President Lula appealed to labor movements and movements for social justice:
"Don't be in a rush, all of our promises will be carried out in time."
There is no way one can disagree with the head of the government. Miracles
do not happen and real changes cannot be made overnight.
It might even be possible
to accept the President's reasoning and find the strength to dispel the shadows
of frustration hovering over the entire country, if it weren't for
it weren't for the realization that his appeal is lame.
The 13 million unemployed
should not be in a rush to find work. Nor the 53 million indigent who survive
on half the minimum wage each month. Much less the 40 million who receive
the minimum wage (R$ 240/month, US$ 80) and do not know by how much this will
be increased. And Brazilian companies who wish to see the tax burden, which
hinders them in competing with multinationals, reduced should not be in a
Nor the landless who are
waiting to receive their little plots. The hell of it is that the government
continues to be in a rush to look after any and every demand of the speculators.
And in a rush to religiously send out of Brazil tens of billions of dollars
in payment for the interest on external and public debt.
In a rush to counter any
hypothetical alteration in the economic model, which according to Minister
Antônio Palocci will have to last for another ten years, a promise made
before the ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
The employees of the INSS
(Social Security) went on strike in thirteen states. Not a day passes without
new sectors calling for paralysis and confrontation with the government. The
public functionaries have already set May 10 as the day for a general strike.
What does it mean, this
succession of events which are responsible for the near paralysis of the State?
Nothing less than the general recognition that the campaign promises are not
being fulfilled, and that the solution will be to permanently put pressure
on those who hold power. And why is this happening? Because the government
is losing authority, after having lost its credibility.
And not just with the
masses and the various sectors which are demanding their rights. The elites
have also signed on to this dangerous formula. What is most often heard in
Avenida Paulista and thereabouts is that if the government does not continue
to be shackled to the economic model inherited from the past, investments
will no longer be made.
Foreign capital will no
longer enter and domestic capital will leave the country at an accelerating
rate. Threats go from the necessity of making the rules, which govern regulatory
agencies permanent, to demands for repression of illegal squatters.
To sum up, everyone is
putting pressure on the government, having discovered its weaknesses. More
than ever, a show of firmness is necessary. Preferably, addressing those who
In portions of the Left,
which are only weakly aligned with the PT, or not at all, a way to push the
government to fulfill its campaign promises, to put the neoliberal cycle to
a close, and begin to promote social and economic change has begun to germinate.
It would be a sort of
popular mobilization in the manner of the "Diretas Já" (Direct
Elections, Now) campaign. People in the street, demanding the changes which
were promised, and which were responsible for Lula's ascent to power, sixteen
For some, the movement
ought to be unleashed on behalf of the government, a sort of support for
the elections of 2002. Others imagine a protest. It doesn't really matter,
because conditions which justify popular pressure already exist.
Brazil has changed since
Lula took power, with hope giving way to frustration, and now indignation.
What is the exact time for this operation: before or after the municipal elections
A Cage for the
The scenes of horror staged
by drug traffickers in Rio, and by Indians and detainees in Rondônia,
go to show that there is only one Brazil. The interior and the coast suffer
from the same malady, expressed in the animality of those who, not believing
in the force of law, try to construct a world without it. If things continue
as they are going, we will witness the collapse of organized society.
Public power is the only
way to avoid the unraveling of society. But it needs to act rapidly. These
animals need to be caged. To temporize in dealing with such acts would be
to acknowledge the failure of constituted authority.
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 email@example.com.
from the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated
by the language and culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates
from Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and
is also active as a musician. He is the librarian for music,
modern languages and media at The College of New Jersey. Comments
welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.