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Brazzil - Politics - September 2003
 

Fernando Inácio Henrique Lula da Silva of Brazil

Overseas, President Lula says everything we would love him
to say. He criticizes the rich and rebels against the customs
barriers imposed on our exports. Back home he surrenders
to the most humiliating demands from the international financial
system. When he grants wage raises, the raises are ridiculous.

Carlos Chagas

 

It's a fact and I don't mean it grudgingly: the Lula administration remains just like the Fernando Henrique administration. For example, let's take the President's performance when he travels abroad. When he is out of the country, Lula says everything we would love him to say here. He criticizes the protectionism of rich countries towards their agricultural production, rebels against the customs barriers imposed on our exports, exhorts the powerful to accept the rules they themselves create and claims for a global fight against destitution, hunger and disease.

What Lula did in New York as well as Antônio Palocci in Dubai, is precisely what Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Pedro Malan did last year in the same United Nations auditorium and at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in London—to mention just two examples.

Applause and glad tidings would be eternally due to all four, if not for a subtle overlooked detail. When back in Brazil, all of them practice the opposite of what they preach. All exhortations are forgotten and there is no continuity to proposals made abroad.

At home, they surrender to the most malapropos and humiliating demands from the international financial system. Via BNDES, they turn on the Treasury's spigots to either rescue broken banks or prevent privatized electric utilities from going bankrupt. They don't hesitate to allow abusive increases in the prices of public services, to raise taxes and to suppress social rights. When they grant wage raises, the raises are ridiculous.

It is now proved that this strategy never works. What better proof than the election of our current President? During his campaign, Lula promised to change everything his predecessor did. He was elected because of the alternatives he would introduce. None were introduced and the results are there for all to see. Everyone is confused about names: was Fernando Inácio da Silva Cardoso our last President? Is the current one called Luis Henrique Lula Cardoso da Silva? It doesn't really matter, actually...

Bicudo e Pinotti demand respect

The group of public figures above any suspicion, those in which the highest virtues and almost no vices are recognized, is getting smaller and smaller these days. Hélio Bicudo, who served several times as a deputado federal for the PT in the House of Representatives and currently vice-mayor of São Paulo, is definitely in that select group. He doesn't, therefore, deserve what they are trying to do with him. With Martha Suplicy running for reelection, there is no reason to push Dr. Hélio aside or to stitch this strange alliance with PMDB.

Another politician of equal respectability, physician José Aristodemo Pinotti, is the other actor in this scenario. Pinotti is the PMDB candidate for mayor of São Paulo and has all the necessary qualifications to run for that office. To imagine him as vice-mayor for 'Madame Favre' is nothing short of disrespect.

PT has everything it needs to stay at the helm of the São Paulo state capital. We can say the same for PMDB and the mayor's office. All we need is to remember the administrations of Luíza Erundina and Mário Covas, in the not so recent past. What is unacceptable, though, is a conspiracy that begins with the pushing aside of one of the most serious-minded politicians the state has ever had and ends with the humiliation of another one of equal caliber. Keeping the PT in power may be important, but it is not worth all this...

Playing with Fire

The Planalto Palace has been playing with fire on the issue of tax reform. There is no more doubt that the government's bill will pass the second round in the House. When it gets to the Senate, however, it will be a crisis waiting to happen. There is no way that the text, as it is written, will be accepted by the governors in the North and Northeast. It is another example of the violence perpetrated in favor of the more developed states in Brazil.

It is erroneous to suppose that the leaderships in the less developed states are feeling divided and perplexed. Last weekend alone added significantly to the profit of the nation's telephone companies because all the governors called back and forth to each other several times. They are mobilizing their State Senators who will, save very rare exceptions, show a united front in defense of regional interests.

For the congressional blocs representing the Northern and Northeastern states, the passing of the government's bill will amount to treason on the part of those who voted for it. For these senators, voting for tax reform as it is now drafted will mean a farewell to public service.

There are no marches, rallies or war declarations planned for the halls of the National Congress, but the North and Northeast blocs are much more united than most people would think. Either the federal government concedes and allows for compensation to states located in these regions or it will harvest an Olympian defeat.

 

Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio's daily Tribuna da Imprensa and is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília. He welcomes your comments at carloschagas@hotmail.com  

This article appeared originally in Tribuna da Imprensa - http://www.tribuna.inf.br 

Translated by Tereza Braga. Braga is a freelance Portuguese translator and interpreter based in Dallas. She is an accredited member of the American Translators Association. Contact: terezab@sbcglobal.net

 









 
 
 







 



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