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Brazzil - Politics - July 2004
 

Poor Brazil: From Zero to Nothing, Fast

Both Lula and Cardoso, his predecessor, are candidates for Brazil's
2006 elections. Lula and Cardoso, united by the same economic
model, will fight for the popular vote without a single new
agenda item. All the deceptive promises of change will be worth
nothing. No other alternative seems possible at this point in time.

Carlos Chagas


Brazzil

Picture This is beyond coincidence. We are talking about a real dispute that prognosticates a collision. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso spent the weekend in São Paulo.

Neither one was present at the confirmation of their respective parties' mayoral candidates. Cardoso was not there to offer greetings to José Serra and there was no hug between Lula and Marta Suplicy. Both men, nevertheless, declared their undivided support to the nominees.

The President and his predecessor have communicated their decision to stay away from political rallies. Soon enough, however, the public will know their preferences. Both Lula and Fernando Henrique are candidates for the 2006 elections.

One will attempt reelection and the other will pursue a return to the old nest. This might well be the reason why they look increasingly similar. Like in the verses of Cervantes, they remind me of the knights from Granada—cavaleiros de Granada, que alta madrugada, brandindo lança e espada, saíram em louca disparada. Para quê? Para nada. (In the middle of the night, brandishing lance and sword, the knights from Granada left on a mad run. What for? Nothing at all.)

From time to time, Brazil submerges into periods of stupefaction when everyone seems to be bored to death, but this is the real thing: Lula and Fernando Henrique will fight for the popular vote without a single new agenda item.

United by the same economic model. All the deceptive promises of change will be worth nothing. The people will not believe it. We will be called on to replace six with half a dozen, in spite of the deep personal differences between the sociologist and the factory worker.

For those of us still hopeful and under the illusory perspective of changes able to halt unemployment, defeat poverty, stop the flow of our wealth to other countries and suspend the revelry of bankers, the proposal is a bridge between zero and nothing at all.

Unless, of course, a third alternative arises, maybe a fourth, and a fifth, which is very doubtful in the eyes of a lot of people, at least in terms of success. Poor Brazil...

The Death of Socialism

Since the nineties we have seen tons of books and master degree theses attempting to explain the end of communism in the former Soviet Union. For some, the original cause was the weakness shown by Mikhail Gorbachev, accused of digging the grave of his own homeland.

Others allege the transformation of socialism into fascism, beginning with the era of Stalin. And there are those who believe in a conspiracy headed by the Pope and the head of the CIA.

Or could it have been the economic prevalence of capitalism? Maybe the bankruptcy of controlled economies? Why not the wearing out of the Soviet population, forced to replace refrigerators with missiles? The technological advancement of the star wars trampling over the opposing superpower?

Again Brazil teaches the world a lesson. It was none of that. Communism went down the drain because of the stupidity of communists who became unable to understand each other.

This is what is happening with the PPS (the extreme Left Partido Popular Socialista—Popular Socialist Party), the old Brazilian Communist Party. It is now a mess. A grouping of megalomaniacs. Or, to be more cruel and less conciliating, a drove of donkeys.

I will not mention any names or even recall episodes that are still in the retina of everyone, the most recent of which took place last week. Keeping the flame of socialism burning couldn't be farther away from the mind of the PPS.

They could not care less about showing that the ideals once predominant in more than half the planet have not died. Or about building a society with no more hunger, destitution or illness.

The older among us still remember the euphoria of the late fifties and early sixties. Communism had put the first artificial satellite in the air and the first man in space. Masses had organized, demanding basic reforms. Even the Church was opening up to liberation.

The world was marching toward socialism, and now, what is left? With the exception of the minuscule PC do B, then a defender of violence and guerrilla war, only the PPS, who now only has desegregation to show for itself. How should we react to the sly realization of the elites that socialism has died? Maybe it did die...

Until When?

The celebration among the well-drilled media about José Dirceu remaining as Chief of Staff following the conversation with Lula should have been disclosed with a fixed term. The correct reading of all this is that Dirceu remains, but only until the results of the elections are known.

After that, it will be the inexorable reform of the cabinet according to who won and who lost. It will be his opportunity to return to his chair in the House and starting stitching his election as Speaker.


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.
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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