Our farewell to Cilinha

Written by IWL-FI International Secretariat
Thursday, 24 September 2015 04:16
This morning [9/24/15] we lost Comrade Cecilia Toledo, our dear Cilinha, as she is called in Brazil and throughout the IWL-FI. Cilinha was a cadre that devoted her life to building the revolutionary party and the International on a tireless activism. After years of fight against cancer, finally she could not resist. But even when the disease affected her, she did not stop working hard on her revolutionary activity.
Her revolutionary and internationalist militant activity began in Brazil at the time of the Workers League (Liga Operária) during the military dictatorship in the 70’s. She had an important role in the organization of artists, who had a prominent part in the struggle against the military regime, and in recovery their trade union. She was part of activism that swept away the trade union bureaucracy as part of a process that revolutionized the Brazilian labor movement and trade unions.
She was a member of the Socialist Convergence (CS) since its foundation and participated of its fight in the PT (Workers Party) against Lula’s bureaucracy. That struggle gave rise to the PSTU.
But her militancy was not only in Brazil. She has been always a convicted Trotskyist and therefore an internationalist militant. Therefore, already in the 80s, she went to live and to work in the Argentine MAS (Movement for Socialism), in a working class neighborhood at Matanza city.
Cilinha was an excellent journalist; she used to be linked to the development of political materials and to the propaganda of Marxism. She was for years a member of the core team responsible for the newspaper of the Brazilian party, from the CS to the PSTU. In the IWL, her role was decisive for the elaboration and issuing of Marxism Alive in the years 2000-2015 and the magazine Correo Internacional (International Courier). And many of her articles were the most read on the IWL-FI site.
But Cilinha became known by the Party membership and even beyond our ranks for her theoretical, programmatic and political work on the oppression of women. She was a member of the PSTU Women Bureau and of the International Secretariat for Women in the IWL. She organized classical publications, training and seminars on Women. She studied and reported the unique experience of the Russian Revolution on the women’s issue. But her outstanding programmatic contribution is her book O Gênero nos une, a classe nos divide (Gender unites, the social class divides us). This is a reference book for defending a Marxist and working class position against the concepts of ‘gender feminism’. So much so that it was published in several languages ​​for over more than a decade. She traveled to several countries lecturing and participating in debates, whether in Latin America, whether in Europe or Africa. Besides, she published a series of articles on the oppression of women in magazines, newspapers and web sites.
Her other passion was art, particularly theater. She worked in the theater as an actress, director and writer. Since her youth, she had been involved in theater and Brazilian avant guard performance groups. In recent years she devoted herself to assemble groups with amateur actors to present their work in homeless occupations such as Esperança in São Paulo, Brazil, or in factories as the Felfort in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Or in working class regions as in southern São Paulo. Her groups followed the Berthold Brecht School, claiming that theater could be a militant weapon to arouse reflection by the exploited and oppressed. Consistent with that, she adapted Brecht’s works in a collective creative work involving actors with whom a political theater was performed, connected with the trade union and popular movements.
Cilinha was also dedicated to studies and theoretical discussions on art, following Trotsky’s approach of ‘complete freedom in art’ and against the deformation and vulgarization of art by Stalinism, the so-called ‘socialist realism’ that it tried to impose on all Russian artists (and all over the world), for which it imposed censorship and repression on art in the USSR.
In the pages of Marxism Alive (IWL-FI theoretical magazine) and in our sites it can be found several essays by Cilinha, as well as debates with artists and intellectuals discussing the Marxist position on art.
Cilinha was one of those revolutionary who followed the words, “nothing that is human is alien to me” and therefore her researches went far beyond the issues mentioned above. Many other issues used to attract her and she was permanently looking for those subjects that were important to Marxist thought and the struggle for communism; for example, she had been studying the phenomenon of religions on which some materials were recently published.
Her presence was an encouragement to all who knew or worked with her to continually fight for the socialist revolution. Her cheerful and restless personality captivated everyone. We will feel her absence tremendously, but we are sure that her life had a meaning. Cilinha left us a lesson, how to devote oneself to building the revolutionary party and the International and contribute in the fight for a socialist world.
We know it is a difficult time for Martin Hernandez, her lifelong partner, and her son Martin Garcia, her sister Cristina and her sister in law and friend Alicia Sagra. We want to send them our condolences, a hug on behalf of the entire IWL-FI membership and to be confident that Cilinha’s example of life and her contributions remain as a legacy that we all are proud of.

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