On a sweltering night with 33 degrees and humidity you could cut with a knife, the most successful meeting of Alan Woods Brazilian tour so far was held in Pernambuco in the north east of Brazil. It was also the biggest meeting ever held by the Marxist Tendency (Esquerda Marxista) in Pernambuco.
This has always been the poorest and most oppressed region of Brazil, with a long history of peasant revolts going back to the nineteenth century. In recent years it has experienced a rapid process of industrialization, mainly metal, oil and chemistry, with a very militant working class.
At half past seven on Tuesday the fifth of April 300 people sat crammed into a lecture theatre of the Centro de Educaciao of the Federal University of Pernambuco, in the north east of Brazil to listen to a speech by comrade Alan Woods. Already at quarter past seven every seat in the hall were occupied and many people were standing or sitting in the aisles.
The audience was mainly composed of young people, students from the University, but there were many workers and trade union activists also: oil workers, chemical workers, health workers, teachers and others.
The meeting was opened by Coromoto Godoy, the Venezuelan consul in Pernambuco, who gave a warm welcome to Alan Woods as a friend of the Bolivarian Revolution and a close ally of President Chavez. Also on the Platform was comrade Faustao Severino, of the national leadership of the CUT (Brazilian trade union confederation) and member of Esquerda Marxista, the Brazilian section of the IMT.
Alan spoke for forty minutes explaining the process of the Arab Revolution and its part in the general process of the world revolution: “This is not an isolated event but an expression of the general crisis of world capitalism”, he explained. The speech was followed by a lively session of questions and debate, during which some unfortunate sectarians attempted without success to provoke the speaker on the issue of Libya.
In his reply, Alan said that he was opposed to the Gaddafi regime and that the insurrection in Benghazi began as a genuine popular revolt, but that the issue had been complicated by a number of factors, including national and tribal cross currents. He said that some very dubious elements had attached themselves to the movement in Benghazi, including ex ministers of Gaddafi who had called in the imperialists, which had changed the situation:
“I am opposed to Gaddafi, as I was also opposed to Saddam Hussein. But when the imperialists intervene in an aggressive and criminal way to enslave Iraq, we defended Iraq, irrespective of the regime in Baghdad. If you cannot understand that, I am very sorry for you”, he said.
Alan´s spirited defence of Marxism was met with an enthusiastic response from the public, many of whom later congratulated both the speaker and the organizers. As is the norm in these events, the meeting ended with Alan signing copies of his books, especially Reason in Revolt and Reformism or Revolution, both of which have been published in Portuguese translation by the comrades of Esquerda Marxista.
The meeting acted as a great boost to the morale of the Marxists of Pernambuco, who have already built a strong basis in the workers movement and are now strengthening their base in the youth. Many people expressed an interest in collaborating with Esquerda Marxista and the IMT as a result of this extraordinary meeting.