Brazilians want to keep shooting

In a referendum that was also the world’s crudest electronic vote, people in the country where the most people are shot rejected a gun ban

Brazil will stick to free sale of guns and ammunition. In a referendum Sunday, a clear majority of 64 percent of voters rejected the sales ban. In Latin America’s largest country, where the world’s most people are shot, 122 million eligible voters were called to cast the world’s largest electronic ballot. The result is a major blow to the already beleaguered President Lula.

"Should the trade in arms and ammunition be banned in Brazil??"was the question in Sunday’s referendum. Brazilians rejected the ban on arms trade by a surprisingly large margin. The government has now officially announced the results. It is based on the payoff of 99.64 percent of the votes. According to this, 63.96 percent said "Nao" (No).

Prasiden Lula during the vote. Image: Agenda do presidente da República

In some regions, almost 90 percent voted against the ban. Rio Grande do Sul (border region with Argentina) stands out in particular here. Here, 86.83 (5.353.854 people) voted no. The result was similar in the southern Brazilian port city of Porto Alegre, where 83 percent voted in favor of private gun ownership. In the 41 regions with more than 300,000.In the 41 regions with more than 300,000 voters, only in the northern Brazilian city of Jaboatao dos Guararapes (Pernambuco) did the "Sim" (Yes) vote prevail, with a narrow 51.15 percent.

With the result, the beleaguered President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has lost another battle, since he personally had led the project of the Viva Rio initiative. Various non-governmental organizations and the church have long called for the ban.

Lula had already put the ban into effect in 2003. Article 35 is part of the disarmament statute. Its application, however, still depended on the outcome of the referendum. Since Lula’s election victory, the government has been trying to disarm the population. Since the beginning of the campaign, nearly 500.000 weapons have been collected. For the first time in 13 years, about 36.100 officially registered deaths, the government had praised its successes to date. However, instead of proceeding with disarmament, the article that had restricted the purchase of weapons to armed forces, police, private security forces, hunters, gun collectors and sport shooters must now be removed from the law.

Confidence in the security forces is low

Thus, the lively shooting continues on the streets of Brazil, where an average of almost 40,000 people a year fall victim to firearms.000 people are killed by firearms every year. According to the UN, more than half a million people have been killed by weapons in the past 25 years. The majority, however, do not fall victim to violent crime, but to accidents and simple disputes. Proportionally to the population, only in Venezuela are more people killed by firearms. In both cases, more people die from firearms than from cancer or traffic accidents. According to official figures, Brazil still has 17.5 million firearms distributed throughout the country. Nine million of them are not registered. The number of unreported cases may be even higher. In August, prior to the referendum, almost 13,000 people had.000 people had equipped themselves with a weapon. That was three times as many as in February.

The reasons for the gross rejection are complex. On the one hand, there was the powerful gun lobby. They also claimed that more than 83,000.000 jobs were at risk. On the other hand, many people feel helpless against the violence of armed criminals. No one believes that they will give up their weapons voluntarily. In surveys, 59 percent of citizens said the ban would make them helpless victims. Because confidence in the security forces in general is low. They are seen as inefficient and corrupt.

But that’s also how many Brazilians view Lula’s government. Communist deputy Jandira Feghali, who supports the ban, agrees with many observers that the voters wanted to teach the government a lesson. Until a few weeks ago, almost 80 percent of the population supported the ban.

A corruption scandal has surrounded the Lula government for months. Scandals involving bribes and slush funds have plunged Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT) into its worst crisis since its founding 25 years ago. Following daily reports of new scandals, even PT members and other supporters of the former union leader mobilized in August for a large-scale demonstration against Lula in the capital Brasilia. In May, 13.In May, 13,000 farm workers from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) made their way to the capital.

Bribery, black accounts and shell companies have shown many that the PT is in danger of becoming part of the corrupt upper class. In January 2003, under Lula, she had begun to fight against such conditions. In addition to the PT, the Party for Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) has established a left-wing split, and more and more social organizations are mobilizing against Lula. They accuse him of not having kept his promises, such as land reform. They call for a "change in economic policy," which they label as neoliberal.

What was astonishing about the referendum was that it was the largest electronic vote in the world to date. In addition to compulsory voting for those 18 and older, 16- and 17-year-olds were also allowed to vote by pressing a button. It is only thanks to the fact of electronic voting that the votes could be cast so quickly in this huge country. The payout could be followed live on an Internet portal starting at 8 p.m. local time. The 240 million reais (about 92 million euros) that the referendum cost the government should have spent on security forces, many say. Then maybe the ban would have been approved, they add.

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