Brazil’s governing Workers’ Party (PT), under its leader President Lula da Silva, makes no secret of its communist sympathies, writes Augusto Zimmermann.
Since the early 1990s, the party has openly declared its contempt for elections and the rule of law, and has declared its preparedness to use violence in the pursuit of its political objectives.
Government figures openly consort with known terrorist organisations. Some parliamentary candidates reportedly receive payments of millions of dollars from drug-trafficking Colombian guerrillas.
Ever since President Lula da Silva took office in January 2003, his government has been pushing for the creation of undemocratic bodies of external (political) control over the press, television, and movies.
However, the numerous corruption scandals that have recently shaken his administration might have the beneficial effect of demoralising a government bent on establishing a long-lasting populist régime based on a disguised form of elected dictatorship.
Lula da Silva, the charismatic leader of the Workers’ Party (PT), was elected in November 2002 and took office in January 2003. Since then he has employed thousands of members of his party in the state machinery, including Marco Aurélio Garcia, one of the founders of the PT along with Lula and others.
Garcia, who is now Lula’s foreign affairs advisor, is a hardline communist who describes the PT as "radical of the left".
Whether or not the ruling PT is as radical as Garcia himself, the fact is that this advisor to President Lula has openly expressed his personal desire to re-establish Soviet-style communism.
In an academic paper written to celebrate the anniversary of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Garcia, a history professor at the University of Campinas (Unicamp), concluded:
"The agenda is clear. If the horizon that we search for is still called communism, it is time to re-constitute it".
An influential member of the PT’s national directorate, Garcia commented in an interview with Argentina’s leading newspaper La Nación (October 5, 2002) that, once in power, the PT would have no interest in protecting democratic institutions.
He told the paper: "We have to first give the impression that we are democrats, initially; we have to accept certain things. But that won’t last".
A few days earlier, the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde (October 2, 2002) had published a story saying that President Lula seemed to agree with Garcia on this matter. The article said that Lula "strongly believes that every election is a farce and a mere step to take power".
As a way of re-constituting communism in the world, Lula and other PT members created in 1990 an umbrella organisation called Forum de São Paulo (FSP).
In 2004, its organisers declared that the major objective of the FSP was "to compensate our losses in Eastern Europe with our victories in Latin America".
The first meeting of the FSP was attended by delegates of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, Peru’s TUPAC-AMARU guerrillas, Chile’s MIR guerrillas, Spain’s Basque separatist ETA, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA). The US State Department considers all of them terrorist organisations.
As the leader of the political party which created the FSP, Lula was appointed as its first chairman. Dr Constantine Menges, a former CIA intelligence officer, has observed:
"Lula da Silva has been a sponsor of international terrorism because these annual meetings [of the FSP] are used by the anti-US terrorist and radical organisations to coordinate their plans for taking power in their respective countries and for planning actions against the United States." (Brazzil magazine, September 2002).
The current FSP chairman is Lula’s foreign affairs advisor Marco Aurélio Garcia. Under his auspices, the FSP has helped to coordinate the programs of political extremists whose names appear on the FBI’s list of the most wanted terrorists.
According to Dr Phil Brennan, from the US Association of Former Intelligence Officers:
"In a policy dictated by Havana, Garcia has shown special interest in the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Every year since 1990, Garcia has made it his priority to meet with murderous FARC. The meetings have not just taken place in Havana (with Castro himself always present), but also in Mexico where Garcia travelled to meet with FARC member Marco Leo Calara on December 5, 2000." (Brazzil magazine, March 2004).
The FSP publishes a quarterly magazine entitled America Libre. Launched at a 1992 seminar, organised to celebrate the birthday of Che Guevara, its first edition includes an article written by Fernando Martinez Heredia, the head of the Cuban Communist Party’s central committee.
The editor-in-chief is Carlos Alberto Libânio Christo, or Frei Betto, a Catholic priest and former guerrilla in the 1970s. He worked until recently as special aide to the government on agrarian reform programs.
In an article published by America Libre, in 2002, Frei Betto declared: "It is necessary not to yield to the naïve concept of making the revolution through the ballot".
As the country’s most powerful political party, the Workers’ Party (PT) brings under the same banner Trotskyists, Maoists, former guerrillas, Catholic "progressives" and militant trade unionists.
It has some moderate supporters of social democracy; but its dominant radical wing consists of hardliners who are clearly fighting to impose a dictatorship of the proletariat. An article in the PT’s official magazine says:
"We … want far more than a mere equality before the law … We believe that the working classes and all the oppressed majorities have their own historical rights, as rights that are above the limits of any legality. For, as history teaches us, laws are transitory, relative, and nothing more than a juridical expression of the correlation of forces between the social classes …
"Do we want a party that obeys and adapts itself to the limits of bourgeois institutions, or, rather, a party with a clear option for the direct action of the masses, as a party which knows how to act in legal terms but never subjecting itself to the limits of legality … ?"
In 1990, the PT organised its seventh national congress. The event was held in order to discuss long-term strategies for the party. One of the discussions was on whether or not "revolutionary rupture" is a necessary step to bring about "social transformation".
The PT’s official magazine reported the results of this debate in July 1990. It said:
"Over these last 10 years, the PT has … confirmed on many occasions its option for a coherent tactic of combativeness … which characterises every revolutionary party.
"A rapid look at the eight points made at our seventh national meeting confirms [our option for] Gramsci’s notions of hegemonic dispute … the necessity of a powerful state and of engaging ourselves in the ongoing ‘war of position’ … towards a revolutionary rupture."
On March 16, 2005, Veja, Brazil’s leading news magazine, published a cover story about the offering of $5 million dollars by the Revolutionary Army Forces of Colombia (FARC) to the campaign of PT candidates in 2003.
The article quoted official documents from the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, ABIN (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência), attesting to the existence of "close liaisons" between PT members and the FARC drug guerrillas.
One such document revealed that Father Olivério Medina, a Catholic priest who acts in Brazil as FARC’s "ambassador", announced at an April 13, 2002 meeting at a farm near Brasília, that the guerrillas were donating $5 million to the electoral campaign of PT candidates.
An undercover ABIN agent at the meeting reported that the money would arrive via Trinidad and Tobago, a small nation in the Caribbean Sea. It would be sent firstly to businessmen who supported the party, and, afterwards, distributed as their personal contribution to the PT’s regional committees.
The Colombian Government has confirmed that Father Medina is indeed the main person responsible for intermediation between members of political parties in Brazil and the FARC guerrillas.
The Workers’ Party (PT), in an official note, entitled "The Truth about Colombia, the FARC and PT" (February 16, 2002), says that the FARC and the PT are both members of the pro-communist FSP.
But it falsely maintains that there is no evidence of the FARC’s involvement with drug-trafficking.
In fact, the FARC – the biggest and most active guerrilla organisation acting in Colombia – obtain most of their money through criminal activities such as kidnapping and drug-trafficking. The FARC control 30 per cent of all Colombia’s drug market, including its cocaine exports.
From 1997 to 2004, the FARC kidnapped more than 4,000 people, most of them defenceless civilians. In 2004, at least 700 people were taken hostage and sent as "prisoners of war" to the FARC’s military encampments.
Before the US-led military coalition invaded Iraq in February 2003, a delegation of PT congressmen went to Baghdad to express their unconditional solidarity with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and his tyrannical régime.
A few months after their visit, a Rio de Janeiro city councillor – and member of the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B) – successfully introduced at Rio legislation which declared George W. Bush to be a persona non grata in the city. This means that the President of the United States is legally forbidden to visit the city of Rio de Janeiro.
A further disturbing sign of political radicalism was when Brazil’s minister of culture, Gilberto Gil, a pop-singer, organised on August 13, 2004, a concert at São Paulo where an image of the US President appeared with a noose around his neck and the slogan: "Morra Bush, Morra!" ("Die Bush, Die!"). Another image featured a portrait of the Cuban-Argentinean revolutionary, Che Guevara.
Brazil’s ambassador to Cuba, Tilden Santiago, has declared that his country’s political system "should be based on the Cuban régime".
Speaking on behalf of the Brazilian government, the ambassador openly approved the execution of political dissidents in Cuba, by calling them criminals who were nothing but traitors in the service of US imperialism, and who were therefore attempting to "destabilise" Cuba’s communist régime.
Although the Brazilian Constitution does not authorise the death penalty for opposition to the government, ambassador Santiago made the sinister statement: "Likewise, if they try to destabilise Lula, we will also have to take the same measures here."
In December 2003, President Lula decided to visit several countries of the Islamic world, in Northern Africa and the Middle East. The media called it a "Tour of Dictatorships" because he visited only oppressive régimes with appalling human rights records, such as Algeria, Sudan, Libya and Egypt.
Lula described Libya’s notorious dictator Colonel Gadhafi as a close friend whose "good advice" he greatly appreciated.
On top of all this, President Lula’s administration has refused to comply with the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Lula argued that respecting this international law "would make sense only if all the countries that already have nuclear weapons also gave them up".
In a speech he delivered in 2002 before high-ranking military officers, when he was campaigning for the Brazilian presidency, Lula promised his audience that his administration would turn the country into a nuclear power. He told them:
"Brazil will only be respected in the world when it turns into an economic, technological, and military power." (Quoted in Canada’s National Post, October 31, 2002).
- Augusto Zimmermann is a Brazilian law professor and author, currently completing a Ph.D at Monash University, Melbourne. A longer, footnoted version of this article originally appeared in the English-language Brazzil magazine, July 27, 2005.