"An Easter Letter - Before it is too late: Make Changes" ("Carta
da Páscoa - Antes que seja tarde: Mudança Já") is
the title of a document signed by 15 deputies who are members of the Workers'
Party (PT) that President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva also belongs to.
The signatories, known as the "rebellious wing of the party" say
they are not satisfied with government economic policy.
The letter contains 27
grievances which range from interest rates to inflation targets to the primary
surplus. The signatories accuse the government of economizing money to pay
for commitments made with the International Monetary Fund, such as the primary
surplus target of 4.25 percent of GDP. They say they want more spending for
social programs which were campaign promises.
"It is not acceptable
to see the government spend US$ 3.4 billion (10 billion reais) to pay off
debts. That is money that should be going to ministries. That is not PT policy,"
complains Chico Alencar, from Rio de Janeiro.
According to Pernambuco
state representative, Paulo Ruben Santiago, the group wants a discussion of
economic policy within the party, but is not demanding that minister of Finance,
Antônio Palocci, be fired. "We are not calling for the substitution
of any cabinet member," he declared
The signatories say they
will take their demands to the national party meeting this month (on the 17th
and 18th). "We want a different Brazil," said one of them.
The president of the PT,
Jose Genoíno, declared that there was nothing new in the Easter Letter.
"The government is already doing some of the things they ask for, like
microfinancing and lower interest rates. We want interest rates to fall even
more," he said, adding that the party is willing to discuss the issues
but has to be careful about surprises in macroeconomic policy.
that what is necessary is to balance inflation targets with development needs.
He said the PT has to get used to being the government. "We cannot just
undo what has been done. That will make things worse. We have a lot of responsibility,"
At a reception to commemorate
Journalists' Day with representatives of the National Federation of Journalists
(Fenaj) and reporters who cover the Planalto Palace, President Lula da Silva
said that he intends to work more closely with the media and professional
newspeople, in order to form a "type of loyal relationship."
"When I say `loyal,'
this means a relationship in which the government should at no time ask journalists
to sing its praises, nor should journalists ever speak ill just because they
want to. If we all seek the truth, and only the truth interests us, the country
will be more serene for everybody, and we shall be contributing to the establishment
of a really true democracy in our country," Lula declared.
The President called for
the press to be guided by the truth of the facts, rather than the interests
of journalists or owners of the news media.
The Minister of the Secretariat
of Social Communication of the Presidency, Luiz Gushiken, availed himself
of the opportunity to argue that the press should also transmit news on positive
things that have been done in the country. In his view, the press is a window
on the world and should also reflect the positive things that exist.
At the meeting, the president
of the Fenaj, Beth Costa, handed President Lula a document requesting the
creation of the Federal Council and state councils of Journalism, which would
be responsible for regulating the profession and supervising the way it is
practiced and taught. Lula was receptive to the creation of the councils.
Iolando Lourenço works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official
press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org