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(en) The Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU) comments on the ANCAP Referendum

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sun, 7 Dec 2003 07:35:38 +0100 (CET)

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The Referendum against the intent of handing over the national company ANCAP
(National Oil Company) to international companies is the main subject of the
current political scene in Uruguay. We are referring to the popular
plebiscite against the government's law which attempts, in a disguised way,
to privatise the oil refineries.

This is all so common to what happens throughout Latin America and other
places: handing over prosperous companies of a country to international

This is a well-known and repeated event in the framework of the brutal
neoliberal polities with the added pressure of international bodies such as
the I.M.F.

The plebiscite is for next December 7th. The law will hand over the refinery
for thirty years under unusual conditions, without the receiving company
making any investment of importance. The ANCAP itself will only exist on
paper as the law will give the real power to the international company.

In Uruguay, plebiscites have a degree of political importance, as they are
binding. It is worthwhile pointing out that these [plebiscites] can annul
certain decisions of the government. For example our neighbours, Argentina
and Brazil, don't have anything of this type. Some historians, when
referring to the character that plebiscites have in Uruguay, attribute it to
influence of the fights and ideas of the anarchists carried out at the
beginning of the 20th century.

At the beginning, the Frente Amplio [Common Front], a political grouping of
diverse Left-wing Parties, intervened in a Commission together with the
traditional Parties to draw up this law that they are now trying to reject.
The Trade Union of ANCAP took a stance against this law, and was immediately
supported by the labour Convention and almost all the social movements. When
the subject started receiving strong popular support, the Frente Amplio, in
its great majority, took side with those who wanted to annul the law and in
favour of the plebiscite.

>From the beginning, the FAU was against this handing over [of the ANCAP] to
the international companies and for a popular campaign in favour of a
plebiscite. Our militancy in syndical unions, in neighborhood movements, in
our own "ateneos" and community-run radios joined forces to this effect. To
where it was us possible, within this campaign, and together with other
forces, we have shown a different point of view. We do not agree at all with
the proposal of the Frente Amplio to make a new law to associate [the ANCAP]
with a international company once the law is repealed.

At this point, the surveys give an average of 48% of adhesion to the
plebiscite. Around 20% are undecided. At least 50% plus one is needed for
the plebiscite to win and thus annul the law. The climate continues to grow
favourable to the plebiscite, and it is not venturous to say at this time
that the plebiscite will have from 52% to 55% of popular support. Of course
the adhesion of people to the plebiscite is not only against the so-called
"law of association". This is a law that a great part of the population does
not know in detail. [The support of the plebiscite] comes from the existent
dissatisfaction with the socio-economic policies that have recently sunk
vast popular sectors, even of "lower middle class" into poverty. A situation
that is getting worse year after year. This is nothing special, it is what
has been happening all over Latin America.

The following is an article published in our Magazine Lucha Libertaria
[Libertarian Struggle] on the subject:


The ANCAP Referendum and the small variants of a single argument.


A few days away from the consultation on the ANCAP, it has been quite clear
the very little difference that there is amongst those in favour of
maintaining the law and those who want to repeal it. From the declarations
of Vázquez saying that ANCAP was not going to be sold until now; the main
figures of the EP have become sincere with regards the future of the ANCAP
(and by extension all national companies). Except for the Left-wing (an
ever-dwindling sector), everyone supports the premise that if the ANCAP
doesn't associate with somebody, it won't be able to survive. That when the
Mercosur [South American Common Market] frees the entire energy sector (a
point that is not written or signed anywhere) the ANCAP will be in absolute
inferiority of conditions with regards the other regional oil companies. The
Left, hoping to govern in 2005, has assumed all the premises of a capitalist
system that it tries to sweeten instead of combating. It is clear that by
using the premises of the system we will meet a closed door. There will
never be room to manoeuvre. Just barely enough to maintain in people the
illusion that changes in government can really change something.

To find the roads that serve the people, we must not start from the premises
of the system, it is necessary to overcome these premises, to destroy them
in our arguments and practice. That was always the meaning of "being of the

In the previous issue of Lucha Libertaria [the magazine of the FAU]. we
analysed the double-speech of the official Left with regards to the
privatisations, the use and abuse of the ideological fantasy of the
"national patrimony", the rôle of the ANCAP in a scenario of a "progressive
Mercosur" and our posture with regards to the ownershipe and the management
of national companies (See Lucha Libertaria number 13 - September/2003 -
pages 8-10). It is necessary to add to this that the most recent
declarations of Vázquez about the possibility of agreeing with the
government, before the 2004 elections, of a new law over the association of
the ANCAP; thus threatening to make useless a victory of the Yes! vote on
December 7. The current law would be repealed, but immediately they would
begin to elaborate a new one where presumably the Frente Amplio would impose
their own ideas thanks to the victory of the Yes! vote which they will
present as their own victory. This is coherent with what the Left has been
doing over the last fifteen years. The real problem for the Frente Amplio is
who will govern, what type of regulation will be applied and, above all,
WHICH PARTNERSHIP is necessary for ANCAP and all the other national
companies. That is the real disagreement amongst the actors of the political

The employees of ANCAP and the rest of the working class, the vast
majorities that depend on State support for education, health, housing and
social welfare; foresee the danger that the enormous effort deployed to
eliminate this law will be betrayed by the politicians. The false Left has
their own form of handing over the management and half of the earnings of
public companies to the big international companies, be they State-owned or
private. The referendum, if won, can strengthen the popular forces, giving
rise once again to many hopes and strengthening the desire to struggle, but
we cannot forget that a popular consultation doesn't stop being in itself an
element of the legality of the system that can be disabled by yet another
element of the legality of the system, such as, for example, a new and very
similar law. We must defend a Yes! victory with the historical methods of
the people, and also oppose the anti-people's negative results of a No!

For those from below, the only sure conquests are always those that are
obtained and defended by the people in the street, mobilized and organized.
We support the Yes! vote as an expression of rejecting the government [which
is a] pimp of imperialism and to annul the law that will hand over the ANCAP
to international capitalism.


Federación Anarquista Uruguaya (FAU)
Translation Red Libertaria Apoyo Mutuo

From: Chris R <christopher-A-nodo50.org>

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