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Brazzil - Politics - August 2004

Brazil Gets a Hint from Venezuela

Brazilian legislators want to introduce a Venezuela-style referendum
into the Brazilian electoral legislation. The idea was brought back
to Brazil by two House Representatives who went to Venezuela as
part of a delegation of international observers during the popular
referendum that decided to keep current President Chávez in office.

Ellis Regina


Picture Brazil's congressional delegation that acted as international observers of the plebiscite in Venezuela returned to Brazil with the idea of including the mechanism of popular referendum in Brazilian law.

A popular vote was held August 15 in Venezuela to decide whether President Hugo Chávez should remain in office.

For Federal Deputy Maninha, from the Workers' Party, who was a member of the delegation, Venezuela is giving an example of democracy to the world and to Brazil, which could add this form of participatory democracy to the Federal Constitution. "This is an efficient instrument of social control that preserves the Democratic State," Maninha observed.

Federal Deputy João Alfredo, also from the PT, and who was also a member of the delegation, suggests that next year the Brazilian National Congress should consider including the referendum in Brazilian law as part of the political reform that is being analyzed in the Chamber.

"With the political reform, we shall have the opportunity to consecrate this form of participatory democracy," he emphasized.

According to Deputy Maninha, the opposition claim that the electoral process was marked by fraud is at odds with the calm atmosphere in the streets. According to Maninha, "there isn't the slightest chance that there was fraud in the voting process."

The results indicate that 58.25 percent of the Venezuelan population backs President Hugo Chávez, versus 41.74 percent that opposes him. The observers' delegation visited at least six large polling centers and, according to Deputy João Alfredo, verified that the voting system utilized is "absolutely secure."

The Best for Bolivia

Recently, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva urged Bolivia to take the path to democracy, calling it the best instrument for economic and political recovery.

Last October, Bolivia went through a political crisis which resulted in the resignation of president Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada as a popular uprising raged throughout the country.

During a speech at a ceremony celebrating the signing of agreements with Bolivia, Lula declared that the decision by President Carlos Mesa (who substituted Sanchez de Lozada) to hold a referendum on the country's energy policy and municipal elections in December "will make it possible for Bolivia to discover what its population wants."

Lula went on to say that, "At this moment, when Bolivia gathers strength, it can count on the friendship of the government and people of Brazil. That is the message we sent Bolivia last year during its crisis, and that is the message we send now. That friendship also underlies these agreements we sign today."

Lula concluded by saying that Latin America needs a "Bolivia that is democratic, prosperous and united... a country based on the dreams of Bolivar who wanted borders to bring people together, not separate them," said the Brazilian President.

Carlos Mesa endorsed those words, saying that democracy was the only mechanism that would enable Bolivia to get back on track. "We want democracy to be the crucial issue in our future," he declared, adding that he still intends to convoke a Constitutional Assembly.

Ellis Regina works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.

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