Solidarity Campaign Defeats Suit Against CLC
Ninth Court Action
Ever since its inception, the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil has faced an unrelenting barrage of repression. The LQB was formed two years ago by the largely black Luta Metalúrgica group of metal workers in Volta Redonda, Brazil, the site of the largest steel mill in Latin America. LQB supporters waged a determined battle to remove municipal guardas (police) from the Municipal Workers Union of Volta Redonda (SFPMVR). For carrying out this key class battle for the independence of the workers movement from the capitalist state, the Brazilian Trotskyists have come under assault from the cops and courts, as well as gangster attacks by pro-police provocateurs.
The most recent case was a lawsuit aimed at banning leaflets of the Comitę de Luta Classista (CLC–the Class Struggle Caucus initiated by the LQB) and stifling their voice. This outrageous court action was met with a wide-ranging campaign of labor solidarity, both in Brazil and internationally, which finally forced the dropping of the suit. However, just as soon as this attack was beaten down, the repression against the revolutionaries escalated again. A judicial official showed up at the house of Geraldo Ribeiro, a member of the LQB and CLC and elected president of the SFPMVR, to demand that he appear at an April 9 court hearing of charges against him and another LQB supporter, Marcello Carega.
This is the ninth legal action against the Brazilian Trotskyist workers in the last two years! The pro-cop elements went to the bosses’ courts in mid-1996 to oust Ribeiro as SFPMVR president, while Carega was arrested for leading militant pickets in a general strike that June. Both cases were eventually withdrawn after international protests. The timing of the latest frame-up makes it dramatically clear that there is a concerted campaign to hit them with one blow after another from the apparatus of capitalist state repression. The LQB and CLC denounce this new provocation and demand, as they have from the outset: Cops and courts out of the workers movement!
Last September a lawsuit was launched against Ribeiro and the CLC demanding the “search and seizure” of a CLC leaflet denouncing the theft of workers’ pension funds by the “judicial mafia” and the pro-police clique installed by the courts over the objections of the membership of the SFPMVR. The case was brought by the lawyer employed by the pro-police group of Artur Fernandes (advised by the “Liga Bolchevique Internacionalista”), the instrument of the city bosses’ vendetta against Ribeiro and the LQB for leading the struggle to oust the cops from the union and for exposing the racism of the Popular Front city administration. The case was filed by a top city official who was the chief of staff of the former mayor and secretary of public services.
A court officer was sent to the Brazilian activists’ office to search for the leaflets, and the lawsuit threatened to seize the belongings of Ribeiro and the CLC and to demand a list of caucus members’ names. In November the case was re-registered in court, this time naming retired black steel worker Jorge de Oliveira, while threatening criminal prosecution. As the CLC noted in a January bulletin, this attack set an ominous pattern: in December 1997, the Popular Front city government obtained a court order for the “search and seizure” of a leaflet by a construction workers union leader criticizing city councilmen who voted to charge workers for garbage collection.
An international campaign of solidarity brought forth protest against the repression aimed at the CLC, from Brazilian oil, construction and domestic workers to the South African miners and metal workers unions, U.S. longshoremen, janitors and immigrant workers groups, Salvadoran phone workers and municipal workers in the Philippines. As a result of this outpouring, on March 30 the CLC was informed that the pro-police group’s lawyer had withdrawn her suit and the court had declared it null and void. This was a victory for international workers solidarity, but the state wants to cancel this victory.
On the very next day, March 31, a court official came to comrade Ribeiro’s house with a demand that he appear in court on April 9 for a hearing. We denounce this new attack by the bourgeois state against the LQB! The case is part of a cycle in which gangster attacks and police interventions are followed by court prosecution against the Brazilian Trotskyists. Not only did this prosecution suddenly surface immediately after the previous case had to be withdrawn, the demand to appear in court was made just three days after the CLC published a new bulletin denouncing the role of the Fernandes pro-police clique and the “judicial mafia.”
The Internationalist and the League for the Fourth
International, of which the LQB is the Brazilian section,
call on the workers movement to defend Ribeiro and
Carega against this new state attack.