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The Militant, 8 June 1946

Charles Carsten

Brazilian Stalinist “Knight of Hope”
Offers Aid to Reactionary Regime

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 23, 8 June 2021, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Where is the Stalinist party leading the Brazilian masses?

Luis Carlos Prestes, touted as the “genius” leader of the Brazilian Stalinist party and glorified by the Stalinists as the “Knight of Hope,” was released last fall after 10 years of imprisonment by the Getulio Vargas dictatorship. His first political act upon being released was a declaration of support for the reactionary regime that had banned the Communist Party and clubbed the union movement to its knees.

Because of the economic crisis and intolerable conditions in Brazil, workers flocked into the Stalinist party expecting it in view of its connection with the Soviet Union to lead them in the struggle for socialism. Membership of the party grew from 3,000 in May 1945 to about 120,000 at the present time. But the Stalinists are far stronger than even these figures indicate.

The party’s presidential candidate polled 568,000 votes in last December’s election. The Stalinists received about ten per cent of the country’s vote, becoming Brazil’s fourth largest party. Prestes was elected Senator and 14 Stalinist Deputies won posts.

The growing power of the Stalinists is illustrated by the success of a series of rallies held last month. Some 200,000 attended in the Rio de Janeiro, 300,000 in Sao Paulo and 250,000 in Recife. The size and vigor of these meetings indicate the readiness of the masses to establish a workers’ government.

But what does the Brazilian “Knight of Hope” expect to do with this tremendous mass following? In an interview with Joseph Newman, correspondent for the N.Y. Herald Tribune, Prestes said he hoped that President Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who follows the same dictatorial policies as his predecessor Vargas, will some day appeal to him for support, as Vargas did.

“Dutra knows, as does Vargas, that the biggest political demonstrations in Brazil have been staged by the Communists,” Prestes said. “If Dutra wants the big mass demonstrations and the support which we formerly gave Vargas, and which he presently lacks, he will have to come to the Communist party.”

Dutra contemptuously rejected Prestes offer and began chopping down the Stalinists. He closed a number of their cultural and labor organizations and arrested their leaders. With armed force he attempted to break a Stalinist-led strike at Santos, port of the industrial city of Sao Paulo.

On May 23, Dutra’s police machine-gunned a mass meeting celebrating the first anniversary of the Communist Party’s legality. Now Dutra has begun throwing Stalinists out of positions in the Brazilian administration. Open meetings of Prestes’ party have been banned. Dutra’s War Minister, Gen. Aurelio de Goes Monteiro, called for still harsher, more openly dictatorial measures against the Stalinists.

What is Prestes’ answer to this onslaught? According to Newman, Prestes “recognizes the possibility that the government may ban his party and send him back to jail.” Such a step, he. said, would mean “the restoration of a complete dictatorship.” But it wouldn’t last long, this cowardly and treacherous “Knight of Hope” hastens to assure the workers, “because the people will overthrow it.”

With this stupid announcement, Prestes repeats the fatal policy of the German Stalinists during the rise of the Nazis. They too assured the workers not to worry about Hitler coming to power since it would only mean his quick finish!

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Last updated on 22 June 2021