Anarchist Advances In Uruguay and Brazil
This information is taken from Organized Anarchism In The South American Cone, an 8 page special supplement of Rojo y Negro, weekly newspaper of the CGT-E 10 de enero del 2007.
The two major anarchist groups in the Souther Cone are the Federacion Anarchista Uruguaya (FAU) and the Brazilian Federação Anarquista Gaúcha. (FAG) According to Rojo y Negro,
Their understanding of anarchism coincides with the CGT, their actions are not conditioned by intractable dogmas, they do not stand in a watchtower and relegate anarchism to the margins of society. But they intervene in society in order to transform it... (and) collaborate with other organizations acting in the neighborhoods, the work place and the countryside.
Anarchism has a long history in Uruguay going back to the 1870's. But in 1945 the syndicalist union federation, FORU, the main center of anarchism, collapsed and there was not much organized anarchist activity. There were a series of major strikes 1952-3 which created an impulse to revive anarchism. FAU was formed in 1956 and from its day of creation was involved in trade unions and workers struggles. 1957-8 saw FAU invoved in factory occupations, expropriations, and the formation of coops and a student organization. A radical union center, the Uruguayan CNT, was founded in 1965 largely by FAU militants.
All this activity made the government nervous, so in typically democratic fashion, FAU was banned in 1967 and the members went into clandestine action which included putting out an "illegal" newspaper. 1971 saw FAU involved in armed actions alongside the MIR, (Tupamaros) though they did not adopt the Guevarist foco ideology. The miltary took over in 1973 and the FAU was heavliy involved in the three week long general strike which followed. Subsequently, thanks to Plan Condor, the group was to lose more than 50 comrades who were tortured then murdered. Many others spent years in prison and were also tortured.
With the return to the parliamentary system in 1986, FAU immediately re-involved itself in the union, neighborhood and student movements. Today, FAU is involved in "all sectors" - PTA's, coops, neighborhoods, as well as work place actions. As a result, they have created 6 community radio stations, 4 community centers and three libraries. Their Solidarity and Mutual Aid organization unites and co-ordinates a host of social organizations.
The Federação Anarquista Gaúcha (FAG) developed out of contacts made between FAU and young Brazilian militants during the 1995 Puerto Allegre Meeting. After the return to "democracy", a decade of anarchist activities ensued, but no national movement arose. Meeting with FAU helped change that. One of FAG's major activities involves the National Recycling Workers Movement – there are about 800,000 recyclers in Brazil and some 40,000 belong to the movement. According to Rojo y Negro, The comrades of FAG developed a vast work of education with the recyclers as well as other workers of the poorer neighborhoods. They also created a Forum of Organized Anarchism (FAO) to unite and co-ordinate all the Brazilian libertarian-oriented groups. FAO has groups in the majority of Brazilian states including Bahia and Sao Paolo. FAO and FAG both work in conjunction with the MST (Landless Peasants Organization) to confront the poverty and corruption of the Brazilian system.
FAU and FAG helps to coordinate and gives an impulse to the libertarian movement in South America. Both were instrumental in setting up ELAOPA (Popular and Autonomous Organizations in Latin America Encounter) in 2003 to promote and co-ordinate anarchist ideas continent-wide. The meeting in Bolivia in 2004 saw 400 delegates from 59 organizations. 2006 saw the meeting in Uruguay with similar attendence.