Brief history of the Communist Party in Brazil

Dora Longo Bahia, The police come, the police go, 2018 - Acrylic on cracked laminated glass 50 x 80 cm


No é militancy in a given party, with a specific denomination, which constitutes the red thread uniting internationalist communists of yesterday and today

On March 25, 26 and 27, 1922, nine delegates, representing less than eighty militants, founded, in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, a party organization registered in the Official Gazette of the Union as the Communist Party – Brazilian Section of the Communist International. (PC-SBIC). Pregnant with senses, the name and the last name of the tiny political group defined its two basic objectives. On the one hand, he was inspired by the victory, just five years before, of the Soviet revolution in the Russian Empire, and, on the other, by the Third International, founded three years earlier in Moscow.

At the First Congress of the Communist International, Lenin, Trotsky and Christian Rakovsky, elected to direct it, delegated the responsibility to G. Zinoviev, who had, as one of his secretaries, the Belgian-Russian Victor Serge. Zinoviev and L. Kamenev were V. Lenin's oldest, closest and most outstanding collaborators. The acronym PC-SBIC recorded the iron commitment to fight for the Soviet organization in Brazil, part of the construction of the “World Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”, defined by Lenin as the main objective of the International, when it was founded. (1)


The late introductiontion of Marxism in Brazil

The founders of the Communist Party of Brazil (PC-SBIC) were Astrogildo Pereira, Cristiano Cordeiro, João da Costa Pimenta, Joaquim Barbosa, Abílio de Nequete, Hermogênio Silva, Luís Peres, José Elias da Silva and Manuel Cendon. The vast majority came from anarchism, attracted by the proletarian victory in Tsarist Russia, in October 1917. The introduction of Marxism in Brazil was late and that handful of delegates were almost unaware of it. Reality that remained for many years. An understandable phenomenon. (2)

In 1922, Brazil was a federation of semi-independent States, where the rural world dominated and, in it, multiple relations of pre- and semi-capitalist production. Especially in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul, a small urban working class was formed, often highly combative, a product of the incipient regional industrialization. The professions of the PC-SBIC founders mirror this reality: barber, journalist, electrician, tailor, shoemaker and urban workers. The Brazilian nation-state and a strong proletariat were post-1930 phenomena. (3)


revolutionary communismarius

Under the influence of the worldwide advance of the workers' struggle, the PC-SBIC embraced revolutionary and internationalist communism without any pretense. Its statute proposed: “The Communist Party aims to promote the international understanding and action of the workers and the political organization of the proletariat in a class party for the conquest of power and consequent political and economic transformation of the Capitalist Society into a Communist Society.” (4)

On March 25, 26 and 27, 2022, the centenary of this unbreakable programmatic proposal will be celebrated. But is it an exclusive celebration of the party or the parties that eventually remained faithful to this program, if any? No! All, without exception, who identify with that program and strive to apply it, will celebrate the tiny meeting that announced the alliance of the world of work in Brazil with revolutionary communism and internationalism. Pact of struggle for which thousands of women and men who were born or lived in Brazil lived and died.


the red thread

          It is not militancy in a given party, with a specific denomination, that constitutes the red thread uniting internationalist communists of yesterday and today. The traditional genealogical dispute between the PC, the PC do B and even the late PPS over the symbolic heritage of the founding act of Niterói does not proceed. The progeny of the PC-SBIC is essentially a political issue, not an organizational one. It depends on loyalty to the 1922 program. It would have mattered little if the party had changed its name, if it had kept the program. The party of Stalin, Khrushchev and Gorbachev was not the same as that of Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Rakovsky and thousands of internationalists murdered by a Stalinist bureaucracy that adopted the acronym of Bolshevism, violating its program and traditions!     (5)

Since the end of the 1920s, the leadership of the PC-SBIC broke with its original program, with internal democracy and democratic centralism, submitted by the bureaucracy that had taken over the leadership of the USSR, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the Third International . The latter, dissolved on May 15, 1943, when it was already a walking political corpse, by a monocratic decision of the “Father of Peoples”, to strengthen the pact with world capital that it naively subscribed to. (6)


Revolutionary Communist Leaguearia

Since the advent of Stalinism, the International, under the bureaucratic dictatorship, demanded that the communist parties of the semi-colonial and colonial countries defend the realization of industrialist and bourgeois revolution, abandoning the socialist struggle and internationalism at the end of the day — “Revolution by Stages” and “Socialism in One Country”. The then Communist Party of Brazil, politically, socially and ideologically fragile, without solid ties with a proletariat in formation, embraced collaborationism and nationalism, bowing to pressure from Moscow. Years later, on November 26, 1945, in Recife, Prestes proposed, in a large rally: “It is preferable […] to tighten the belly, go hungry, than to go on strike and create disturbances – because disturbances and disorders in the historical stage that we are going through are only of interest to fascism.” (7) It was militated by the bourgeoisie, against the workers.

In the early 1930s, the lowering of socialist and internationalist flags gave rise to a split in the PC-SBIC, inspired by the International Left Opposition, the future IV International. On January 21, 1931, the Internationalist Communist League was born, which considered itself a “left-wing fraction” outside the Communist Party of Brazil. Later, it assumed itself as an independent organization, by proposing the degeneration of the communism of Stalinist obedience. Leading internationalist communists such as Mário Pedrosa, Aristides Lobo, Lívio Xavier, Edmundo Muniz, Rodolfo Coutinho and João da Costa Pimenta participated in this movement. The latter, a typographer, grandfather of Rui da Costa Pimenta, president of the PCO, was one of the founders of the PC-SBIC, in Niterói, in 1922. The LCI was strongly repressed by the police repression that followed the putsch of the ALN, from November 1935, directed by the then Communist Party of Brazil. In the following years, severely repressed, small Trotskyist organizations remained active, under and after the Estado Novo.  (8)


revolutionary reflux

The difficulty of the Fourth International in maintaining the continuity of revolutionary communism was largely due to the assassination of L. Trotsky, in 1940; to the vile and criminal attacks of the Stalinist apparatus, which murdered and battered internationalist communists throughout the world; and, notably, the ebb of the revolution, with the defeats of the revolution in Germany, in 1923, and in Spain, in 1939, etc. It created enormous difficulty for the internationalists, the prestige of Stalinism, held responsible for the victory over Nazism, a victory obtained by the titanic effort of the population of the USSR, although the erratic leadership of the Stalinist bureaucracy. In the USSR, the historical cadres of the Left Opposition, the true Bolshevik elite, which had participated in and led the October victory of 1917 and had fought and won the Civil War from 1919 to 1921, were annihilated by the thousands. (9)

After 1945, a new, fragile and inexperienced Marxist-revolutionary leadership, under the incessant Stalinist attack, with difficulty in putting down roots in the working classes, commonly assumed a propagandist bias, not infrequently looking for confusing shortcuts to the revolution. Since the 1960s, with the crisis of Stalinism and post-Stalinism, revolutionary Marxism has been relatively strengthened. Divided into several currents — Mandelist, Lambertist, Morenist, etc. —, did not manage to become leadership of the vanguard proletariat, often breaking loyalty with the internationalist program.

In Brazil and in the world, currents claiming to be Trotskyism celebrated the defeat of the Afghan Revolution of April 1978; the dissolution of the USSR and the Eastern European Workers' States, in 1991, announced as a “political revolution”. They celebrated the imperialist attack on Yugoslavia, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, etc. Some of these currents, in fact, facilitated the 2016 Coup. To the political fight against this petty-bourgeois and anti-communist degeneration, L. Trotsky dedicated his last and luminary book, In defense of Marxism. In it, he explained the reasons for the imperative need for the unconditional defense of the USSR, beyond its Stalinist and bureaucratic leadership. (10)


waiver of origins

          The political degeneration of the two great organizations that claimed to be heirs of the PC-SBIB was inexorable: the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) and the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). The PCB continued in collaborationism even after the historic defeat of 1964, in which it had immense responsibility. (11) An orientation that had its first political challenge, in March 1980, from within the party, with the “Letter to the Communists, by Luís Carlos Prestes. Prestes and his daughter, Anita Leocádia, who returned from exile in the USSR to Brazil, defended positions that put the socialist program back on the agenda and fought against collaborationism (“reformism”). In the “Letter”, Prestes proposed: “We communists cannot abdicate our status as fighters for socialism, restricting ourselves to supposed 'democracy' (...).” He defended a “left front” with those who fought for socialism. It clearly pointed to overcoming stage-collaborationism. (12)

The “Carta” and the break with the Central Committee had a strong impact on the PCB, attracting a large number of “prestista” militants, who organized themselves independently. PCB Defense Committees and more enduring organizations emerged, such as Coletivo Gregório Bezerra, Corrente Comunista Luiz Carlos Prestes and Reconstruction of the Brazilian Communist Party. The sowing was good, but the harvest failed. Prestes did not propose the formation of a new association and looked for a party that would welcome the dissident “prestistas”. The movement to join the PT was blocked by Lula da Silva. A strong group, mainly from Rio de Janeiro, landed in Leonel Brizola's PDT, Prestes being named "President of Honor" of that party, without adhering to it institutionally. The impulse dissolved, helped by electoral and electoral disputes and by the beginning of the reflux of the social movement in the country. (13)

The majority of the Pecebists' leadership and militancy pointed in the opposite direction. In the early 1990s, with the victory of the world counter-revolution and the so-called “Fall of the Berlin Wall”, the Moscow obedience parties undertook a qualitative leap in relation to the collaborationism practiced for decades, throwing the last ties out the window symbols with the past: the communist name, the red flag, the hammer and sickle, the reference to 1917, etc. In the transformist hustle, they disappeared, dismantled, and began to render good services to big capital and imperialism, such as the immense Italian Communist Party, which today is completely blurred. The transformist PCI experienced a rupture that initially achieved some success — the Communist Refoundation Party. (14)


Back às origins

With the shock of the destruction of the USSR, the PCB was engulfed in equal waters, suffering a minority split. In August 1991, the national leadership, meeting, called a congress for the following year, in order to carry out the same full collaborationist metamorphosis, assuming a new name. The operation materialized on January 24-25, 1992, when it embraced the denomination of Popular Socialist Party, which very soon would transition from social democracy to social liberalism. Meanwhile, a few hundred militants, articulated, launched the “National Movement in Defense of the PCB”. Gathered hours before the X liquidationist Congress, they elected a central committee and scheduled a first congress (the X in the old chronology) for March 1993. The “refounded” PCB obtained in court the maintenance of the initials of the symbol. It should be noted that such a progressive movement took place in the context of the beginning of a strong ebb of workers, in Brazil and in the world. (15)

In the “refounded” PCB, there were those who wanted to remain in the past, that is, preserve the old party, its traditions and policies, and those who wanted to advance into the future, in a way, resuming Prestista proposals from 1980. , even after being overcome in essentials, gave rise to indisputable survivals, and their inevitable sequels, which are still present in the organization today. Among them, the difficulty in completely breaking with the Stalinist remnants, very strong, not only, but above all, among the youth. This “saudade Stalinism” metamorphosed, in the last years, in a confused neo-Stalinism, of flavor Lusodian. (16) 

Ivan Pinheiro refers to a rupture in quality between the “refounded” PCB and its “revolutionary reconstruction”. In 2005, finally, the new PCB broke programmatically with stageism and collaborationism and embraced the socialist program, in a movement of return to the proposals of 1922. The character of the revolution in Brazil is socialist” and the “anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist struggle strategy as the only possible alternative to the current reality (…).” Despite the limitations, which were almost inevitable, among them, the absence of reference to the construction of a communist international, a party of world revolution, the resumption by the PCB of the socialist program was a phenomenon of historical significance, not only for Brazil. However, it was little understood and little valued by the Marxist left. As for the PPS, already a legend for rent, under a new name, ended up supporting the 2013 coup.


The Communist Party of Brazil

The Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B) was formed in 1962 as a dissidence from the PCB, when the Prestista leadership commanded the national adaptation to relative de-Stalinization in the USSR, proposed in 1956 after the report on Stalin's crimes, died in 1953. With the “March Declaration”, of 1958, the electoral conquest of power was defended, institutionalizing in the program the collaborationism that had long been implemented in practice. (17)

To secure the national and collaborationist character of the communism Brazilian of Muscovite obedience, the leadership proceeded to change the name of the Communist Party of Brazil to the Brazilian Communist Party. He proposed, then, without embarrassment: “The revolution in Brazil (…) is not yet socialist, but anti-imperialist and anti-feudal, national and democratic…” “The peaceful path of the Brazilian revolution is possible (…).” The break with the 1922 program was total. (18) 

Mauricio Grabois, João Amazonas, Pedro Pomar, card-carrying Stalinists, among others, jettisoned by Prestes from the top leadership of the PCB, formed a new organization, with the name reneged on by the now PCB. O new The Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB), a minority, continued to defend the revolution in stages, “socialism in one country”, verticalist practices in the leadership of the party, in the context of the rhetorical proposal of an armed assault on power in alliance with the  patriotic national bourgeoisieótica.

The defense of Stalinism facilitated the PCdoB's alignment with Maoism and Beijing, which broke with Khrushchev's USSR. When the massacre at Lapa took place in 1976, the participation of cadres from Ação Popular (Marxist-Leninist), with left-wing Christian roots, increased in its direction. Also surprised by the 1964 coup, the PC do B promoted implantation in the countryside that, discovered in 1972, gave rise to the important “Guerrilha do Araguaia”, with at least fifty combatants fallen in armed confrontations, torture or execution, after being imprisoned. (19)


In search of a north

In 1972, the Washington-Beijing alliance was established against the USSR, which shocked the world. It was followed by the Chinese Communist Party's abandonment of national liberation movements. In this new context, Maoist China recognized Pinochet's coup government in Chile. Finally, with the pro-capitalist reforms of 1978, led by Deng Xiaoping, the PCdoB broke with Maoism in the same year and placed itself under the international direction of H. Hoxha (1908-1985), helmsman of Albania, a small and very backward country in Europe. (20)

After the defeat of Araguaia, in 1974, militants of the PC do B, like those of the PCB, joined the Brazilian Democratic Movement, MDB, a party consented by the Military Dictatorship, acting moderately. They supported the indirect elections and, later, both, the José Sarney government. With the debacle of that government, the PCdoB moved away from the MDB and approached the PT. With the dissolution of the USSR, in 1991, the PCdoB abandoned Stalinism and the “revolution by stages”, approving, in 1995, the Socialist Program, opening itself momentarily to left-wing Marxist militancy.

The important programmatic definition by socialism had short legs. With the victory of Lula da Silva, in 2002, the PCdoB gladly accompanied the social-liberal reversal of PTism. In 2009, that party, correcting the socialist programmatic slippage, long since overcome by collaborationist practice, proposed: “Strengthening the Nation é the way, socialism é the course!" It launched the struggle for socialism beyond the horizon. (21)

We could continue in this telegraphic review of parties and organizations that claim communism in Brazil. However, it seems plainly clear that no organization has organic and above all programmatic continuity with the foundation of revolutionary communism in Brazil, in March 1922, in Niterói. Even following the wrong paths, tens of thousands of selfless communists lived and died in Brazil with the revolution in their hearts.


Celebraunitary action

The liberal tsunami of the late 1980s weighs on the world. It inaugurated the Counterrevolutionary Era that continues and continues to be radicalized today. Marxism, workers and the communist program have never been so fragile. In Brazil, the world of work and the popular classes have suffered successive defeats for decades, exacerbated in 2016. In the country, the hegemony of the collaborationist opposition, from the right, center and left, is deepening, militating against the autonomy of the oppressed classes. Abandoning the socialist program for identity electoralism —race, gender, nationality—, it fights tooth and nail to maintain and extend its participation in state management, depressed in 2016 and 2018, which it intends to resume in 2022. (22)

In Brazil, there is a large number of unorganized militants who embrace the revolutionary program. There are several organizations that claim for the socialist revolution, internationalism, unconditional solidarity with the peoples and nations attacked by imperialism. Rare have more than a thousand militants, dominating groups with dozens of adherents, in a country of more than 210 million inhabitants. In general, for many years, they have pursued the vegetative growth of their apparatus, often to the detriment of competing groups.

For decades, in the revolutionary-Marxist movement, the struggle to build a communist international has been advanced through the centralization of smaller political groups by relatively more successful national organizations — from France, England, the United States, Argentina, Brazil. In general, these initiatives are multiplied and weakened by fragmentation. In Brazil, everything points to no organizational nucleus becoming an effective revolutionary unifying center with the urgency that the country needs.

Revolutionary communists are atomized, dispersed, commonly confused, outside and inside different political organizations. In addition to divergences of origin, tradition, history, narrative and even idiosyncracy, a common denominator is the decision to fight for socialism, in the here and now; the political centrality of workers; the worldwide nature of the revolution and the need to build a mass international. International understood as the world party of the revolution.


Singing together the International

March 25, 2022, the centenary of the PC-SBIC, may be a unique moment to take a step towards overcoming the estrangement between internationalist revolutionary communists. In Brazil and in the world, the general panorama of internationalist communist militancy has changed substantially in relation to the past. Today, there are unavoidable differences between those who claim to be revolutionary Marxists, the same occurring between communists who refer to the founding of the PC-SBIC, in 1922. And there are, certainly, similarities horizontal, between these and those, non-existent in the past, anchored in the reference to the defense of socialism and internationalism. A unification of revolutionary communism is a far-reaching initiative, which will materialize, in substantial form, with the eventual reconquest of protagonism and partial victories of the working classes, in the world and in Brazil. Achievements that require a strong classist and internationalist leadership.

Among the organizations born in the founding act of 1922, which remained faithful to the leadership of the former USSR, the PCB, which emerged after 1991, is the largest group that carried out, in a more consequential way, the return to the socialist program and democracy internal. It has a nucleus capable of understanding the importance of celebrating the XNUMXth anniversary of the PC-SBIC, bringing together all the groups and militants that claim revolutionary communism and internationalism, and accept to embrace the initiative. Proposal that, in order to be effective, will have to overcome countless obstacles, of all kinds, even more so in the present day, of electoralism, parliamentary cretinism and frantic identityism.

The present proposal did not come from my head, but from the exchange of ideas with comrades from different political backgrounds. I am responsible only for the current presentation and the reasons that I believe strengthen such an initiative. There can and must be, however, many other good reasons, even contradictory to those outlined here. The Greek Communist Party (PKK) advanced a similar proposal a few months ago: resumption of the socialist program, break with collaborationism and the need to build a communist international, due to the destruction of the III, which it defined as criminal. A proposal for a more ambitious initiative, which goes far beyond a simple unitary celebration. We lack more precise information about the pronouncement of the PKK leadership. (23)

Understanding the importance of a collective and democratic celebration of the hundred years of the founding act of the PC-SBIC, I risk lighting a candle here for Negrinho do Pastoreio, praying that it shed light on the current difficult and stony path towards a unity that has already existed, in 1922, in Brazil, among revolutionary communists and internationalists.

* Mario Maestri is a historian. Author, among other books, of Revolution and counter-revolution in Brazil: 1500-2019 (FCM Publisher).


(1) BROUÉ, Pierre. histólaugh at the communist international. Volume I and II. São Paulo: Sudermmam, 2007.

(2) PEREIRA, Astrojildo. FormaPCB: 1922-1928. Lisbon: Press, 1976; ZAIDAM FILHO, Michel. communist in céu open. 1922-1930. Belo Horizonte: Book Workshop, 1989; FALCÃO, Frederico José. The men of the right step: the PCB and the left. revolutionary in Brazil, 1942-1961. São Paulo: Ed Sundermann, 2012.

(3) MAESTRI, Mario. revolutiontion and Counter-Revolution in Brazil: 1530-2019. 2 ed. Enlarged. Porto Alegre: FCM Editora, 2019.

(4) PC do Brasil Foundation Statute (1922), Maurício Grabois Foundation.

(5) BROUÉ, Pierre.  The Bolshevik party. Paris: Minuit Ed, 1969.

(6) cf. Note 1.

(7) PRESTES, Anita Leocádia. Luiz Carlos Prestes: a Brazilian communist. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2015. P. 272.

(8) ABRAMO, Fúlvio and KAREPOVS, Dainis (eds.). Against the current of historyória: Documents of the Internationalist Communist League. 1930-1933. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1987;

CAMPOS, Alzira Lobo de Arruda; GOMES, Álvaro Cardoso; GODOY, Marília Gomes Ghizzi.

Agony and Death of the Internationalist Communist League: Final Combats. CLIO: Journal of Historical Research – CLIO (Recife. Online), vol. 38, p. 479-500, Jan-Jun, 2020

(9) Cf. BROUÉ P. Trotskyists in the Soviet Union (1929-1938). I and II. Marxist Left.; Idem, Revolutión en allemagne.(1917-1923). France: Juliard, 1954.

(10) TROTSKY, Leon.  Defense of Marxism: USSR marxisme et bureaucratie. Paris: études et documentations internationales, 1976; MARIE, Jean-Jacques. The first fifteen years of the Fourth International. São Paulo: Word, 1981; MAESTRI, M. Afghanistan, Soviet Intervention, Morenists and Lambertists – (1980).ão-intervenção-soviética-morenistas-e-lambertista-mário-maestri-1980

(11) GORENDER, Jacob. combat in the dark. São Paulo: Expressão Popular/Perseu Abramo, 2011.

(12) PRSTES, LC Letter to the Communists. March 1980. MIA.

(13) COSTA, Izabel Cristina Gomes da. A prestista network: the different threads of the “children” of the Letter to the Communists in the PDT. PERSEUS: History, Memory and Politics. n. 09 (2013).

(14) AGOSTI, A. History of the Italian Communist Party. 1921-1991. Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1999; TELESE, L. Qualcuno was a communist, Milano: Sperling & Kupfer, Milano, 2009.

(15) PINHEIRO, Ivan. The Revolutionary Reconstruction of the PCB. December 1st, 2019.

(16). MAESTRI, Mario. Domenico Losurdo: A Hoax in the Land of Parrots. Essays on Stalinism and Neo-Stalinism in Brazil. 2 ed. Porto Alegre: FCM, 2020.

(17) PCB Policy Statement: Central Committee of the Communist Party of Brazil. March 1958, Working Voice, 22-03-1958. MIAs.

(18) SANTOS, R. Statement on the policy of the Brazilian Communist Party. Brazilian political agraristas [online]. Rio de Janeiro: Edelstein Center for Social Research, 2008. pp. 129-153. ISBN: 978-85-99662-81-6.>; PINHEIRO, Ivan. The Revolutionary Reconstruction of the PCB. Oc.cit.

(19) LIMA, Harold. itinerlist of struggles of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB): from 1922 to 1984. 3rd ed. Salvador: to Maria Quitéria, 1984; COMMUNIST PARTY OF BRAZIL. the poly linetica revolutionaria of the Communist Party of Brazil. In defense of workers and the Brazilian people: PC do Brasil documents – from 1960 to 2000. São Paulo: Anita Garibaldi, 2000.

(20) MAESTRI, Mario. Awakening the Dragon: The Birth of Chinese Imperialism. 19481978. GPOSSHE Notebooks, Fortaleza, V.4, n. Single, 2021.

(21) Socialist Program for Brazil. The strengthening of the Nation is the path, socialism is the path. PCdoB. October 9, 2009

(22) MAESTRI, Mario. 1822-2022: The submission and manipulation of the world of work. Major Letter, 18/09/2021,

(23) MAESTRI, Mario. Greek Communist Party: Crossing the Rubicon. The revolution is socialist, world-wide and lacks an international one. The Earth is Round. 11/03/2021,;

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