Recognition, Redistribution and Popular Participation: Towards an Integrative Judicial Policy

“Anti-terrorism law” bill: for whom?

“Anti-terrorism law” bill: for whom?

In the name of creating a “safe environment” for investment, the anti-terrorism law creates mechanisms to repress social movements.

by Guilherme Leite Gonçalves * - publicado 11/11/2015 01h50, last modified 11 / 11 / 2015 06h19

Source: Capital letter

Secom MT (24 / 04 / 2014)
terrorism training

Mato Grosso Police Exercises Against Terrorist Actions at 2014 Cup

The surprise is undone by the reading of the justification, which points to the duty to combat terrorist financing in order to comply with “international agreements signed by Brazil, especially regarding organizations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)”. There are many such commitments that have not become domestic law. Why such attention to the group agreements?

The group is part of the safety net that seeks to intervene in institutional standards that have negative effects on the “integrity” of the financial system. The aim is to respond to possible threats from money laundering and terrorist financing. To this end, the FATF develops recommendations and then monitors the implementation of the measures in its member countries. In the end, it issues assessment reports that classify countries as “compliant”, “partially compliant” and “non-compliant”.

The reward for compliance is the declaration of that environment as safe for business. The “non-cooperative territory” certificate, on the other hand, is a red light for the financial system, discouraging it from trading in that country. The chairman of the Finance Activities Control Board of the Ministry of Finance has expressed concern about Brazil's risk of being blacklisted by the FATF because of the lack of legislation criminalizing terrorist financing.

Broken subway windows like these in SP could lead to up to 24 years in prison

For all this, it is clear the relevance of PL 2016 / 2015 for the Farm and its articulation in an emergency. Other problems, however, have yet to be clarified.

Chief among them is the detonating effect of the FATF group's recommendations to generate legislation that threatens freedom of association and demonstration. The Transnational Institute and Statewatch conducted research on the content of legal reforms triggered by the group's Special Recommendation VIII.

The research shows that it has "approved some of the most restrictive nonprofit regulations in the world and encouraged repressive governments to introduce rules that further reduce the political space for NGOs and civil society actors."

The five countries that received the seal “as recommended” (Belgium, Egypt, Italy, Tunisia and the USA) created security apparatuses that curbed social movements. In the case of Egypt and Tunisia, it was evident that the adoption of the recommendation was one of the reactions to the Arab Spring. The survey included studies from ten countries that have, to some extent, obtained FATF-endorsed legislation. All restricted free manifestation.

The survey also shows that the impact of RE VIII has been negative even in countries where activists have more freedom. In the Brazilian context, marked by the repression of protests, no better effect can be expected.

Reflection in the cities

Since the Barcelona Olympics, this “good governance” has stressed the importance of sporting mega-events to include cities in new global financial flows. The formula is notorious: the creation of an institutional framework capable of generating an alleged stable environment to attract investment and thereby reform urban centers.

race track
Gas pumps and cartridges in Vila Autódromo (Photo: Fernando Frazão / Brazil Agency / 03 / 06 / 2015)

This formula is not exhaustive in itself, but, according to David Harvey, it is one of the means for financial accumulation. Since, to expand, such accumulation needs to commoditize non-commoditized spaces, sporting mega-events require an urban restructuring project of host cities that gives market value to decapitalized areas. Among others, real estate speculation benefits.

Just watch what happens in Rio de Janeiro to realize that this implies expulsion of the poor, appropriation of public areas, elimination of local commerce, etc. The leadership of social movements in protests against public spending on the World Cup and fights against removals - such as Vila Autódromo - show that they are the basis of resistance to the city's commodity march promoted by the Olympic Games.

It has been seen that the social purpose of FATF is to protect the integrity of the financial system. When such integrity is associated with the promotion of mega sporting events, its opposing focus - social movements - becomes a source of business risk.

There is no need to make legal clarifications about the openness of criminal types (“practicing or infusing terror and panic”) or assets protected (“public peace”) by PL 2016 / 2015 to understand who “terrorists” threaten relations in a country that, as admitted by Ministers Cardoso and Levy, has never been attacked on its territory. But even so, because of the Olympics, it needs to be appreciated urgently.

The concern of activists to be incriminated by such a law is thus quite likely. The probability is accentuated by the reactionary context of national politics. In the Senate, for example, Senator Aloysio Nunes's substitute was approved for the bill: the São Paulo PSDB senator wants to remove the paragraph that excludes the application to conduct of people in social mobilizations and to add the expression “political extremism” in the definition. of "terrorist". Given that even the UN has not been able to typify terrorism, the seriousness of the Brazilian proposal is evident.

The Senate case points to an additional problem with the reception of financial system standards. They are reappropriated by local elites to suit their interests. The new anti-terrorism law proves to be an appropriate instrument to inhibit protests against the current conservative wave. As Deputy Brizola Neto (PDT-RJ) recalled in the act of repudiation of the bill, if, in a possible demonstration, someone damages the stock exchange's windows, he may be sentenced to imprisonment from 16 to 24 years.

Aloysio Nunes Ferreira (PSDB-SP) wants to include 'political extremism' in the law [photo: Lula Marques]

This is obviously disproportionate, especially when considering the impact of the glassmaking budget on the financial system's accounts. In this tune, acts such as those contrary to Vale's auction would be avoided. The same logic of criminalization could be used to suppress protests against the retrograde agenda in force in Congress.

One cannot have the illusion that there is an antagonistic relationship between the actions of local elites and global financial bodies. To do so, just think of the high frequency of freedom-of-association repressive national laws stimulated by the FATF recommendations.

In capitalism, backwardness has always been functional and constitutive of the modern. And both have always opposed the resistance of social movements from the streets. In fact, one of the statements by Senator Aloysio Nunes that justifies his replacement is curious. He quoted a quote from Guimarães Rosa: "the devil is loose in the middle of the street". Is it really on the street, senator?

* Guilherme Leite Gonçalves is Professor of Sociology of Law at UERJ.