September 09, 2006

History: 1917-1918: The Brazilian anarchist uprising

by Ed
A short history of the attempted revolution in Brazil of 1918. The uprising failed when it was infiltrated by security forces, and the army did not join the side of the workers.

In 1918 Rio de Janeiro city was shaken by a series of events that would culminate in one the most important episodes in the history of the Brazilian workers movement: an attempted insurrectionary strike designed to bring down oligarchic republican government and replace it with workers’ and soldiers' councils.

From 1917 on, the class conscious Brazilian workers, particularly in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo had been organising at an accelerated rate. In July that year, the capital of São Paulo state had ground to a halt due to a general strike triggered after the police murder of a young shoe maker, Antonio Martinez. For four days the city was turned into a battlefield with countless clashes between the workers and the security forces. In Rio de Janeiro, which was the national capital in those days, militants from the FORJ (Federação Operária do Rio de Janeiro - Rio de Janeiro Workers Federation) had been busy since the beginning of the year in a campaign against the cost of living and, from February on there had been rally after rally in spite of police bans. By May nearly 50 had been held.

Alongside this process the FORJ was carrying out painstaking work to organise and reorganise trade unions and by the middle of the year this was starting to bear fruit, with the establishment of the Civil Construction Workers Union (UOCC) on 4th April 1917 and the Textile Workers' Union (UOFT) on 8th April.


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