Cesare Battisti, Former Guerrilla, Detained as Part of Brazil's Red Purge

Published January 15, 2019

Cesare Battisti, Former Guerrilla, Detained as Part of Brazil's Red Purge

Cesare Battisti, former member of the Italian revolutionary organization Armed Proletarians for Communism (PAC), has been arrested in Bolivia and is in Italian custody.

Battisti was arrested by a team of Interpol agents, predominately composed of Italian investigators, and encouraged by the far right regime of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro.

He was captured by Bolivian and Italian officers in Santa Cruz de La Sierra, where he was located by intelligence agents after using one of his mobile devices, according to the Italian state.

Battisti escaped from an Italian prison camp in 1981 while awaiting trial on four unjust counts of murder allegedly committed when he was a member of the Armed Proletarians for Communism. He was convicted in absentia in 1990 and faces a life term.

He acknowledged membership in the group but denied killing anyone, is in actuality a political prisoner, and one of the first victims of Bolsonaro’s politicized, fascist police state.

After initially escaping to Mexico, he then went to France, where he joined revolutionary Italian militants who enjoyed a degree of freedom.

Like Battisti, they fled Italy at the closing of the nation’s “years of lead,” a bloody and turbulent era during the 1970s when revolutionary struggle was heightened and possibilities became prominent in Italy.

After political winds shifted in France, Battisti traveled to Brazil in 2004 to avoid being extradited. He was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, prompting the Italian government to request that he be handed over. But then Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva granted him asylum in 2010.

Bolsonaro, making friendly moves towards right-wing governments around the world, told Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini that Battisti is a “gift” to them. The Bolivian state is also complicit in the detention, permitting Interpol agents and fascist Brazilian forces to operate in the country.

Armed Proletarians for Communism was an autonomous armed struggle revolutionary organization that had a horizontal structure. Founded in 1976, the group carried out several daring actions and pushed Italy in an egalitarian direction during an important, conflictual period.

Revolutionary organizations around the around the world should take notice of this detention.