Thursday, October 9, 2014

"BRAZIL: Popular Referendum for a Constituent Assembly Obtains Almost 8 Million Votes"

Article published in the newspaper O Trabalho (9th of October, 2014):
The second round of the Presidential election in Brazil is gong to be close. It will oppose the current president, Dilma Roussef, candidate of the Workers Party (PT) who topped the first round, to Aecio Neves, centre-right candidate of the PSDB (of ex President Fernando Henrique Cardoso), who has rallied the support of the Green Evangelist candidate Marina Silva.
O Trabalho, newspaper of the O Trabalho current of the PT, takes stock of the popular referendum for the Constituent Assembly, the battle for which marked significantly the first round campaign.
Exactly 7,754,836 workers, activists and young people took part in the popular plebiscite for the Constituent Assembly organised between the 1st and the 7th of September, and 91% voted in favour of this.
Such a truly historic result was announced during a press conference the 24th September at the headquarters of the Sao Paulo union of journalists. It was achieved thanks to the mobilisation of tens of thousands of activists from popular movements, from trade unions, from political parties, supported by organisations that joined the popular committees in order to engage in this battle.
On this occasion the President of the Unified Confederation of Workers (CUT), Vagner Freitas, recalled that in Brazil only the Congress (House of Commons) can convene an official referendum, through a legislative decree that members of Parliament who have supported the campaign, are now drafting.
"The only way to advance this proposal is to bring pressure to bear within Congress and without, especially on the streets”, he concluded.
Paulo Estrada, member of the “Popular Consultation” (a regroupment driven by different popular organisations, especially the Movement of Landless Workers -MST) has denounced “the silence of the media (that) was deafening, in spite of lots of street demonstrations and social network interventions. This shows that these media are not as democratic as all that. That is why our banner is for deepening Brazilian democracy.”
Joao Paulo Rodrigues, from the MST, explained that “even if a few names are changed, the Congress of the next legislature will still remain under the control of eight or ten companies that set up their parliamentary groups according to their interests.”
Answering the questions of journalists and bloggers present, Julio Turra (CUT) explained that in this campaign unity was achieved on the position “that with the Congress as it is, it is impossible to make a political reform. How do you make an agrarian reform with 160 landowners sitting in this Congress? When will a forty hour week be adopted when you have 270 bosses sitting in this Congress?”
The results of the referendum for the Constituent Assembly will be handed to President Dilma Rousseff, in Congress and at the Supreme Federal Tribunal, on the 14th and 15th October in Brasilia.
The fifth national plenary assembly of the campaign will be held on these dates. The Referendum Operational Secretariat for the Constituent Assembly has met to lay down the details of the activities that will take place at the same time in Brasilia, for which delegations from all the States in the country are expected (remember Brazil is a federal Republic).

"Popular Referendum: A Massive “Yes” for a Sovereign Constituent Assembly", 
published 2014-09-19 by the "ILC International Newsletter", New Series N. 192 (561):
The newsletter from the O Trabalho current of the Brazilian PT (the Workers Party of Brazil) published the day after the popular referendum for a sovereign Constituent Assembly, draws a first assessment of this event, which saw several million workers, farmers, peasants and young people vote massively throughout Brazil in favour of convening a Constituent Assembly (extracts).
“The millions of votes cast “yes” in favour of the convening of an “exclusive and sovereign Constituent Assembly of the political system” (in Brazil, the sovereign Constituent Assembly can only concern the political system – translator’s note) that were collected by thousands and thousands of volunteer activists, organised in hundreds of committees and backed by the major organisations (the Unified Workers Central – the CUT, the Landless Workers Movement – the MST, and the Workers Party – the PT), sweeping along countless popular and democratic organisations across the country against the boycott by the reaction, the media and stupid leftism, undoubtedly mark a historical moment.
“In a difficult global situation, while peoples everywhere are facing up to an offensive by the imperialist system in crisis – in which the revolutionary resistance of Palestine occupies a central place – the tireless combat for national and popular sovereignty is being expressed in the conditions of the class struggle in Brazil.
“These millions of votes, with significant participation of the young, have revived the street demonstrations of June 2013. They show that a further step has been taken in terms of political maturing – just a few months before the 2014 elections – in the revolutionary seeking of a way out for the popular masses.
“The millions of votes by the young, the workers of the town and the country, the mothers and homemakers, the artists and intellectuals have shown the way to the road at the end of which can be obtained the fundamental reforms that have been obstructed for over twelve years in the current national parliament (the Upper and the Lower Houses): land reform, the renationalisation of public services, and many others. And, especially, these millions and millions are now waiting for Dilma (the current president of the Republic, and the PT candidate for re-election) – who has declared that she is not pronouncing herself as president in favour of the popular referendum, but that as a citizen she is – to not hesitate in accepting the result of the referendum and to lead the fight for the Constituent Assembly!”
Thus, an audience has been requested with the president, as well as with the two other republican bodies of power (the Congress and the Senate).
“We will not frustrate the will of millions of workers, activists and the young, just as we will not allow this will to confiscated by opportunists”, said O Trabalho.
“Many things are at stake in this election for the president of the Republic and for the two Houses that is to take place next October. We are going into an intense quarter-year of political debate. In the end, it is the future that is at stake.
“The crisis of the regime that is now open also holds danger. The trap of the Marina candidacy which unites, amongst others, from the Military Club to Greenpeace and including the Itau Bank and a good part of the media, constitutes the genuine threat of the generalising of precarious work and the repeal of the law for the annual increase in minimum wages (…); the transformation of the Central Bank into an “independent” bank (i.e., very dependent on the markets), the abandoning of the Pré-Sal (the oil reserve in the ocean) to the major private international companies, and the privatisation of the public banks. These are the demands of international capital that must be fought against, by the lowering of interests, by the controlling of exchange rates and the end to the fiscal supravit (the primary fiscal surplus that insists on the paying of the foreign debt before the budgeting of public funds – translator’s note), in order to defend national production and to re-industrialise the country, to free it from financial speculation and from the looting by the multi-nationals.
“With the candidates that it is standing, the O Trabalho current of the Workers Party is calling to amplify the mobilisation in the trade unions in order to defend “a 100% public Pré-Sal in the framework of a national company (Petrobas); for public funds to be used uniquely for education and public healthcare; for an end to the fiscal supravit, to put an end to the “protection factor” and for the 40-hour work week without a reduction in wages”.
Here are, it has said, several of the reasons for fighting for a Constituent Assembly for political reform that will give a voice to the people.

The Call from O Trabalho -
“This is what a ‘new policy’ is, contrary to the counter-reform proposed by Marina (…) More than every, victory is possible; it won’t be easy but the fight is before us”, O Trabalho declared, a few weeks before the elections that the talking-heads and the media are more and more predicting as lost for the PT candidate.
Next 29 and 30 November, the national meeting of the PT internal group “Dialogue and PT-ist Action” – which regroups militants from different walks within the PT – will be held This is the group that, along with thousands of young people and workers, ran the campaign for the referendum.
O Trabalho has launched a call to all workers, militants and the young: “You have candidates to vote for on October 5th! The fight goes on! Join us in the fight over the coming weeks: no energy must be wasted!”
For the Constituent Assembly, vote Dilma! Vote for the PT candidates who are engaged in the campaign for the popular referendum for the Constituent Assembly!

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