Editors’ Note: The following is an unofficial translation of “Falece o histórico militante comunista Waldir Tavares,” by A Nova Democracia (AND). We have added brief footnotes on some of the figures mentioned in the article.
By Victor C. Bellizia
On September 4, 2021, the historic communist militant Waldir Tavares died. At 91, comrade Waldir was surprised by a stroke that limited his activity, which he always resisted with proletarian determination.
Born in Macaé, North Fluminense, on April 18 as the son of a railway worker and peasant, Waldir studied at the Liceu Operário [Workers School, –Ed.] attached to the train workshops of that city. As he himself had said, “people were leaving the school going straight to the workshop, they ate there, they faced precarious work situations, they left there with tuberculous.”
Working as a brakeman, in November 1951, Waldir met militant communist Aristóteles de Miranda, starting his militant training. In his words, “I only learned Marxism with time and militancy.” A year later, he participated in his first clandestine meeting, and was granted membership into the Communist Party of Brazil [PCB, Partido Comunista do Brasil].
A fervent anti-revisionist, Waldir took the position of the proletariat in several fights for the party’s defense. He fought in the 1950s, in the settlement attempt carried out by Agildo Barata.1 In 1958, while in personal contact with Maurício Grabois,2 he participated in the fight against the “Declaration of March” of that year, with which the revisionists sought to impose a right-wing “peaceful transition” like Khruschov revisionism which assaulted the proletariat the USSR. He signed, along with other outstanding communist cadres, the famous “Letter of 100” against the revisionist leadership of Prestes;3 in the letter he defended, in his words: “the armed struggle as a way for the liberation of our people.” He participated in the party’s reconstruction of 1962, now under the acronym PcdoB [Partido Comunista de Brasil, –Ed.], a process influenced by Mao Zedong Thought. Still, in his words, it was when was reading President Mao Zedong that he realized that revisionism “really is a great danger that must be harshly combated. We defend the revolutionary line, we strengthen in this fight, and strengthen the party.”
In June 1964, Waldir was arrested; he was judged and sentenced in 1967, during which the military judge made a point in stressing: “This one is from the Chinese line.” In prison, he suffered psychological torture, but did not remain silent. With the same firmness with which he had faced reaction, he continued to confront revisionism: in 1990, he was expelled from the PCdoB under the leadership of John Amazonas, for raising the fight against him in defense of Marxism.
In his interview with AND, his proletarian optimism and ardent faith in the future of humanity, Communism, shined through. An authentic Marxist-Leninist-Maoist, even though he was older, nothing shook him, not tiredness, nor age. “The struggle is this. You need to have clarity of things and willingness to bear what you do, and always say what should be said, with the right terms. When I think of saying I, I say: We. As they say ‘Agrarian Reform,’ I say: Agrarian Revolution. Brecht speaks ‘you have to progress, but how to progress?’ So, as they say ‘Improve the situation,’ I say: Revolution!”
1. Agildo da Gama Barata Ribeiro advocated for replacing of the PCB with a democratic-bourgeois organization at the PCB’s XX Congress.
2. Maurício Grabois opened the fight against the March Declaration of 1958 which called for ‘peaceful transition’ for an anti-imperialist and anti-feudal revolution.
3. Luís Carlos Prestes was the General-Secretary of the Brazilian Communist Party from 1943 to 1980. He theorized that Brazil was growing to be more democratic peacefully, which was proven totally false during the 1964 coup in Brazil.
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