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Brazilian socialists remember Socrates
The last day of the PSoL left party's congress in São Paulo was dedicated to the memory of the great Brazilian footballer Socrates, who died from liver disease on the same day.
The PSoL congress displayed a rare moment of unity as delegates and visitors remembered Socrates' life, not just as a brilliant football player but also as a champion for the rights of the working class and the downtrodden of Brazil.
And the downtrodden of São Paulo and the rest of Brazil desperately need such fighters. On the same day as he died his old São Paulo club, Corinthians, won the Brazilian league title to the delight of at least half of the city's football fans.
However, after the close of Congress, as delegates walked through the city's skyscrapers to the noise of the fireworks celebrations you see a darker side of São Paulo.
On almost every side street, hundreds of street people were setting up their cardboard beds for the night among the day's rubbish piles and the rats that infest them.
The old, the young, men and women who despite their miserable existence pose little threat to passers-by, are treated as human garbage. Their sunken eyes tell you they have given up all hope of ever having a decent life.
Brazilian capitalism wants to show the world a different image so by the light of day the streets are cleaned up to show a city that is more presentable for a country that will be hosting the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016.
The cash and the corruption that follows such projects are plentiful yet its downtrodden street people are treated worse than British animals!
Socrates was unique among the great Brazilian footballers because he had a genuine social conscience and a lifelong commitment to improve the conditions of the Brazilian working class.
It was possible for Socrates to have received a liver transplant but he refused to jump the queue, a further indication of the principles he held until he died.
LSR, the Brazilian section of the CWI socialist international, argued forcefully at the PSoL Congress for a socialist programme to eradicate the brutality of capitalism in Brazil and to build a new mass party of socialism. That is the best way to remember such a sporting hero as Socrates.
Alec Thraves, São Paulo
In The Socialist 7 December 2011:
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