressive police actions in the outskirts!

· Conviction of the torturers, murderers and financiers of the military dictatorship, reparation for the victims and construction of memory centers of the period!

· Immediate punishment of financiers and senior political and military leaders responsible for crimes committed during the years of the Bolsonaro government!

Neither Forgetfulness nor Forgiveness, Dictatorship Never Again!

For the Social Revolution and Libertarian Socialism!

Libertarian Socialist Organization (OSL), March 28, 2024.

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