[10/18/05] MST Informa #101 Outlaw Arms Sales to Transform Society
Dear friends of the MST,
On October 23, Brazilian society will be called upon to decide if we should outlaw arms sales. The MST and the social movements that belong to Via Campesina Brasil said a long time ago that we are definitely in favor of outlawing sales of arms and weapons.
We decided this unanimously without any doubts and we made a great effort to convince the greatest number of people about the need to do this.
Brazilian society faces many social and economic problems. We have the problem of social marginalization, which results in many crimes. We have the problem of organized crime, with groups, gangs, narco-traffickers, and weapons and drug smugglers. In general, all have ties to the ruling classes with their huge well-guarded fortunes and advantages in the national and international financial system. These problems are very serious and only huge transformations in the social, political, and economic structures will be able to combat poverty, inequality and impunity of these joint groups with their ties to systems of power and of the state. The referendum does not deal with the two problems of social marginality and of criminality.
The roots of the referendum
But the referendum, by outlawing the sale of guns to ordinary people, can help to resolve the problem of 40 thousand deaths that happen in our society every year. In around 85% of the cases the victims know the agressors. The majority are young and poor. There are also many cases of agression against spouses and girlfriends, also many accidents.
The outlawing of gun sales will dramatically reduce this type of problem. To outlaw the sale of guns is a civilized attitude, to save lives. It’s a question of establishing less aggressive means to resolve social problems.
It’s very symptomatic that spokesmen and defenders of arms sales are primarily the manufacturers who think only about profits. Besides them are the so-called “bullet bench‿, those violent lawmakers tied to the UDR, the ruralist wing, and the ultra-right.
Very symptomatic that all the fascists, the UDR, and the TFP heartily defend weapons. Why? Because they start with a conception of the world in which they, the property owners, the bourgeoisie, the ruling class, have the right to defend their patrimony with arms. They have the right to decide on life, including the life of some poor robber. This goes back to the Middle Ages. It is up to the state, to judiciary, and to laws to defend the lives of citizens. To say that each one needs to defend himself is to return to primitive law.
Very symptomatic that the most right-wing columnists, Mr. Rosenfield, the lying Veja magazine, and some right-wing military people from Rio de Janeiro, responsible for 20 years of military dictatorship, have published their defense of arms sales.
They have no interest in discussing how to save lives, how to get out of poverty and social inequality. They reduce the problems of society to the right to defend their patrimony, their privileges, their material goods. And what’s worse: according to police specialists, having a gun at home does not provide security. On the contrary, it’s a risk to one’s own life, since the bandits are always better prepared to use arms.
For this reason the MST and the churches, social movements, and progressive forces from our society struggle for the prohibition of gun sales. And we call on all to participate in the campaign and help to get a YES vote next Sunday.
On the other hand, we are sorry that this important tool that is the referendum has been so poorly used in this campaign. The spirit of the referendum is to provoke discussion and the participation of everyone. Unfortunately we have seen the use of marketing, which transformed the discussion about such a fundamental topic into simply an advertising campaign on TV. But in every political struggle, there is something to learn and we hope that this referendum helps the people to find out that they have the true power of decision making and that they cannot and must not transfer to others the power to decide the destiny of the burning issues of our society.
National Secretariat of the MST
Conference marks exchange of experiences about Latin American reality
From October 13 to 17, participants including MST and Via Campesina activists, students and researchers, discussed the directions for the social movements and leftist thought at the International Conference on Thought and Social Movements in Latin America and the Caribbean: Imperialism and Resistance. The meeting was held at the Fluminense Federal University in Niteroi, RJ, and theoreticians such as Che Guevara, José Martí, Sandino, José Carlos Mariátegui, Florestan Fernandes and Rui Mauro Marini were presented and discussed with the objective of motivating more study of their work.
Brazilians do not consume meat
In the first half of this year, the Tribunal of Accounts of the Union held a hearing on the National Program for Eradication of Hoof and Mouth Disease (PNEFA) and pointed out the risk of a rise in the number of sicknesses in Mato Grosso do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, and Bahia. According to the report, by June 2 the Ministry of Agriculture had spent only .41% of the total destined to PNEFA in the 2005 budget. This investment could have avoided the blockage of exports of Brazilian meat. 180 million cattle are affected. At the same time, our country has 170 million people and very few consume meat on a daily basis. At this moment of crisis, it is obvious that we are dependent on the external market, with the alternative being that the people begin to eat more meat instead of sending all the production outside the country.