BRAZIL: Militant Activist Extradited to Italy in Anti-Communist Crackdown

By Mike Talavera

Former Italian militant Cesare Battisti was apprehended in Bolivia after fleeing Brazil on January 12 and was promptly extradited to his home country to serve a life sentence mandated by an Italian court in 1995.

Former Brazilian President and revisionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had refused to extradite Battisti, who had entered the country sometime in 2002. After the Brazilian courts went back and forth on the issue, da Silva’s successor President Michel Temer ordered Battisti’s extradition in December of last year, shortly before leaving office.

Newly elected fascist President Jair Bolsonaro enthusiastically carried out Temer’s plans this month as part of his greater anti-communist campaign. While running for president last October, Bolsonaro promised to purge the country of Communists and leftists. “These red outlaws will be banished from our homeland,” he said in a videolink address. “It will be a cleanup the likes of which has never been seen in Brazilian history.”

Battisti had been a member of Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC), a collective that was part of the larger anarchist Autonamia Operaia movement of the 1970s. The group carried out 60 armed robberies or more and claimed responsibility for the murders of a an Italian prison guard, a jeweler, a neo-fascist, and a law enforcement officer.

PAC’s activity took place during a tumultuous period in Italy’s history known as the Years of Lead, which immediately followed France’s May 1968 rebellion.

Battisti had originally been arrested and jailed in Italy in 1979, thanks to information provided by snitches in PAC. While snitches and informants are a threat to any revolutionary organization, the horizontal leadership structure embraced by PAC did not effectively cultivate the discipline and political line necessary to combat this threat (see Incendiary‘s report on the Central Texas Socialist Rifle Association for a contemporary example of this security failure).

cesare-battisti-1981

Other PAC members helped Battisti escape in 1981, and he has been on the run ever since. Through a legal mechanism known as “in absentia,” Italian courts have made use of more PAC snitches to try Battisti for other crimes while he was out of the country, racking up his convictions to the point where he now has a life sentence.

Incendiary echoes the international call that to make revolution is not a crime and that it is right to rebel! The inevitable risks of anarchist organizing should be heeded by all, but anti-communism must be fought wherever it rears its ugly head.

Battisti’s extradition is a sign of things to come in Bolsonaro’s regime. Earlier this month, his administration dismissed 300 public service contractors based on their left-leaning politics. In São Paulo last week, over a thousand people protested against increased prices for public transportation but were met with the rubber bullets and tear gas of the Military Police.

Incendiary salutes the revolutionaries and the masses of Brazil in their struggle against semi-feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism, and imperialism as well as in their struggle against fascism and anti-communism. These threats will not fall unless they are hit!