Socialist Left Movement (Brazil): 8th national conference — An important step forward

MES conference

First published at Movimento in Portuguese.

Between December 8-10, in the city of São Paulo, MES held its 8th National Conference, with 73 delegates representing 21 states, as well as observers and national and international guests.

Debates centred on the international situation, the trade union movement and struggles, PSOL [Socialism and Liberty Party] and the political situation, women and feminism, and Blackness and anti-racism. There was also a discussion dedicated to a balance sheet of our current orientation and the election of a new leadership. The complex national political situation in the wake of Lula’s election, requiring the combination of the need for unity in resistance against the extreme right with the task of independence in the face of the current government’s neoliberal attacks on the working class, was present in each discussion point.

The conference counted on the presence of important guests that are fighting alongside us in this battle. This included Heloísa Helena (Rede), João Machado (Rebelião Ecossocialista), historic FI [Fourth International] leaders José Correia and Ana Cristina Carvalhaes, as well as Everton Vieira and Guilherme Prado, leaders of Fortalecer o PSOL, and members of the Ubuntu collective.

Among the international delegation, we had a significant representation of US youth and trade union activists from the Bread & Roses caucus within the Democratic Socialists of America, representing the strong independent trade union struggles currently occuring in the heart of imperialism. Also represent was the Panamanian MAS [Movement for a Socialist Alternative], who shared their recent experience of the victorious popular struggle against the mining industry in that country. From Puerto Rico, a delegate from DS/MVC [Socialist Democracy/Citizen’s Victory Movement] spoke of the strength of the radical left on the island. Also present was the Mexican MSPP [Socialist Movement for Popular Power] and its example of struggle in the popular and feminist movement. From Venezuela, our LUCHAS comrade discussed not only their national situation, but the need for a broad international movement for education, and from faraway Australia we received a representative from the Socialist Alliance, which has long maintained solidarity relations with MES. As part of the international delegation, the conference also welcomed representatives from the Palestinian community, who have been facing attacks from Zionism in Brazil, and the Nicaraguan Solidarity Committee — two communities with which MES has established deep ties of solidarity and common activism. Greetings were read out from the Executive Bureau of the FI, the leadership of the French NPA [New Anticapitalist Party], La Aurora (Spanish State), Súmate (Peru), along with two video greetings from Eric Toussaint and comrades from Marabunta in Argentina.

During the conference opening, tribute was paid to two greats of the Trotskyist movement who passed away this year: Esteban Volkov and Hugo Blanco. Both were comrades with whom MES had established close relations. The conference also remembered Diego Bomfim, brother of MES comrade Sâmia Bomfim, who was brutally murdered in Rio de Janeiro, and paid tribute to the strength of Sâmia and her family in their return to the struggles.

Organising our tasks

The expansion of our propaganda efforts, mainly through Revista Movimento, was a central part of the debates throughout the conference. Debates on our fronts of action emphasised the need to advance our theoretical training and quality of our propaganda, deepening the ideological struggle as a key part of MES’ work amid a transitional political moment marked by confusion and capitulation. Monthly subscriptions to the magazine, the expansion of our website and social media networks, and other similar instruments are now the central responsibility of all MES militants.

The international discussion was quite diverse, pointing to the need to continue discussing the multidimensional crisis, which is accelerating due to growing socio-environmental collapse, and the urgency of ecosocialism. Support for the Palestinian struggle played a central role in this discussion as the main anti-imperialist struggle in the world today with the resumption of the anti-colonial struggle against the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Netanyahu's Zionism. Also raised was the issue of Argentina, given the first attacks by ultra-rightist [president Javier] Milei, and the need for resistance in Latin America as a whole, as well as preparations for COP30 in Belem in 2025 and the International Meeting Against Neoliberalism in Education, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2024.

On the trade union issue, the rich discussion highlighted the current difficulties of the trade union movement, with some sectors very bureaucratised and others co-opted, and in which fragmentation reigns without a coherent pole, much of it influenced by the retreat of both CSP Conlutas and the two Intersindicales. The conference voted in favour of the need to strengthen TLS [Workers in Socialist Struggle] as a trade union instrument of the MES and the need to boost those major struggles we are engaged, such as in education, transport and health. To this end, it is strategic to develop grassroots work in the sectors in which we are active, through training and regular ongoing support.

The new situation with regard to our relationship with PSOL was also discussed. With the PSOL party congress consolidating the control over the party of a reformist majority, and electoral pressures pointing towards greater adaptation, the conference discussed the need to continue wagering on and disputing within PSOL, while strengthening MES in dialogue with critical sectors of the left in the country, as part of the fight for an independent and ecosocialist alternative. Adaptation, whose opportunist reflexes can be seen at various levels in both the party and the movements, requires a deepening of strategic debate with all radical political sectors.

On the last day of the conference, there were three central points of discussion: feminism and the women's struggle; Blackness and the anti-racist struggle; and a balance sheet of the state of the organisation. On the feminist item, members of Juntas! presented a report on the progress made on this front of struggle amid the complex situation facing the women's movement. They affirmed the need for a popular feminism that focuses on the main tasks facing us today, which relate to confronting the issues of social reproduction and the challenges of articulating the feminist movement. The issue of reproductive rights was also at the centre of discussion, affirming the need to defend them, even in a conservative scenario, and pointing to the creation of new, broader spaces for debate within society as a whole.

The debate on Blackness was another central theme of the conference, building on the collective theoretical accumulation that was materialised in the new edition of Revista Movimento. With a mosaic of actions both in the anti-racist movement and the national self-organisation of Black people, it demonstrated the consolidation of an important process of progress that is being built in a unitary and multifaceted way throughout the country, reflecting the experiences of the struggles on the outskirts of the big cities, of the quilombolas and landless workers in the countryside, of the river dwellers and Amazonian communities, among many other examples, and building the identity of a majority struggle, which is structurally classist, against the permanent racist attacks of capital and opportunist attempts at co-optation.

Unity in diversity

Our last face-to-face conference took place in 2018 in Praia Grande in São Paulo. We held a national 20-year anniversary of the MES in 2019 and a virtual conference at the end of 2021. During this period there has been a great expansion of MES. We have built new regional branches, fronts and spaces for self-organisation. The greatest achievement was the consolidation of fusions with political groupings that had moved close to MES and incorporated themselves into the organisation.

These rich experiences led to the incorporation of the following groups into the MES: Coletivo Paulo Romão, Barulho, Anticapitalistas, 1 de Maio, TLS, and, more recently, a series of comrades from the FI tradition in Espírito Santo, where state MP Camila Valadão is one of the main references of the entire left.

Today we have leadership responsibility and a presence in various movements and spaces: we have the PSOL presidency in RS, RN, DF and TO and the treasury in RJ, PR, PB, RO and MS; two federal deputies, five state deputies and dozens of councillors; and we are the largest youth force in the PSOL and the largest opposition within UNE [National Union of Students] and UBES, with leaders in various central DCEs.

Given the centrality of the trade unions, the challenge of moving towards greater organicity is intense: today we are the largest force on the left in the two largest education unions in the country, APEOESP and SEPE, as well as having leaders in ANDES, Fasubra, and unions in  the health, education and transport sector, especially in Rio Grande do Sul.

MES’ activity in the struggle for land is one of the biggest novelties of this past period. The conference discussed the need to move towards greater harmony in the different movements where the MES is active in the agrarian and popular movement, with the MPL, MNT, FNL, MLST, FSRU, among others, in a very harmonious dialogue with the MST, where in Maranhão, MES leader Reynaldo is an MST leader and was recently elected PSOL state president.

On the basis of these advances, we are wagering on concentrated action to intervene, seeking a new leap in our propaganda work, facing the battle of ideas increasingly through Revista Movimento as a common organisational tool and a central organ for spreading our politics, and thus acting to reinforce our positions.


The MES is maturing. The conference expressed the combativeness and enthusiasm that exists within the organisation for building MES. The level of politics and theoretical elaboration presented on the issue of Blackness and racism was an illustration of this accumulation.

The National Coordination and the National Executive were elected at the end of the conference, based on gender parity and a composition of Black women and men well above the 30% quota that the conference had voted for. A series of important resolutions were also voted on: adoption of the FI international resolution on the climate question, Ukraine and Palestine; the TLS trade union charter-programme; continuing the campaign in defence of the lives of the quilombolas of Maranhão; building the call for a broad anti-fascist conference, starting with the fight against the extreme right in Milei's Argentina; participating in and building the meeting against educational neoliberalism in the second half of 2024 in Rio; and intense preparation for the left-wing discussion at COP30 in Belém.

Our militancy will face ever greater challenges against the backdrop of the multiple crises that we face on the horizon, but the working class will continue to fight and open gaps of resistance against the system that exploits it. We will be in the first trenches of this struggle and this conference was an important advance in our armoury. Let's go for more!

Bruno Magalhães is the editor of Revista Movimento, coordinator of the Emancipa Popular Education Network and a member of the International Commission of the Socialist Left Movement (MES/PSOL).

Israel Dutra is a sociologist, PSOL's Secretary for Social Movements and member of the party's National Directorate, and a member of the Socialist Left Movement (MES/PSOL) National Directorate.