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Brazzil - Politics - March 2004

The Thieves Are Running Brazil

The attitude of President Lula is the same of a betrayed husband
who removes the couch from the living-room in order to avoid the
adultery. It is interesting to note that Lula, with all his talk about
the cursed inheritance, has not yet blamed former President
Cardoso for the earthquake jolting Brasília these days.

Janer Cristaldo

It is general knowledge that the PT has its roots in that other party who no longer dares to utter its own name. Everybody also knows that the party who no longer dares to say its name has its origins in that 19th century philosophy that says the ends justify the means.

Considering that the virtual prime-minister of our government (chief of staff José Dirceu) is a former guerrilla member who went to Cuba to specialize in democracy-demolishing techniques and sees in Fidel Castro a hero, nothing happening in Planalto today should be a surprise.

A good portion of the administration is made of personnel who were—and some still are—communist. Which means those brave humanists to whom killing and robbing are perfectly ethical activities, provided that the murdering and the pillage are done to serve the revolution. No difference from guerilla philosophy, and José Dirceu was a guerrilla member himself.

When I talk about communists, there are always those who ask me: `are you one of those who see communists even under the bed?' No, I'm not, and never have been.

Actually, if you look under the bed today, you won't find any communists, because these days they occupy some curule in Brasília. The century past has amply taught us that you can expect anything from a Marxist or his heirs, except honesty. It's no accident that the other three ministers involved in the recent Waterfallgate scandal (remember bookmaker Cachoeira = waterfall), Tarso Genro, Olívio Dutra and Agnelo Queiroz, are also old apparatchiks who rose from Marxism.

Given the fact that these four gentlemen are not the only Stalin widows to occupy positions in the government, it is obvious that we are still in for magnificent scandals. If Charlie Waterfall—as he is called by the American press—has corrupted the high echelon of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul, it would be naïve to imagine that the rich political market of São Paulo, for example, would remain immune to the bribes of jogo do bicho (numbers game) or bingo.

It's a fun political moment. Recently, the government submitted a proposal to regulate bingo, vehemently prohibited the game. Vehemence, ignorance and lack of skill. By signing a provisory measure prohibiting bingo, the Executive trips over the Judiciary, who has until now granted preliminary injunctions for game houses to operate.

The intention may be good, but it is a totalitarian intention. On the other hand, Lula is redundant. If bingos only operated by force of injunctions, it's because previous legislation forbade them. Something like: look, that law didn't catch on, let's reedit it to see if it works.

For PT Executive, a judicial sentence and toilet paper are more or less the same thing. The impression given by the government is that Brasília doesn't have a single pettifogger with the most basic notion of juridical hierarchies or the division of powers inherent to a democracy. Either that or we are left with one single last hypothesis: the PT still has not learned to deal with the mechanisms of the rule of law. Long is the journey of a communossaur on its path to democracy.

The attitude of the head of the government is the same of a betrayed husband who removes the couch from the living-room in order to avoid the adultery. It is interesting to note that Lula, with all his talk about the cursed inheritance, has not yet blamed former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso for the earthquake jolting the Planalto these days.

Bingo is already legal under the so-called Zico Law and was definitively regulated by law 9.615 of March 25th, 1998, signed by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Íris Rezende, Pedro Malan, Paulo Renato Souza, Paulo Paiva, Reinhold Stephanes... and Édson Arantes do Nascimento (Pelé).

The law bears the name of its author, Pelé, who used the occasion to also regulate slot machines. Which means that the splash of the palace scandals spare no one, not even one of the heroes of pátria amada, salve, salve! [beloved homeland—from the national anthem.]

As if the brusque change in attitude on the part of the government were not enough we also saw the rise of yet a third position. Justice Minister, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, declares to newspapers that bingo must be put under state control. Desperate, the men who represent an administration which is supposed to be a ground zero in national politics move around like dizzy insects. The "statesman" who wanted to end hunger in the world cannot even manage a crisis provoked by a bicheiro (bookmaker).

An Ethical Puzzle

In its attempt to defend the indefensible, the government put itself behind the trenches of a festival of sophisms. As the PT president, José Genoíno, used to say, the facts in question happened in 2002, therefore they have nothing to do with this administration. This statement means that he considers perfectly ethical to have as a high level consultant a crook with a solidly crooked résumé, as long as all the malfeasance has been conducted before the consultant was hired.

It's as if a Messalina, once anointed by the power in charge, became a Vestal on the very next day. Even worse: a week after the accusation was made, the news spread that in 2003, soon after his hiring by the administration, this presidential advisor was already having meetings with bicheiros in Brasília.

As a Quixote who saw two princesses in two whores, Genoíno comes to the counterattack: "There is no evidence that the meeting between the former Planalto consultant Waldomiro Diniz, bicheiro Carlinhos Cachoeira and two directors of the Gtech company, which took place in January 6th, 2003, resulted in any irregularities". For him, the fact that a meeting took place does not imply the occurrence of any irregularity.

As observed by an internetic friend of mine, it's like someone scheduling a meeting in a motel room with two prostitutes and a transvestite and, after a few months, showing to his wife a photo of all four in the motel room with all their clothes on. "The fact that this photo was taken with two prostitutes and a transvestite in a motel room does not mean that any irregularity took place". With defenders such as these, the government can even waive the accusation.

In the middle of this festival of lame excuses, the most outrageous and original one, introduced by Attorney General, Cláudio Fontelles, was left unnoticed. For him, the scandalous collection of bribes involving Waldomiro Diniz, former deputy chief of Congress Affairs for the President and former consultant to minister José Dirceu, is a "normal thing for a human being". After all, "all of us have a dark side". Considering the source, it's an interesting opinion, to say the least.

"We all have our shady side, which I call dark. This is a normal side of political parties, associations, even families themselves. It's part of life. What we must do is to fight this type of behavior, when these people let this side of themselves come out," said the attorney-general.

I suppose that when he talks about his dark side, the man is talking about breaking the law. I also suppose that the attorney-general is talking about himself. Well, the world is full of people with no shady side whatsoever, who have never bribed, extorted or defaulted on anyone.

Some of them due to sheer lack of opportunity, perhaps—after all, not everyone can have a dark side that allows them to pocket millions of reais. Most mortal human beings can only afford a small and mediocre dark side allowing them to make a few cents a day, at the most, to help with daily survival.

It is normal in the midst of political scandals for the people involved to exchange accusations in order to defend their own skin. The minute the country heard about the recordings of the palace advisor extorting percentages from bicheiro Cachoeira, the national president of the PT called the media to inform that the whole thing was the working of José Serra, the candidate who was defeated in the last elections.

The truth of this matter actually doesn't matter. The identity of the author changes nothing because the content of the recording is still the same. When José Vicente Brizola revealed to the public the machinations of the gaúcho (from Rio Grande do Sul) PT government also involved up to its neck with gambling, the same José Genoíno erupted into the field with knife and sword to accuse the accuser and to call him bitter.

It's like the spirit of old Stalin incorporated into the former petista guerrilla man: first you demoralize your opponent, then you discuss the merits of the issue. It doesn't matter if he was bitter or not. The authorship of the accusation does not alter its contents.

Mutual accusations will multiply with the appearance of new data. Nothing new there. What is unique in this Waterfallgate is to witness a federal attorney accusing the nature of human beings as the main defendant in the case of the misdeeds of PT.

By stating that everyone has a dark side, the attorney-general is insulting a good portion of humanity. Worse still, he is accusing the best portion of humanity, the one who is not featured in the front pages of newspapers. After all, honesty has never generated headlines. That is precisely why PT is making the front pages.

For less than that, Nixon had to resign. Or have we all forgotten Watergate? For a lot less than that, Collor was impeached. Using his cheap metaphors, Lula has stated that a child needs nine months to be born. Well, the child is born... and nothing happened. Then the President went back to his metaphors: the child needs a few months to learn how to walk. Fourteen months in power was all we needed for the revelation of the true nature of the brigands who took charge of the government, preaching the opposite of what they are doing today.

The child is here: fat, robust, corrupt... and walking.

Janer Cristaldo—he holds a PhD from University of Paris, Sorbonne—is an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail address is cristal@baguete.com.br
Translated by Arlindo Silva.

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