On March 6th, we commemorated the 67 th birthday of Sandra Lima. Sandra Lima‘s life was a manifestation of the spirit or creative energy of women to emancipate themselves from the clutches of merciless exploitation. She displayed revolutionary resilience of single-mindedness and creativity at a height almost unparalleled amongst Brazilian women activists of her time. Her life story was one of integrating herself in the very heart and soul of the oppressed masses. Even when treading on the most tortuous paths she unflinchingly, embarked on her struggle for liberation of women. On International Women’s day some days ago, she would have been our mascot, had she been alive. Sandra carves a permanent niche amongst great women revolutionary activists.
Having been a victim from different illnesses throughout her life, Comrade Sandra Lima succumbed to a brain tumour on July 27, 2016. “Comrade Sandra, I wanted you to live a thousand years because we need you. Because the poor masses of our country need you,” one activist said at her wake.
Sandra had outstanding grasp of Marxist Leninist ideology and displayed immaculate skill in devising forms of practice or mass work, in accordance to the situation. From the very depths of despair she could resurrect ignite flame of revolutionary resistance and sharpen the striking capacity of the masses.
It was Comrade Sandra Lima’s ever resilient or unflinching commitment to anti-revisionism and political debate that sowed the seeds for the PWM in Brazil, such as her role in a confrontation against the reformist October 8th Movement in 1995. Through such actions, she was able to extricate women from the futility of electoral politics and towards integrating them in Brazil’s revolutionary movement for Liberation.
Her life story should be inscribed in red letters of gold. It was befitting reply to the merciless exploitation of women engulfing the whole globe, patronised by globalisation. Sandra was living testimony of how in the gravest of times women would not bend and could rise like a phoenix from the Ashes, with even the steepest hurdles not extinguishing their spirit in battling the iron feet of oppression..
Exhibiting selfless spirit in intensity rarely transcended she never let health problems trap her work.. She devoted herself without reservation to the mobilization, politicization, and organization of the masses.
Liveliness, combativeness and optimism was a permanent feature of her life. We need to resurrect her spirit today with imperialism and globalisation wiping out any remnants of democracy n every corner of the globe.
Comrade Sandra Lima invested every ounce of energy of her life to the Brazilian Revolution. For forty years with great consistency, integrated with the masses in proletarian neighbourhoods and factories, in the struggle for housing, in the struggle for land, fusing with the class-conscious workers and union movement.
Political Life story
Born in São Domingos do Prata, in the interior of Minas Gerais, Sandra Lima moved permanently to Belo Horizonte in the 1970s. She attended part of high school at Colégio Estadual Central, an important setting of student resistance to the fascist military regime.
Sandra established her baptism first contact with mass work in 1976, when she started to visit Lindéia, a working-class neighbourhood located on the outskirts of the cities of Belo Horizonte, Ibirité and Contagem. She rapidly integrated herself into the heart of community life, illustrating still in her youth, the relentless spirit that would mark her as a future revolutionary militant. There, she helped organize adult literacy classes and cultural activities for proletarian youth; she actively participated in the construction of the health clinic and in the demonstrations to demand that the city government of Belo Horizonte reduce taxes and make improvements in the transportation and sanitation conditions of the neighborhood. It was while working at Lindéia that Sandra studied the work that would awaken her to fight against the oppression of women, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, by the great leader of the international proletariat, Friedrich Engels.
In the late 1970s, she became a militant in the October 8 Revolutionary Movement, the MR-8. She dedicated herself entirely to the revolution and to confront of the fascist military regime. Fusing with the class-conscious and combative workers’ movement, which had already led the strike at the steelmaker Mannesmann, she contributed in August 1979, to the confiscation of the streets of the mining capital by approximately 30 thousand striking construction workers.
In the 1980s, she began to intensely track the important paths of the fight against the oppression of women. Sandra encouraged her women comrades to play a vanguard role in the revolutionary struggle. It was with this spirit that she launched herself into construction of the Minas Gerais Federation of Women, created in 1984, when she assumed the presidency.
In March 1995, she joined the group of revolutionary militants who demarcated from national reformism of the MR-8 and, from then on, Sandra fully gave her lie to the daunting and collective task of binding together the meandering paths of the Brazilian Revolution. .
After the Battle of Santa Elina, in the municipality of Corumbiara, Rondônia, the vital work of solidarity with the occupation was under the supervision of Sandra Lima, who was also in charge of providing the medical support network to the encamped families.
In 1999, she worked intensively in the support and organization of the proletarian women of Vila Bandeira Vermelha, in the city of Betim, in Minas Gerais. She lived and fought alongside families. On April 26 of that year, during the brutal attack unleashed on the Vila by the forces of repression, enlisted by the then mayor of the city, Jésus Lima (PT), women played an outstanding role.
A leader of the Popular Women’s Movement (Movimento Feminino Popular – MFP), an organization founded in 2000, Sandra Lima was one of the main architects of the line of the Brazilian women’s revolutionary movement. She pioneered and crystallised this detachment of women who were more politically conscious, more militant, and more thirsty to eradicate the age-old oppression that has victimised them.
She guided numerous acts in celebration of the International Working Women’s Day; she propelled n combative strikes; she relentlessly denounced the farcical character of the reactionary elections. She participated in peasant congresses and student assemblies, always stressing on the importance of training women as activists and, above all, as leading cadres who sparkle the ideology of the proletariat to turn the country and the world upside down.
An admirer of literature and art created by the people, she motivated young people to read the classics of Marxism and, on certain occasions, listened and sang revolutionary and popular songs with companions and friends. With the sharpness of a knife, she confronted exploiter classes, garnering he people to fight and to rise up against all oppression.
A revolutionary mother, she persuaded her children to understand, participate and support, without reservation, the struggles of the masses in the country and around the world.
An internationalist activist, she left no stone unturned in acting in defence of the Palestinian people, of the heroic resistance of the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan, in defence of the people’s wars in Peru, India, the Philippines and Turkey. She raised her powerful voice for the national liberation struggles of the peoples against imperialism and against the imperialist war.
She led the campaign nationally for the punishment of criminals, commanders, and perpetrators of tortures, murders and forced disappearances of the fascist military regime. MFP, under her leadership, staged memorable protests in repudiation of the 1964 coup.
In the days of 2013 and 2014, when the youth militants waved banner of resistance against the exploitative system and, in particular, against the festival carried out by FIFA, the blazing flag of the MFP was always present in the front rows. Sandra Lima’s role is unforgettable in this event, lifting striking capacity of masses to optimum level..
Wholeheartedly she devoted herself to the Popular Women’s Movement engulfing different regions of Brazil especially in the countryside. Always in her interventions she paid attention to the need for the women of our people to engage in a shoulder-to-shoulder struggle with their activists and knit themselves as revolutionary cadres’ champion proletarian ideology.
Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist who has studied national liberation movements.