Brazilian Communist Party

Brazilian Communist Party

Infobox Political Party
party_articletitle = Brazilian Communist Party
party_name = Partido Comunista Brasileiro
foundation = 1922
ideology = Communism, Marxism-Leninism
international = Comintern, World Marxist Review
colours = red

Brazilian Communist Party (in Portuguese, "Partido Comunista Brasileiro") was a political party in Brazil, founded in 1922. It playied an important whole in the country's 20th century history.



The Brazilian Communist Party (in Portuguese, "Partido Comunista Brasileiro"), abbreviated as the PCB, was founded on March 25, 1922 in the city of Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. On that day, nine representatives of communist groups from the cities of São Paulo, Santos, Cruzeiro, Porto Alegre, Recife, Niterói, Juiz de Fora and Rio de Janeiro met and approved the party's statutes and the twenty-one conditions for entering the Communist International, though the PCB was not recognized by the Comintern in its first years due to its eclectic ideological roots. The meeting ended with all seventy-three members of the party singing L'Internationale (quietly, to avoid being overheard).

Early years

The PCB's first years were marked by an effort to encourage socialist thinking in Brazil. There had been moderate socialist parties, newspapers and congresses, but much unlike the strong social-democratic parties that existed in many European countries. The radical anti-capitalist thinking had been dominated by anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists, who also dominated the labour movement, such as in the case of the 1917 anarchist actions in São Paulo. Inspired by the Russian Revolution, a group of former anarchist militants who were disappointed in the lack of unity and force of the movement, turned communist and started the PCB. At the same time, some other figures from Brazil's early labour- and socialist movements became inspired by forms of military and authoritarian populism, like the tenentes, that eventually led to the Vargas-revolution of 1930.

During the first years, the party was declared illegal by the government. On May 1, 1925, during the party's Second Congress, its weekly newspaper "A Classe Operária" ("The Working Class") was announced, with five thousand copies being sold on the factories. This number grew to nine hundred copies by the ninth edition, but the police shut the newspaper down shortly after the twelfth edition was published. The paper reappeared in 1928, after the Third Congress was held.

By 1930, after being recognized by the Communist International and with its Socialist Youth division formed, the PCB had nearly eleven hundred members. This marks the beginning of a long period of submission to, initially the Third International, and, after its dissolution, to the political leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. This decade also marked two cycles on the party's history: one of increasing influence, until 1935, and one of decline, until 1942. Both cycles are comprehensible when seen in the context of the Vargas era.

Reorganization and growth

On 1943, during the so-called "Mantiqueira Conference", the party secretly met in the small city of Engenheiro Passos, Rio de Janeiro, and in an open letter to Vargas decided to support a declaration of war on the Axis. At the same time, Luís Carlos Prestes was elected to the party's presidency. On 1945, after Vargas's dictatorship ended, the PCB became legal once again. By 1947, it had nearly two hundred thousand members. In the 1947 legislative election, it received 480 thousand votes or about 9% of total votes cast. However, this period of official tolerance did not last long, as President Dutra denounced the PCB as "internationalist, and therefore not committed to Brazil's own interests" in 1948, an action supported by the American government.

In the 1950s, as the party was driven underground, it began supporting major workers' strikes around Brazil. However, this did not prevent the beginning of internal clashes between different factions within the PCB. This became more evident after the Soviet Communist Party's 20th Congress, when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin's policies. The factionalization of the party accelerated after a new Manifesto was passed in 1958, proposing new ways of achieving communist goals. This Manifesto linked the establishment of socialism to the broadening of democracy. Some of its top leaders, dissatisfied with the new Soviet line, quit the PCB and formed a new party, Communist Party of Brazil ("Partido Comunista do Brasil" - PCdoB) in 1962.

In the mid 1960s the U.S. State Department estimated the number of organized communists in Brazil to around 31 000. [Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. " [ Communism and Economic Development] ", in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.]

Military rule years

With this new orientation, the PCB grew in size and exercised a much greater role in the Brazilian left. However, the alliance forged with the other parties did not survive the 1964 coup d'état. PCB did play an important role against the dictatorship, by organizing the workers movement and participating in efforts to unite the opposition in its demands for democratic reforms. At that point in time the communists were a fraction of the democratic opposition front, the MDB. It refused, for example, to engage in armed struggle, differently from other left wing organizations that decided to follow that path. The clandestine operations and the political disputes regarding the strategies to resist the military regime led to many important leaders leaving the party, while many others died in the hands of the military regime. While the Communist Party in Brazil was involved in several internal clashes, the Worker's Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores) was founded. Its creation was the project of a series of left wing groups independent from the PCB (Trotskyists, Stalinists, communist dissidents, ex-guerrillas), together with some left wing Christian groups. It was structured as an alternative to Communist-led unionism in Brazil. It used to take radical instances against the military regime and gained a strong presence in between high skilled workers and middle-class intellectuals. The growth of the PT accelerated the fragmentation process inside the PCB leading ultimately to a big splitt.

Crisis and splitt of the PPS

After the 1979 amnesty, the PCB's leaders began to restructure the party. The 1982 Congress confirmed the democratic agenda, declaring the PCB "a party of the masses, linking socialist goals to true democracy, which will be constructed based on the values of freedom". Once again, internal clashes developed in the party, as it was passing through a process of renewal while its influency in the society declined. The fall of the Soviet bloc was also a strong blow to the party, turning the renewal process into a process of dissolution and abandonment, by some of its main leaders, of marxism. This crisis reached its high point in January 1992.

A group led by the then Secretary General Roberto Freire called a Congress, as it came against a Congressional resolution of one year ago, that would not call a congress for this year and that determined that the party would be kept. Nevertheless Freire managed to organize this congress, in which people that were not members of the party were allowed to vote, thus aproving the end of the party and the formation of the Socialist People's Party ("Partido Popular Socialista" - PPS), in a very similar way to what happened in Italy.

However a small group, led by Ivan Pinheiro (the current secretary general), decided to keep the party and the ideology of Marxist-Leninist. After judicial battles in the mid 1990's the group won the right of continuing to use the name Brazilian Communist Party and the acronyim PCB (see Brazilian Communist Party (1992)).

Electoral results

Presidential elections

Parliamentary elections

* The 1947 elections had just a complementary character at the federal level (since the deputies elected in 1945 had mandates until 1950) and elected the State Chambers according to the new Constitution. The PCB elected 46 state deputies and become a major party in the Federal District (at this time, the city of Rio de Janeiro).

** The party didn't launched any candidates to the Senate, choosing to support other parties' candidates, following the party tactics of a "democratic front".


I Congress - Niterói-RJ, March 1922

II Congress - May 1925

III Congress - December 1928/January 1929

IV Congress - November 1954

V Congress - August/September 1960

VI Congress - December 1967

VII Congress - São Paulo-SP, December 1982 - the Congress was invaded by the police and only concluded, without a new meeting of the delegates, in 1984

VIII Congress (Extraordinary) - Brasília-DF, June 1987

IX Congress - Rio de Janeiro-RJ, May/June 1991


General Secretaries

Abílio Nequete - 1922

Astrojildo Pereira - 1924-1930

Heitor Ferreira Lima - 1931

Fernando de Lacerda - 1931-1932

José Vilar - 1932

Duvitiliano Ramos - 1932

Domingos Brás - 1932

Luís Carlos Prestes - 1943-1980

Giocondo Dias - 1980-1985


Giocondo Dias - 1985-1987

Salomão Malina - 1987-1991

Roberto Freire - 1991-1992

Newspapers and magazines

"Voz da Unidade" - the main organ of the party in the 80's, weekly

"Novos Rumos" - theoretical magazine, open to the contribution of personalities and currents outside of the party

See also

List of political parties in Brazil

List of Communist Parties

Politics of Brazil


External links

* [ Instituto Astrojildo Pereira] (in Portuguese)

Sources (in Portuguese)

* [ PCdoB timeline]
* [ Contribuição à história do marxismo no Brasil (1987-1994)]
* [ Arquivo da Memória Operária do Rio de Janeiro]

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