Brazil: The International Antifascist Conference in Porto Alegre and the challenge of confronting the far right

antifascist protest

[Editor’s note: A representative from the Socialist Left Movement current within the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) will be speaking at Ecosocialism 2024, June 28–30, Boorloo/Perth, Australia. For more information on the conference visit]

First published in Portuguese in Revista Movimento.

The call for the 1st International Antifascist Conference against the far right has been launched as an international effort of collaboration, led by the Partido Socialismo e Liberdade (Socialism and Freedom Party, PSOL) and the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party, PT). Several international groups have already come onboard and now the Movimento Sem Terra (Landless Workers Movement, MST) has go involved in the organization of the event. Several more confirmations have arrived, and the good progress made so far with preparations is exciting. 

The Conference will take place from May 17-19, with thematic panels, self-organized activities and a grand opening march. There is no shortage of reasons to confront the far right, in Brazil and around the world. In the week that marks 60 years since the counter-revolutionary coup that gave rise to the dictatorship in Brazil, the polarization with Bolsonarismo remains at the center of the situation: whether with the Marielle [Franco] case, or with the struggle for Bolsonaro’s amnesty and against his arrest, which provoke the need for a response from the streets and the mass movement.

On an international level, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu is at the forefront of promoting barbarism in Gaza and the far right seeks to strengthen itself in different countries. It is necessary to stop the far right and discuss different tactics to confront it both on institutional grounds and (especially) on the ground of popular mobilization. Mass action, in the streets, is the main tool for putting fascism on the defensive in different areas.

The far right means dictatorship, genocide and torture

As we remember the anniversary of the beginning of the civil-military dictatorship that lasted 21 years in Brazil, there is an ongoing debate in society about the crimes perpetuated by the military during this period, which included murders, prisons and tortures. Supported by the lack of a transitional justice, the military try to deny what happened and prepare new attempts to put an end to liberal democracy in the country. The January 8 plot and the role that militias fulfill as paramilitary gangs clearly demonstrate the operating capacity of this sector.

In neighboring Argentina, [President Javier] Milei released an institutional video denying the fact that 30,000 Argentinians went missing during the country’s dictatorship period — a fact recognized by the Justice system and the Argentinian State, after years of struggle by the mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, along with several human rights organizations.

There is no coincidence that sectors of the far right in Brazil and Argentina collaborate and share a similar rhetoric: they defend the same project — dictatorship, genocide and torture. Whether during the Brazilian dictatorship, [General Augusto] Pinochet’s Chile or in Argentina under the “military junta”, or in the devastation and genocide of more than 32,000 people — mostly women and children — that we are watching live in Gaza. 

The spirit of Porto Alegre

The far right has been organizing international events and meetings. The recent CPAC [Conservative Political Action Conference] meeting in the United States, which brought together the likes of Milei and El Salvador’s president [Nayib] Bukele, has shown that this sector is preparing a new international offensive, whose main danger is a [Donald] Trump victory in the next [US] elections. In July, a CPAC meeting is planned in Brazil, confirming the country’s role as central to such reactionary collaboration.

It is therefore notable the lack of international collaboration, even if initial, of forces in opposition to this escalation by the far right. The Porto Alegre call is a first, still incipient, step towards gather forces that want to start collaborating, and developing conditions to plan bigger and broader meetings in the future.

At the turn of the century, Porto Alegre was a meeting point for anti-globalization movements, or as they were known at the time, “alterglobalists”. The World Social Forums were a success that brought together different experiences, after the general ebb of the 1990’s. There, the most radicalized struggle processes met — such as those that took place in in Seattle and Genoa together with, for example, Latin American experiences, such as the event organized during [PSOL leader] Luciana Genro’s mandate with [Venezuela president] Hugo Chávez or the demonstration in support of the Argentinazo, which was wrapped up with the installation of a plaque in memory of those killed in the popular rebellion of December 2001.

Strategic limitations and government co-option prevented the Forums from continuing with their same character. Nowadays, there are regional organizations and forums, but without the strength of what was expressed at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Our challenge now is to rescue the “Porto Alegre spirit” to confront the emerging fascism.

Confronting the far right

Our policy is to confront the far right, especially on the streets. To do so, we must link concrete themes such as the anti-militia struggle, which might take a leap forward after the arrest of those responsible for the murder of Marielle, and the struggle against amnesty for coup plotters, past and present.

In terms of agitation, this involves guaranteeing and expanding the call made by PT, PSOL and now MST, in Porto Alegre, to assert the 1st International Antifascist Conference as a space for collaborating towards united confrontation.

In terms of propaganda, it is worth mentioning the new edition of Movimento Revista, which is a special edition dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the military coup, and contains a series of interviews and articles that reflect the need to keep fighting for justice and reparation against the criminals of the 1964 regime.

Our main task is to unite forces in this struggle around the Conference — which should be as broad as possible — as a step forward in the antifascist struggle, the most important of our generation.