The farce of the referendum
Statement by the Brazilian anarchist organization, FAG, on the forthcoming arms referendum in Brazil.
The farce of the referendum
No-one more so than anarchists defends democratic forms of political participation. Those where the people participate directly in the decisions. Considering the current situation and the correlation of forces imposed in society, it could be said that a referendum accomplishes the role of giving a voice to popular opinion. However, this prohibitionist referendum, launched at this particular moment of political crisis by the central government, is more of a farce, a decoy.
At present, there are two ongoing Parliamentary Investigating Commission enquiries, the accusations of corruption within the Lula government still echo throughout Brazilian society. This administration has never been under such strong pressure and Lula's popularity ratings are dropping. In effect, it is the perfect time to draw attention away from Brasilia [the administrative capital of Brazil - trans.]. And (why not?) make some positive propaganda by having a referendum and giving the impression of making democracy, "consulting" the people.
So exactly what problem are they trying to solve with this referendum? The answer is unanimous, both for the "Yes" camp and for the "No": public safety. But in order to achieve a solution to the problem, is this the right question to be asking? "Do you agree or not with the commercialization of firearms in Brazil?". This question does not seem to take into consideration the uncomforting situation we have in our country - one of the most unequal in the world. Here, there are 1,162,164 families with an income of over R$22,487 a month, the equivalent to 2.4% of the population. On the other hand, we have 20 million families with an income of under R$520 per month, or 48% of the population. In Brazilian universities, we find only 7.4% of young people aged between 18 and 24. In this country, 27 million workers do not have any social insurance or are covered by any labour law (data from "Carta Capital" magazine, 21 September 2005, No.360), and are left to take their chances in the world of casual labour. With social conditions so brutally unequal, it is easy to identify the causes of violence in Brazil.
Now, returning to the question of the referendum, does it manage to solve the problem of violence? The question being asked should be another, one that takes into consideration the situation as outlined above. R$500 million of public funds will be spent on financing this farce of democracy, money that could be used to revert the numbers of our social inequality.
Several measures of greater importance have been undertaken by the central government without consulting the population:
- the approval of welfare reform
- payment of the foreign debt
- the conservation of the budget surplus above that demanded by the IMF
- the sending of troops to Haiti, the FTAA negotiations,
- more recently, the Rio Sao Francisco water transfer scheme, which will have enormous consequences for the north-east of Brazil,
- the raising of the minimum wage well below levels of inflation, and certainly not enough to maintain a worker for 30 days as is required by the bourgeois Constitution.
We were not consulted in the making of these decisions. Our opinion was not necessary for these. Now, in order to pass itslef off as democratic, the Lula government is calling us to have our say on a subject that has little or nothing to do with the problem that they claim to be seeking a solution to.
By reason of all this, we say that this referendum is a farce. Yes, we want to have a voice. But we are not stupid - the government does not want our real participation. Otherwise, it would not have posed such a useless question. Our participation will be won on the streets, on each march, on each barricade, on each strike and occupation, on each shack that is won and each community radio that goes on air.
Our participation will be won through struggle.
Federação Anarquista Gaúcha - FAG
Translation by FdCA-International Relations