Over 1,200 people attended the rally to launch the Movimento por uma Alternativa Independente e Socialista (MAIS–Movement for an Independent and Socialist Alternative). The new organization emerged after a split within the Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado (PSTU–United Socialist Workers’ Party) that led to the departure of hundreds of members.
Militants who broke with the PSTU in early July published a manifesto, “É Preciso Arrancar Alegria ao Futuro” (“One must snatch gladness from the days that are), that was signed by 739 former members. The signatories then organized the event on July 23. Like the Spanish word más, mais means “more” or “plus”–echoing the acronym belonging to the Argentinian Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS – Movement for Socialism) founded by Nahuel Moreno in 1982.
Delegations from various left-wing organizations attended the rally, including the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (PSOL – Party of Socialism and Freedom), Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB – Brazilian Communist Party), Movimento Revolucionário de Trabalhadores (MRT – Revolutionary Workers’ Movement) and Nova Organização Socialista (NOS – New Socialist Organization). Representatives of unions and other political organizations were also present, such as Carlos Giannazzi, PSOL deputy in the state of São Paulo.
Speakers of the newly-formed MAIS included Amanda Gurgel, elected councilor of Natal; Renato Bento Luiz, General Motors auto worker and leader of the metalworkers’ union in São José dos Campo; Mauro Puerro, former councillor of São Paulo (1989-92) for the Convergência Socialista (Socialist Convergence)–an internal tendency of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT–Workers’ Party); and Matheus Gomes, key organizer during the 2013 protests against the public transport fare hikes in Porto Alegre, among others. A representative from the Movimento Alternativa Socialista (MAS – Socialist Alternative Movement) in Portugal also spoke at the rally.
Former PSTU national executive member André Freire spoke on behalf of the national coordination of MAIS. In his speech, he pointed to central elements of the new organization. The first was the participation in struggles that raised “Fora Temer” (Out with Temer), with a position that was independent of the PT and went toward the construction of a front based in the working class; this intervention was set to begin with the July 31 demonstration against Temer. The second was the need to build a left front in Brazil that were independent from bourgeois parties like Marina Silva’s Rede (Network).
Finally, he called for strategic and programmatic debates, for the reorganization of the revolutionary left in Brazil and across the world. These debates should coincide with next year’s commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. Freire affirmed, “We do not believe that the movement we have founded today will be sufficient if it remains as it is. We describe ourselves as a movement for a new socialist and revolutionary organization. We are merely a pole of attraction that will take action within the struggle of the working class and for the regrouping of the socialist left.”
This last point was also emphasized in a speech by Silvia Ferraro, former national leader of the group, Mulheres em Luta (Women in Struggle). Ferraro pointed out that the demonstrations that called for the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff were not only “anti-June” [the radical demonstrations that took place in June 2013], but were also an expression of the most conservative and reactionary sectors of society. She added, “The demonstrations were 80 percent white. The pro-impeachment protesters were upper-middle class and wealthy, with people parading down the Avenida Paulista [the avenue which runs through the main business center of São Paulo] holding champagne next to their black nannies in uniform.” Ferraro stated that MAIS defends the call for general elections under new rules in response to the national political crisis.
Diana Assunção gave greetings to the new organization on behalf of the MRT membership. During her speech, she stressed the necessity to deepen the strategic and programmatic discussions in order to offer an alternative to those who reject the current coup-installed government, while placing no confidence in the PT. Assunção referred to the Frente de Izquierda y de los Trabajadores (FIT–Left and Workers’ Front) in Argentina as an example of a left front that must be built in Brazil. She ended by inviting MAIS members to utilize the MRT’s digital media, Esquerda Diário, to develop discussions around this issue and others.
The rally closed with a speech by former PTSU national president Valério Arcary. He reflected on the process of the split, the pressures that they have confronted and those still to come in the construction of a new organization. He stressed the need for dialogue among revolutionaries in order to find points of convergence, while also calling on the membership to have “courage, confidence and hope” in order to stand up to the challenges ahead. Arcary stated, “No revolutionary organization is an end, in and of itself. We want to break with the tradition of those who think that they are the only revolutionaries–that they alone can open the road for the victories of the working class in this country. We are not the only ones.”
Translation: Sean Robertson