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Brazzil - Politics - July 2004

Brazil, a Land of Nobles and Serfs

"In Brazil, one population today has medical services as
sophisticated as those of the U.S. and Europe, while another
dies for lack of medical attention. The nobility and the commoners.
We members of Congress address each other as Your Excellency,
and the President lives in the Alvorada Palace."

Nelson Breve and Maurício Hashizume

Alvorada Palace

Picture When he was Minister of Education, Senator Cristovam Buarque from the Federal District's Workers' Party took advantage of a luncheon in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry's Itamaraty Palace to ask President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva something that had been bothering him for some time.

Despite the cabinet post he was occupying, he had still not had the ideal opportunity, during the infrequent meetings he'd had with the President, to make the following proposal:

"Mr. President, I want to ask you for a meeting without neckties and without soccer shoes," said Cristovam, referring to the fact that the meetings at the Granja do Torto, the presidential ranch; the Alvorada Palace, the presidential residence; and the Planalto Palace, the presidential office, are either formal gatherings where neckties must be worn, or those where soccer shoes must be worn, when the conversation tends to be limited to the sport.

The President answered quickly, demonstrating his agility of reasoning. "You can come and play barefoot," the President changed the subject, wrapping in irony the message that that type of meeting did not suit him.

Dismissed by the President by telephone in the ministerial reform five months ago, the ex-Minister always tells that story to demonstrate the difficulty of having a dialogue within the government.

"That is symbolic of his intelligence and symbolic of the affirmation that there are only those two spaces within the government. Which is bad," was the criticism by the ex-Governor of the Federal District, formulator and originator of the Bolsa Escola Program, which innovated the model of transferring revenue to the country's needy families.

In this interview, which was originally given to Brazilian news agency, Agência Carta Maior, Cristovam relates a good part of what he would have liked—but was not able— to tell the President personally in these 18 months of his administration.

According to the Workers' Party (PT) senator, Lula lost the opportunity to administer a "social shock" at the very beginning of his government. This would have been done by drawing a part of the revenue from the rich to establish a large program with the objective of making concrete changes in the lives of 40 million Brazilian children in the next 15 years.

Despite the time already lost, he calculates that it is not too late to veer to the left before the municipal elections are held. It would be enough for the President to take advantage of the crisis in the approval of the minimum wage to make a pact with the Congress favoring Brazilian children. Personally, however, Cristovam has little hope that this will occur. "There is a certain arrogance in the way that we [of the Left] exercise power."

What did you mean by emphasizing revolution in the article you wrote for the Folha de S. Paulo (June 15, 2004 - http://www.brazzil.com/2004/html/articles/jun04/p142jun04.htm).

It is very simple from the point of view that Brazil, unlike all the other countries that made a leap forward, has never in its history made a revolution. Brazil took a step towards a revolution when it abolished slavery.

Even so, it was an incomplete revolution because it did not distribute land to the slaves; it did not place the children of the slaves or of the ex-slaves in school—which was earlier prohibited. It freed the slaves from the slave quarters but it threw them into the favelas.

Brazil never made a revolution in the sense of "every child in school," of "every rural worker with land," a revolution in the area of healthcare or an urban revolution, for example.

Lula's election, as I see it, was a revolutionary step. But it was revolution in the behavior of the electorate that, for the first time, had the "audacity" to elect a worker, someone who came from the lowest strata of the population and who did not pay tribute to the elite.

Brazil already had presidents who were poor, but they paid one, two, three, or all three tributes: Either they became rich; they passed over to the side of the conservatives; or they attended the university. Three ways to distance yourself from the people. Lula did not do any of those three things.

What I believe was expected is that, soon after he took office, Lula would begin to take steps towards completing the abolition. This is the revolution I say has stagnated since the time of Princess Isabel. The stagnant revolution is what has not been completed since the abolition of slavery [in 1888].

I also include completing the Republic. But, if you do the first, the second will follow. During the time of the Empire, Brazil had the nobility and the commoners. We threw out the Emperor and replaced him with a president but kept the nobility and the commoners.

Brazil did not create a people who felt they were equal partners in a national project. For example, a country where around 15 percent of the population spends an average of 260,000 reais (US$ 84,000) on their education, as we do here. And for the 50 percent poorest, the State spends 3,200 reais (US$ 1,032), The nobility and the commoners.

One population today has medical services as sophisticated as those of the United States and Europe, while another dies for lack of medical attention. The nobility and the commoners. We members of Congress address each other as "Your Excellency," as if we were nobles. We do not call each other "citizen."

The President really is a metallurgist; yet he lives in the Alvorada "Palace." Where does the President of the United States live? In the White "House." It is not the "White Palace." All the Brazilian symbols show that the Republic has not been completed.

Lula's role was to "unstagnate" the revolution, taking the initial steps so that in 10 or 15 years or by 2022, when we will celebrate the Bicentennial of our Independence, that revolution could have been complete. But I think that those steps have not yet been taken. That is why I say that the revolution continues to stagnate.

Could you explain better what is behind the idea—which sounds a little prejudiced—that the "Republic of the union members" thinks for the short term because it has a mentality and not an ideology?

In Brazil we have defined what "petista" [characteristic of the Workers Party] is. It is a positive mentality: combative, honest. That is a mentality and not an ideology. But no one is talking about "petism." Petism does demand an ideology. In the Left that came before the PT, you had "communist," and "communism." Today you do not have a petism; you do not have an ideology.

If it were a prejudiced idea, then it was for me also. I am a petista, but I do not have a beacon illuminated by petism. What is the combination of ideas, of proposals, of commitments, that petism signifies? This is not clear.

When I speak of the President and of the nucleus of leaders, I am not criticizing only them. The party's directors, of whom I form a part, also are involved in this.

It is possible that individually each of us has an ideology. But together, we are still guided by a mentality. Lulism does not yet exist, not like there was a Peronism and like Juscelino [Kubitschek] created developmentalism. It does not have to be named after him.

Our government did not create a new vocabulary. Every revolution and every new ideology creates a new vocabulary. Juscelino did not only create developmentalism; he created Brasília. It is a new vocabulary. And he continued creating a portion of new things like "SUDENE," the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast.

Isn't "social inclusion" a new vocabulary?

"Social inclusion" is not only a term of the Workers' Party. Besides, it is not being done. "Social inclusion" would be [a new vocabulary] if it became the banner of all the cabinet ministers. And I told the President that once.

Juscelino was successful in making all the cabinet ministers feel like soldiers of developmentalism. All of them. What do all the ministers speak about in common today? Does [Minister of Development Luiz Fernando] Furlan speak about social inclusion? Is that Furlan's banner?

Which other ones have it as a banner? Does the Minister of Health have monetary stability as a banner? Because social inclusion demands monetary stability.

One time I said this in a cabinet meeting. By the way, it was the last one I attended. And this doesn't mean that this was the reason I left. Present there were [Finance MinisterAntonio] Palocci, [Chief of Staff] José Dirceu and the ministers of the social sector, who numbered twenty-something.

I said, "Mr. President, if you have a Minister of Education uncommitted to monetary stability, that is grounds for dismissal. And if you have a Minister of Finance uncommitted to guaranteeing to put every child in school, that is grounds for dismissal.

Now, you would have to call the two of them and ask, `To maintain stability and place all the children in school, will we have schools with air conditioning or under the trees? Will there be a computer or only pencils?'

But the Minister of Finance will never feel like a soldier in the universalization of education and a Minister of Education will never feel like a soldier for monetary stability." We do not have that conjunction of ideas that would unify all the cabinet ministers.

Even Fome Zero [Zero Hunger], which I say is the only new vocabulary, is so restricted that it cannot be a project of the nation. It is not a word that encompasses the entire nation. And even so, it cannot be said that everyone is a part of that. It is a small program. By the way, it is a project. It is not a new vision of Brazil.

How can you reconcile that world of ideas with the world of politics?

In the world of ideas there exists a set of measures that you have to bring to all the national forces and leaderships: Congress, governors, mayors, business and labor leaders… Therefore, when I took office as a cabinet minister, I hung up on my wall and those of all of my secretaries a list of 31 objectives up until the year 2015.

With those objectives you define the means—including there the detailing in laws—and you are going to negotiate with politics. I spoke here of 2022, didn't I? Politically, you are not all of a sudden going to obtain the money to do everything by 2022. It would have to wait until 2050.

In this case, the politics is easier than in Juscelino's time. The banner "social inclusion" is much more acceptable than relocating the capital of the country. It is much easier for Brazil to spend money on social inclusion today than to convince the coffee growers to invest in the automobile industry.

It was not easy to convince the agricultural sector—which was accustomed to exporting its products and importing what it needed—to buy here in Brazil for two, three, four times the price. We tend to forget, but when the first Brazilian cars were manufactured here, they cost two, three, four times the price. It was against the law to import cars.

Outlawing the importation of cars must have been very difficult for the members of the Chamber of Deputies of the epoch to accept. Exchanging their Pontiacs, their Chevrolets with tail fins and beginning to drive Volkswagen bugs. For the same price. That is what was difficult: developmentalism was even more difficult than "inclusionism." Let's call it that.

Would that be so? Developmentalism presupposes the growth of wealth for the rich. Inclusion means you will transfer wealth from the rich to the poor.

First, it was growth of wealth for the rich but it was for the other rich people. Not those of the previous rural oligarchy. It was foreign capital. It was the financial sectors that had the money of the agriculturists. One or another agriculturist changed activities.

The majority of them did not. And among the rich, there were also serious quarrels. Now, the quarrel over transferring from the rich to the poor, in the democracy, is going to demand that the timetable be negotiated.

For example, I am defending the idea that we would need some 25 billion reais (US$ 8 billion) more per year to make a great leap in basic and higher education in Brazil. Today we have nowhere from which to take 25 billion reais, in a democracy, because people are not going to want to open their wallets. So, begin with 5 billion reais (US$ 1.6 billion). It sends a message.

So Lula is the predestined one. Lula is the only guy qualified to convince the rich. First because the rich are afraid of losing everything with him. When Lula asks for only a part, they are going to sigh in relief, "Phew! Good! He's only asking for that." But this should have been in the first days. Even though he got the elite vote, the elite was frightened by Lula's arrival in power, of the Workers' Party. At that time he had to say, "I'm going to take this."

[As governor of the Federal District] I took 30 million reais (US$ 9.7 million) per year for the Bolsa Escola . I stopped constructing bridges. I stopped many public works projects. The rich population calmly accepted this. And they didn't stop voting for me because of this.

And I think that I did not even lose [reelection] because of the vote of the rich. I lost because of an illusion of corporative groups. Then, it is acceptable and not that much money is needed: 2 percent of the national revenue would already be 40 billion reais (US$ 13 billion) more per year to spend for the poor. And then, yes, to make a complete leap in the abolition of slavery in 10, 15 years.

We are seeing just the opposite. The newspapers of yesterday and today [June 16 and 17, 2004] say that the number of millionaires increased and the workers' power of acquisition fell. Then, how can this be carried over to politics?

By making a great national pact, making it acceptable to transfer, not from the rich to the poor, but from the rich to the government, which would transfer it in services to the poor. Transferring the monetary revenue from the rich to the poor would not work because that would not lift the poor out of poverty and would even "irritate" the rich. If, however, you would channel it to the poor through the government in the form of services, the rich would benefit.

But is it possible to do that with the present correlation of forces that compose the government, which is finding it difficult to maintain the readjustment established for the minimum wage?

The difficulty in approving the minimum wage comes from other things. If in the first days of his government Lula had said that he would keep the name Bolsa Escola and would double its value… He could have telephoned [former President] Fernando Henrique and said, "Mr. President, I am going to carry your Bolsa Escola project forward."

Do you think that the PSDB [the former president's political party] would remain opposed? How could the PSDB stay opposed to augmenting the value of the Bolsa Escola? Impossible! And Fome Zero would already have reached everyone in the first weeks of the government. Everything was all ready.

My first conflict with the government, in February [of last year] was when I spoke to the mayors and also spoke on television, saying that Fome Zero was the greater Bolsa Escola. To double the Bolsa Escola, it would have cost 20 percent of the money that was reserved for Fome Zero—300 million reais (US$ 97 million) of 1.5 billion reais (US$ 484 million).

But then Lula should have said, "I'm going to keep the name, respect President Fernando Henrique's `paternity' and double the value." It could have been multiplied by four. If you should say that you were going to take FUNDEF [the Fund for Development and Maintenance of Elementary Teaching and Teaching Development] and transform it into FUNDEB [the National Fund for Basic Education], do you think that the PSDB would remain opposed if you made the linkage as continuity?

At my inauguration I called this "continue forward and turn to the left": continue forward because we are not going to go backwards. By the way, what I said was, "I am taking over a ministry that is already on the march. The thing to do now is step on the accelerator and turn to the left." It would have had support. It was a question of conversing.

The minimum wage is having this difficulty in passing here because it was presented as a fait accompli. I heard a PT senator—and it was not [Paulo] Paim—say: "No one talked to me beforehand and no one tried to hear my arguments that it could be R$ 265 so that I could change my mind and agree to R$ 260."

[This was Senator Flávio Arns, who voted against the government, along with Senator Paulo Paim and their woman colleague Senator Serys Slhesssanrenko]. The government does not talk with the Congress.

Take the Council of Economic and Social Development, for example. In it there is no conversation about a national project. In it is a conversation of interests—each one wanting to elaborate upon his or her demands

But is that a problem only of this government? The base of the previous government also complained that it was not heard.

Same thing. Maybe even worse, I don't know. But it is less justifiable in that government if it wants to make changes. For you to administer by "continuing" it is not necessary to converse much. Now, for you to administer by "changing," it is necessary to converse a great deal.

It was difficult to approve the transfer of the capital. To take those guys out of Rio de Janeiro, to spend a lot of money to build the new capital. And Juscelino succeeded in doing it. Democratically.

What is the "Brasília" of Lula?

When I was in the government, I prepared a document for [Minister of the Secretariat of Communication of Government and Strategic Management, Luiz] Gushiken, which could be the continuation of that article "Unstagnate the Revolution." In it I said that Lula's legacy, Lula's "Brasília," would be to change the situation of Brazilian children. I would choose this. It is an obsession of mine, perhaps.

It is possible for Lula to say, "I left, in four years, a different situation for the children of Brazil." From prenatal medical care to the Primeiro Emprego [first employment] Program. A series of programs that would care for the child at every phase.

In the same way that Juscelino needed from 20 to 30 years and only five remained, [these programs] would need 15 years [to complete the cycle], when those young children who received services would be finishing high school. But beginning now. Kicking it off and not stopping.

I defend this. It is clear that besides that is something else: Brazil making a leap into the society of knowledge, investing in technology, as Gushiken himself says. And for that it is necessary to have education, health programs.

I would say that Lula's "Brasília" would have to be the child. And for the child, the public school. And what I presented does not remain generic: It goes from program to program. It is the letter that I prepared for Gushiken on the 1st of January [of this year].

I took advantage of the holiday and wrote that letter. I delivered it on January 4. He even made copies and distributed it to other cabinet ministers. I know this because some of them came to tell me.

Like several analysts of the Left, you maintain that things should have been done precisely at the beginning of Lula's government. Isn't that still possible? How can that "revolution" be taken up again, including the symbolic and cultural revolution, after having lost that window of opportunity at the beginning of the government, which you pointed out?

Without a doubt, there is still time until the municipal elections. After the municipal elections, it will only be possible if the PT has won them. And some of the elections are symbolic: if the PT loses in São Paulo, then I think that there will be no more time, no there won't. Why? Because it will appear to be a reaction to the setback and not done because of a desire to make the change.

Losing the minimum wage, now that is difficult. But if, before voting on the minimum wage, Lula had called the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, since the Chamber needs to get its strokes to change the minimum wage now, and if he had said,

"I made a mistake when I didn't listen to you before. I want to apologize for not having discussed the minimum wage with you and demonstrated the government's arguments for not giving more than 260 reais (US$ 84) a month because, obviously, if it were up to me, I would give more.

"I knew that giving more would not work, but I made a mistake: not having called all of you to converse. But now let's talk about how we can complement that minimum wage."

And then he could present some sort of project [like the one for the children]. "Let's make the revolution that Brazil needs. What I want for you to support is not only the 15 reais (US$ 4.8) more, no it isn't. I want you to support 100 reais (US$ 32) more in the minimum wage. But it is not going towards the minimum wage. That 100 reais is going to FUNDEB for the running water and plumbing program, for the Bolsa Família."

To place just one more child in school, it would cost at least 20 reais (US$ 6.4) more for the minimum wage. That pays for the snack. That is not what the government is spending, which is less than this, but it is what it is worth.

To eat a meal, directly, it costs at least 1 real (32 cents) per day, 20 days a month. He should also say, "Let's present this as a victory for those of you in the Congress. I don't want it to be my victory. The victory belongs to the Congress."

And that is not done because there is a certain arrogance in the way that we exercise power. The entire Left has a little of this. It is so convinced that it is correct that it often becomes arrogant. And I include myself among those also. It is because of our mentality.

We are so certain, each and every one of us, that we are on the side of the people, that we don't even give a few strokes to the people and also the members of Congress. I say that, but in my ministry, I gave a lot of strokes to the Congress, perhaps because I had just been elected to the Congress and knew that one day one would return there.

I treated the Congress well, spent hours and hours in meetings. I met with, I think, about 60 percent of the members of Congress my first year as minister, some of them many times.

There still is time and the thing to do is call the Congress and go further than this matter of the 15 reais more. Not with money because it is going to take away from the Pension Fund and is not going to resolve the problem of the worker in any way.

Let's go another way. And Lula is the man who is prepared, who's ready for this. Perhaps the problem might be the fact that Lula is so strong in direct contact with the people that he disdains the intermediary of the Congress. That is a problem of leaders who are strongly charismatic.

They, in general, think that they can do without the intermediary of the Congress. Only, according to the Constitution, it does no good if the people are in favor of something and the Congress votes against it. It does not become law.

The President can spend four years without doing things and leave borne upon the shoulders of the people because of his charisma. And Lula has no right not to leave his mark. Lula does not have the right to leave borne upon the shoulders of the people without leaving a mark for the next generations, a legacy.

Besides that, he only will leave borne upon the shoulders of the people without leaving his mark if it is in his first term. In eight years no one will pardon him. Four is already difficult to pardon if it remains merely on the basis of conversation, of charisma. Eight is impossible on the basis of charisma. Eight is on the basis of changes.

You use an expression—and you probably are one of the first government supporters to use it—that is routinely employed by the opposition, which is "The government had a project of power, but did not have a project for the future of the country." Can't the President take this as disloyal criticism?

They are two different things here: Whether [the criticism] is or is not disloyal; and whether it is right or wrong. The President can say, "It's disloyal to say this in an article instead of saying it to me." But I've already said it within the realm of the possible. Only there isn't great space for conversations within the government.

There was no kind of discussion in any of the cabinet meetings. The ministers' meetings were for each minister to talk about what he or she was doing. I dared to digress from this some two or three times and I don't think that I was well received. Lula himself said, it came out in the newspaper,

"Cristovam comes here and he talks about other things and not what concerns his ministry." And, look, I didn't succeed in talking that much. I had two, three, four meetings. Maybe not even that many. And also I wasn't going to talk about other things when I had to resolve ministry problems.

It isn't disloyalty in that sense of having gone to the newspaper because there was no space for these conversations. And even so I said, "I wrote that letter to Gushiken and I sent many e-mails to the President by means of his secretary. E-mails that were very short so as not to take up time that the President doesn't have. I even used very big letters because he, like me, needs glasses to read.

We're so busy we don't even have time to put on our glasses. Even thinking about having to put on our glasses discourages us from reading." I wrote paragraphs in very large letters so as not to have to use glasses. Then, it was not disloyalty in that sense.

Now, was it mistaken or not? I think that it was not mistaken and I began to perceive that at the start of the government when, in the first dispatches with the head of the Ministry of Justice, I perceived that there was no space to discuss anything conceptual.

There was no space for discussion of a project for Brazil. The discussions went straight to the point, like that one here [of the Senate]: Is the minimum wage going to pass or not?

When I raised the proposal of guaranteeing a place for each child on his or her fourth birthday in the school closest to the child's home—which is in the program of the government—there was no discussion of what this would represent from the transformative point of view of.

The discussion was, "But that is going to create problems with the mayors because they're the ones in charge of the schools and it's not going to cost the federal government anything." In truth, it's not going to cost the mayors anything.

When you place a child inside the school, he or she will sit on the floor. An hour later a chair will appear for the child. The snack that's already there will be shared. But a month later more portions of snacks will appear.

We would transform necessity into demand. Necessity is a child on the sidewalk outside the school. Demand is that child inside the school without a bench to sit on. There outside, the child is not demanding but in need.

From the beginning I've felt that there was neither space nor interest to discuss projects of the nation. Except with Gushiken. Gushiken was still trying to discuss something greater, but he also fell into the managerial line of communication. I think that the criticism I'm making is not disloyal or mistaken. I might still be convinced that it is.

On the other hand, even if I had gone and conversed with the President—and after I left the Ministry I did not have another contact with him, no one telephoned me, no one called, except for now when the time has come to vote on the minimum wage, when I said that I would vote "no" or that I would abstain if there were no negotiation about administering a social shock and that Palocci was with me—nothing would have happened anyway.

That lack of dialogue is bad. Every president has a group of persons, usually critics, with whom he converses occasionally. All of them. Friends and those who are not such friends. The business leaders today also very much resent the lack of dialogue to say what they think.

Recently, an American woman investor was here who had billions of reais and she did not succeed in meeting with anyone in the government. Fernando Henrique organized meetings of that sort that no one knew about, and he received business leaders to converse in the Alvorada Palace.

Now I think that Lula cannot just converse with business leaders. He had to also receive other groups. When was the last time that Lula sat down to converse, not as a president speaking, but as a president hearing people related to the problems of the land, of the environment? I don't remember. I don't know. Or persons who are not even of these groups? Persons who think about Brazil.

When was the last time that Lula sat down calmly, for an entire afternoon—on a weekend or even on a weekday when he did not go to the Planalto Palace—with Hélio Jaguaribe, with Cândido Mendes, with Celso Furtado, with Aziz Ab´Saber, with Antônio Cândido?

It's necessary. The great presidents, like [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt [of the USA], had those groups, different groups, people not concerned with making a good impression, that are not trying—as we ministers always are, let's not lie about that—to come off well with the President.

A cabinet minister has to come out of a meeting leaving the President happy. If not, his or her office is up for grabs. The minister feels like he or she is meeting with the boss. Those people I named would sit down with a person they respect: He is not their boss; he is the president. Ministers rarely have the nerve to say things that matter.

What is your objective with the public criticism of the article?

I believe that the time has come for the PT to wake up. I wrote the article with the PT reader in mind; I'm not going to lie to you about that. I thought that what we call the 800 thousand members of the PT nation who, to my way of thinking, are keeping quiet. Or abandoning ship. And I do not see them as synchronized with the PT State.

And I see no future for "unstagnating the revolution" if it is not through the PT and also through Lula. But, since the dialogue with Lula is not a simple, easy dialogue, then I am going to dialogue with the PT. No other party out there is capable of carrying that banner.

And I even stuck at the end of the article the idea that if the PT does not carry it forward, another party will. But, out of all those parties out there, I don't see any with that possibility.

What should be the role of the PT from here on? How should that pressure for change be made, how should that ideology of "petism" to which you refer be constructed?

A slow process exists: It is simply to talk, talk, talk… But all that talk will become reality on two occasions: in the next PT Congress [projected for the beginning of the coming year] and in the primaries to choose the next candidate for president.

That's when there will be a great debate. That's when the great project of the nation is going to emerge. Why? Because Lula did not have a primary. The project of the PT, my project, was Lula. Our project was Lula.

I, in my head, had a project for Brazil. [Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce, Luiz Fernando] Furlan had a project for Brazil. [Minister of Agricultural Development Miguel] Rossetto had a project for Brazil. [Minister of Culture Gilberto] Gil had his project. But there was not "the" project. What unified all of us was Lula.

The next candidate for president will be chosen by means of a debate. Another figure like Lula does not exist. Not even José Dirceu has unanimity within the PT. The unanimity within the PT has ended. That is a substantial change.

In 2006, if Lula is candidate for reelection, it will be difficult to have a primary. But if Lula is not a candidate in 2006, or, then, in 2010, there will be a primary. And certainly projects for the nation will emerge then. But I have hopes that this project will emerge before that.

Led by whom?

Today it has no leader. Today there are voices. The only PT leader is Lula. If Lula takes it up, it would be him. That would be great: Lula taking up the banner of every child in school. Just as, by the way, he took up the banner of Fome Zero.

If instead of Fome Zero, there were a collection of measures and proposals with a new word, as was "developmentalism," then there would be no problem. We would all be with him. If it is not now, it is going to be "no one knows" instead of "whom?" Even if 2010 is still a long time away. We are going to have great mayors.

We are talking about a possible scenario without great frustration…

I am speaking within the PT. Now, if that candidate who emerges from that discussion is going to win or not is another problem. If there is frustration, the candidate will not win. There is no salvation for anyone in the PT if Lula does not succeed.

Any PT member who bets on Lula failing can put away the necktie and the soccer shoes. His or her personal project is over. In that case PT members can be elected deputy, senator, but even a governorship will be difficult.

But, even if Lula should fail, there will be a great debate. Perhaps the debate will be even greater within the PT if [the Lula government] does not work out.

Because, if it does work out, it will be because the debate will have already been conducted, led by him. Either the commander is Lula or there is no commander yet. And suddenly it can be a name that no one ever heard spoken before. Six years is a long time.

Nelson Breve and Maurício Hashizume write for Brazilian news agency Agência Carta Maior, where this interview appeared originally, in Portuguese.
Cristovam Buarque - cristovam@senador.gov.br - is a Workers' Party senator for the Federal District.
Translated by Linda Jerome - LinJerome@cs.com.

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