Brazilian Communist Party

Brazilian Communist Party

Partido Comunista Brasileiro
General Secretary Edmilson Costa  [pt]
Founded 1922
Headquarters Rua das Marrecas, 27, 3º andar, Centro

Rio de Janeiro
Youth wing Young Communist Union
Membership 12,909[1]
Ideology Communism


Revolutionary socialism
Political position Far-left
Regional affiliation São Paulo Forum
International affiliation IMCWP
Colours Red, yellow
TSE Identification Number 21
Seats in City Councils
1 / 56,810

The Brazilian Communist Party (Portuguese: Partido Comunista Brasileiro), originally Partido Comunista do Brasil (Communist Party of Brazil),[2] is a political party in Brazil founded in 1922 which makes the disputed claim of being the oldest political party still active in the nation. It played an important role in the country's 20th-century history despite the relatively small number of members.[1] A factional dispute led to the formation of PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil) in the 1960s, though both communist parties were united in opposition to the Brazilian military government that ruled from 1964 to 1985. But with the fall of the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism circa 1990, the party lost power and international support. An internal coup in 1992 divided the party and formed a new party, called Socialist People's Party, using the former identification number of the PCB, 23.

The youth wing of PCB is known as Young Communist Union.

History [ edit ]

Foundation [ edit ]

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 [ edit ]

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 [ edit ]

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 Joseph 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.[3]

Military rule years [ edit ]

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 Brazilian 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 Brazilian Democratic Movement (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. To the end of the dictatorship, 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, communist dissidents, ex-guerrillas, sectors of the Catholic Left, independent unionists and intellectuals). It was structured as an alternative to Communist-led unionism in Brazil. Forswearing the Popular Front strategy adopted by the PCB, the PT chose instead to take a more radical stance 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 split.

Crisis and formation of the PPS [ edit ]

After the 1979 amnesty, the PCB's leaders began to restructure the party. The 1982 Congress confirmed its 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 influence in society declined. The fall of the Eastern Bloc was also a strong blow to the party, turning the renewal process into one where Marxism began to be abandoned by party leaders. This crisis reached its high point in January 1992.

A group led by the then-President Roberto Freire called its 10th Congress despite a Congressional resolution which had been passed a year earlier that the party would not call a congress for that year and that determined that the party would be kept. Nevertheless, Freire managed to organize it and allow people who were not members of the party to vote. That congress voted to dissolve the PCB and refound it as the democratic socialist Socialist People's Party (Partido Popular Socialista - PPS), in a way similar to what had transpired in Italy.

However a small group, led by Ivan Pinheiro, questioning the legality of the 10th Congress, decided to keep the party Marxist–Leninist.

Refoundation and reorganization [ edit ]

After the dissolution of the PCB, decided by the 10th Congress, the Central Committee minority that was opposed to this action organized an "Extraordinary Reorganization Conference", where it decided to rebuild the party with the maintaining of its identity and by reviewing the path that it had followed in the precedent years. The party then started a battle in order to gain the rights to use the name Brazilian Communist Party and the acronym PCB (which was contested by the members of the PPS) and to legalize the party. In 1996, the PCB would be officially registered.

The Party has realized four congresses since then: the 10th (1993), 11th (1996), 12th (2000) and the 13th (2006). It remains small, in spite of some recent growth during the government of Luís Inácio Lula da Silva and the crisis of PT (it should be noticed that the main result of this process was the Socialism and Liberty Party). Although competing in elections and participating in wider electoral fronts, its electoral results were insignificant.

In 2006, the PCB agreed on a nationwide alliance with two other left-wing parties, PSOL and PSTU. Putting aside some significant ideological differences, the three parties built a common agenda to try to break the polarity between presidential candidates Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB). The coalition also extended to gubernatorial and parliament elections to take place at the same time all over the country. The PCB elected a state deputy (Jorge Souza, in the state of Amapá) and has about 20 local representatives.

The party's union branch currently builds the central Intersindical and is growing greatly in the union movement. The student movement is responsibility of the Young Communist Union, which is also growing in size.

The last party's Congress, the 13th, in 2005, voted to abolish the post of "president" and use only the traditional position of "secretary-general".

Electoral results [ edit ]

Presidential elections [ edit ]

Election Candidate Running mate Colligation First round Second round Result
Votes % Votes %
1922 None None None - - - - -
1926 None None None - - - - -
1930 Minervino de Oliveira (PCB) None None 151 0,008% (#3) - - Lost Red X N
None Gastão Valentim (PCB) None 141 0,007% (#3) - - Lost Red X N
1934 None None None - - - - -
1945 Yedo Fiúza (PCB) None None 569,818 9,71% (#3) - - Lost Red X N
None None None - - - - -
1950 None None None - - - - -
1955 None* None None - - - - -
1960 None** None None - - - - -
1964 None None None - - - - -
1966 None None None - - - - -
1969 None None None - - - - -
1974 None None None - - - - -
1978 None None None - - - - -
1985 None None None - - - - -
1989 Roberto Freire (PCB) Sérgio Arouca (PCB) None 769,123 1.13% (#8) - - Lost Red X N
1994 Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) Aloízio Mercadante (PT) PT; PSB; PPS; PV; PCdoB; PCB; PSTU 17,122,127 27.07 (#2) - - Lost Red X N
1998 Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) Leonel Brizola (PDT) PT; PDT; PSB; PCdoB; PCB 21,475,218 31.71% (#2) - - Lost Red X N
2002 Luís Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) José Alencar (PL) PT; PL; PCdoB; PMN; PCB 39,455,233 46.44% (#1) 52,793,394 61,27% Elected Green tick Y
2006 Heloísa Helena (PSOL) César Benjamin (PSOL) PSOL; PCB; PSTU 6,575,393 6.85% (#3) - - Lost Red X N
2010 Ivan Pinheiro (PCB) Edmilson Costa (PCB) None 39,136 0.04% (#9) - - Lost Red X N
2014 Mauro Iasi (PCB) Sofia Manzano (PCB) None 47,845 0.05% (#10) - - Lost Red X N
2018 Guilherme Boulos (PSOL) Sônia Guajajara (PSOL) PSOL; PCB 617,122 0.58% (#10) - - Lost Red X N
Source: Election Resources: Federal Elections in Brazil – Results Lookup [4] [5]

*PCB supported Juscelino Kubitschek (PSD) informally in 1955, due to its ilegality

**PCB supported Henrique Teixeira Lott (PSD) informally in 1960, due to its ilegality

Parliamentary elections [ edit ]

Year Elections Votes % Seats
1945 Chamber of Deputies 511.302 8.45% 14
Federal Senate 1.095.843 9.73% 1
1947 Chamber of Deputies 479.024 9.2% 2 *
Federal Senate 151.182 2.5% 0
1986 Chamber of Deputies 380,592 0.8% 3
Federal Senate ** - - -
1990 Chamber of Deputies 3
Federal Senate

* 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".

Congresses [ edit ]

  • 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
  • X Congress - Rio de Janeiro-RJ, 1993
  • XI Congress - Rio de Janeiro-RJ, 1996
  • XII Congress - April, 2000
  • XIII Congress - Belo Horizonte-MG, March 2005
  • XIV Congress - Rio de Janeiro-RJ, October, 2009
  • XV Congress: São Paulo, April, 2014

Leaders [ edit ]

General Secretaries [ edit ]

  • Abílio de 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
  • Ivan Pinheiro - 2005-2016
  • Edmilson Costa - 2016–present

Presidents [ edit ]

  • Giocondo Dias - 1985-1987
  • Salomão Malina - 1987-1991
  • Roberto Freire - 1991-1992
  • Oscar Niemeyer 1992-1996
  • Zuleide Faria de Mello 1996-2008

Newspapers and magazines [ edit ]

  • 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
  • O Poder popular - current newspaper

See also [ edit ]

References [ edit ]

  1. ^ "Eleitores filiados".
  2. ^ "URC: "O desenvolvimento da luta revolucionária exige uma nova postura dos comunistas"". 9 August 2013.
  3. ^ Benjamin, Roger W.; Kautsky, John H.. Communism and Economic Development, in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 62, No. 1. (Mar., 1968), pp. 122.
  4. ^ Brasil, CPDOC-Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação História Contemporânea do. "PARTIDO COMUNISTA BRASILEIRO (PCB)". CPDOC - Centro de Pesquisa e Documentação de História Contemporânea do Brasil (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2020-05-26.
  5. ^ admin (2011-06-03). "DA "DECLARAÇÃO DE MARÇO" DE 1958 À RENÚNCIA DE JÂNIO QUADROS: AS VICISSITUDES DO PCB NA LUTA POR UM GOVERNO NACIONALISTA E DEMOCRÁTICO". PCB - Partido Comunista Brasileiro (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2020-05-26.

External links [ edit ]

Sources (in Portuguese) [ edit ]

Preceded by

20 - SCP (PSC)
Numbers of Brazilian Official Political Parties

21 - BCP (PCB)
Succeeded by

22 - LP (PL)
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