During the Presidential campaign of 2006 in Brazil, Lula (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) – that comrade turned comprador – made the comment to the Financial Times newspaper that the motivating force of his so-called Workers Party now was that ‘there was no radical change in the model – what we need now, in economics and politics is to strengthen Brazil’s internal and external security.’ The model that Lula was referring to of course was the capitalist-imperialist model.
Since Lula came to power in 2002 (he also won the 2006 election by the way), the Workers Party (PT) has accelerated its right-ward trend away from its origins as a massive labour revolt of millions against the fascist military dictatorship that only ended in 1985, Brazil holding its fisrts liberal democratic elections in 1989, and is today following the path of Thrid Way Blairite Social Democracy, which is to say ‘neo-liberalism with a human face.’
Lula was quite serious when he said that there would be no radical change in the model, and his rule has been marked by strengthening and introducing neo-liberal reforms with only a smattering of social programmes, many of which have been undermined by the very neo-liberal reforms introduced, or have seen new social ills grow as a result.
Within Brazil the Workers Party has seen the development of groups who openly call the Party a Judas, and its hegemony over the working class and organised labour there has been challenged as a result, especially as the successess of the Venezualan Revo have becomre apparent and invigorated the movement towards workers liberation throughout Latin America.
Brazil is hugely important both to the world economy and that of Latin America as well. As the largest country in Latin America, both geographically, population wise and economically, what happens in Brazil has ramifications throughout Latin America in particular, and the world as a whole.
It is with this in mind that one must look at the developments of 31/05/07, where 150 heavily armed Federal Police raided the workers occupied and run factory of CIPLA. The factory has been occupied and run by the workers since a strike in November 2002. Under workers control the factory has seen several radical changes.
All major decisions have been made in a general assembly involving all of the workers, while the everyday running of the plant has been delegated to both a Factory Committee and a Finance and Administrative Council (CFA). Both the Factory Committee and the CFA are composed of recallable delegates elected by the workers assembly, and accountable to them.
Under this self-governance CIPLA has seen the recycling of abandoned machinery, the expansion of production, the removal of several tonnes of rubbish and thousands of barrels containing chemical waste. An energy efficiency programme has been instituted which as of the period of December to April of this year has reduced by 50% the energy costs of the factory, these savings being passed on to the workers. Recently the factory found it was able to reduce the working week to 30 hours while maintaining its wage levels, and has even been able to hire 41 new workers at these same wages, with the same rights, and has continued to expand production. Productivity has actually increased in correlation with the 30 hour week as workers have more time to recuperate in between shifts.
In December 2006 delegates from CIPLA participated in conference in Joinville, Brazil, the Latin American Gathering of Occupied Factories. One of the primary joint declarations of this conference was for the nationalisation of the occupied factories of Latin America along with continued workers control of the factories.
Since the election of Lula the occupied factories movement in Brazil has tripled from four factories to twelve, and this has been accompanied by increasing militancy by other workers in Brazil, with strikes by the postal service, the oil workers and in th eautomobile industry. The Landless Peasants Movement (MST) has become increasingly radicalised in the face of thuggish repression in the countryside. These events have occured largely in reaction to or in spite of the actions of Lula to demobilise the labour movement as he progresses with neo-liberal reforms. The high hopes of the labour movements for genuine change under Lula and the Workers Party has quickly transformed into disillussionment and impatience.
Brazil, though not in a revolutionary situation, was on the path to it as the Workers Party vacilated between its labour roots and its neo-liberal seduction, and the Workers Party risked losing control over the working class. It would seem that with the seizure of the CIPLA factory by heavily armed federal police the Government has decided to reverse the radicalisation and expansion of the movement, attempting to form a bulwark to revolution before the threat become to great. It is understood that members of the CIPLA Factory Committee and CFA have been arrested by this police offensive.
It would not be suprising whatsoever if the result of this reaction by the State is to actually further radicalise the workers movement in Brazil, and with it the rest of Latin America. The CIPLA workers, and others, especially the other occupied factories, are even now mobilising to defend the remaining occupied factories and strike in reaction to the seizure of CIPLA.
All throughout Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, the workers movement is accelerating, and this attempts of counter-revolution by the oligarchs will only fan the flames of workers liberation. The heart of this revolutionary movement continues to be in Venuzeuala, and one would expect to see a heightening of the tensions there, as well as continued US imperialist attempts at counter-revolution there.