This is the speech given by Tomas Castanheira on the 1st of May 2022 at the International Labor Day Rally Online. Castanheira is a prominent member of the Socialist Equality Group in Brazil. You can find all the sermons below wsws.org/mayday.
On this historic day in May, the ICFI called on the working class of all countries to engage in a united struggle against the imperialist war, the endless epidemic of COVID-19, and their true common cause: the capitalist system in its dissolution.
On behalf of the Socialist Equality Group in Brazil, I invite all Brazilian and Latin American workers and youth to join this struggle. Only cooperation among the working class – both in the oppressed countries and in the imperialist countries – based on the perspective of world socialism is able to overthrow imperialism throughout the world and ensure the progress of all mankind.
It has been proven in all countries in recent years that the capitalist class is wholly unfit to maintain its control over society. In Latin America, a region of the world marked by extreme social inequality, billionaires have doubled in the midst of the pandemic while the living standards of the masses have plummeted for decades.
It is estimated that the impact of the war in Ukraine on fuel and food prices is keeping more than 10 million Latin Americans in poverty. But the financial elite is speculating on the profit opportunities offered by the war. “There are many countries that import the same products from Russia and Ukraine as they import from Latin America and the Caribbean. The President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said.
Representatives of the Latin American bourgeoisie and its media propagate the illusion that they can remotely play with the fire of the imperialist war. This points to an urgent need for the working class to take over.
The outbreak of a new world war, the size of which cannot be compared with the previous two, will inevitably put Latin America on the map of conflicts. The United States sees the proxy war it is waging against Russia in Ukraine as the first stage of a military escalation against China. China’s dependence on raw materials produced in countries such as Brazil, Chile, Peru and Argentina, as well as its investments in Latin American markets, are strategic points in the war calculations of the imperialist powers.
The last Great World War brought the outbreak of American imperialism to the world stage. In the 1940 Manifesto of the Fourth International on the Imperial War and the World Proletarian Revolution, Trotsky noted that the brutal accumulation in the United States was a violent solution to the complex contradictions of the Western Hemisphere. The United States’ “good neighbors” policy in Latin America is soon being replaced by an iron fist.
These predictions were tragically confirmed in the post-war period. By intervening, organizing coups and consolidating brutal military dictatorships—such as the coups in Brazil (1964), Chile (1973), Argentina (1976), the Contra War of the 1980s in Nicaragua and many others—American imperialism engulfed the revolutionary spirit of the youth. The Latin American proletariat in the blood.
The new imperialist war instigated by the United States does not reflect the strength of American capitalism but its historical decline. In a time of crisis, the military power of the United States rises even more brutal and ruthless in its quest for world domination.
However, to paraphrase what Marx said, bourgeois imperialism is like a sorcerer unable to control the infernal forces he conjured. Every military action she takes in her desperation to retain power leads to a new, uncontrollable explosion of the internal and international class struggle.
The mass destruction of living standards under capitalism is leading the working class in Latin America and around the world to confront the ruling bourgeoisie.
Mass protests against rising fuel prices erupted in Peru as a direct result of the war in Ukraine. In Brazil, the same conditions led to a wave of strikes in dozens of sectors. Remarkably, CSN workers staged a spontaneous strike at the largest steel mill on the continent. Workers have been systematically resisting union-imposed losses since the last major strike at CSN in 1988.
These struggles are only the first signs of the class struggles that are on the agenda. They come on the heels of the largest wave of demonstrations in decades, which swept countries including Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil just before and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Latin American bourgeoisie is facing a social time bomb, falling from one crisis government to another. The nascent ‘pink tide’ has shown its very reactionary face to the region and the world. Just months after his election, union leader and Peruvian President Pedro Castillo had the blood of protesters killed by the military on his hands. In Chile, the left pseudo-Borek walks the same path, calling on the hated carabinieros to keep the streets tidy.
The new government led by Lula will not differ from the Brazilian Workers’ Party. Defying fascist Jair Bolsonaro — who is actively preparing for a Trump-style electoral coup on January 6 — Lula has declared his obsession with working with unions to ensure profits for multinationals in order to keep them in the country.
The interests of the workers are not fulfilled by any of these pseudo-bourgeois alternatives. It is necessary to fight for the complete political independence of the working class!
Objective conditions were never favorable for the world socialist revolution. In Latin America and other former colonies, the working class now constitutes the overwhelming majority of society. It lives in large cities and is connected to the working class all over the world through the capitalist production process and the Internet.
The great task ahead of us this May Day is to transform these powerful objective conditions into a conscious movement of the international working class against war, epidemic and social inequality – and for international socialism. An essential element in this process is the building of the world party of the socialist revolution, the International Committee of the Fourth International. Join this fight for the future!