Brazil and the International Monetary Fund are getting a divorce, but that
should be an amicable separation. According to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva, the country will leave the Fund "without screaming and
without fuss," just by not renewing the agreement Brazil has now with
Lula mentioned several
projects that have been undertaken by his government including the construction
of 40,000 houses that should replace stilt houses across the nation. He said
he is confident that Brazil is going to grow this year and grow even more
in 2005. And added: "The worst is behind us. So much so that Brazil will
not sign a new agreement with the IMF."
Lula's announcement occurred
during an interview with TV Globo's prime-time news show Jornal Nacional.
It was the first time the President gave an interview to the media since his
administration was shaken late last month with the revelation that government
aide Waldomiro Diniz had solicited bribes from Rio bookmaker Carlinhos Cachoeira.
The President said that
his government main concern is the unemployment and grumbled that jobs are
the last thing to show up when there is a recovery in the economy. He asked
the Brazilian population to be a little more patient: "You need to calm
down," he told his fellow citizens.
"This is like a housewife
preparing the Christmas dinner. Since the food is taking longer than expected
the kids start to complain. What should she do? Get nervous, leave the kitchen
and let the turkey burn in the oven? No, she has to do her best to prepare
the Christmas dinner. Later, at the table, everyone will praise her."
He never felt better in
life, said Lula, when asked about his health. He also revealed that he is
having 45-minute daily treadmill sessions and that his arterial pressure is
excellent: 11 by 7. The President admitted that he continues to smoke cigarillo
and as every other contrite smoker promised he will soon break the addiction.
While the portrait of
Brazil painted by Lula and his aides has the colorful tones of spring, the
opposition in the country is getting somberer and somberer. Leaders of the
parties opposing the current administration released a document in which they
argue that Brazil is going through a crisis that might become a threat to
The Waldogate episode
mentioned above seems to have worked as a catalyst for the opposition parties,
which include the PSDB (the party from former President Fernando Henrique
Cardoso), the PFL, the PDT, and even some members of the PMDB, which has strong
links to the current administration. Those parties plus the leadership of
Força Sindicalthe second largest Workers' Federation in the countrygot
together in Brasília March 25, to launch the Permanent Forum of Opposition
According to Jorge Bornhausen,
president of the conservative PFL (Partido da Frente LiberalLiberal
Front Party), Brazil is facing a problem of authority. The senator from the
state of Santa Catarina singled out the President as the main culprit: "If
you can give the crisis a name, it is called Lula," he said. "What
we want is that the President rule, exercise his power, participate, act and
not delegate everything."
His remarks were met with
thunderous applause. If he could grade the government, he added, he would
give the Lula administration a -0.2, in a reference to the percentage of the
decline of the Brazilian GDP in 2003.
The united opposition
front promises to become a "permanent forum of consultation and planning
in order to adopt effective measures to fight corruption and ensure jobs."
In a document presented
in the PFL website www.pfl.org.br
the group maintains that Brazil didn't have it that good in years:
"Our exports are growing, there is room for advancement in the multilateral
negotiations. If with all that our economy is contracting this has to do with
a government that is apathetic, confused, without leadership and imagination
or projects, which is letting escape the opportunities for regaining our growth."
The government seems
worried with a soon-to-be-released poll measuring the popularity of the Lula
administration. Chief of Staff, José Dirceu, in a meeting with members
of the governing coalition, suggested that Lula's appeal may be waning among
the "opinion makers" although he is still popular among the masses,
called classes C, D, and E by pollsters.
In an interview with CBN
radio, poll expert Antônio Lavareda, pointed out that Lula might lose
as much as 10 points in the next round of public opinion survey. The next
survey, the highly-respected CNT-Sensus poll, should be released on Monday.