Go Back

Brazzil - Politics - September 2004

Brazil Lula's Empty Promises

By vetoing what had been accorded, the Brazilian President
demoralizes his leaders and transforms future agreements into
empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress is
treated. Elected on social promises, Lula now distances himself
from the pledges and the trends occurring around the world.

Cristovam Buarque


Picture In a recent debate in the United States, a consensus was reached as to the need of a Social Shock in the Latin-American continent: a set of measures to confront the social tragedy.

International institutions—including financial, many of which considered conservative—and so-called rightwing governments already have realized that the existing social scenario cannot persist, and that it is possible to bring about change by following the economic restrictions in place.

That alone would suffice to explain the sad surprise upon learning of President Lula's veto to the meek references of a Social Shock, included in the Statute of Budgetary Policies (LDO) approved by the Congress.

The government, elected on social promises, now distances itself from the pledges and the trends occurring around the world. Trends—in part—inspired by the illusion that Brazil would carry out such change.

Lula's victory at the polls awakened the entire world to the need for social investment to combat the tragedy of poverty. And this administration, this President, does the opposite of what he has inspired abroad, vetoing our intentions to do in Brazil what we have stirred throughout the world.

This creates a Sadness Shock, in lieu of the anticipated Social Shock.

Yet graver is that the idea of Social Shock and the terms of its inclusion in the LDO were debated with administration officials themselves, and its leadership in Congress.

The issues were settled under an agreement, such as the assurance that Congress would vote in favor of 260 reais (US$ 87) minimum monthly salary. The initial proposal prepared by the Senate was more ambitious, and it was brought down as a result of negotiations with Finance Minister Antonio Palocci and his close advisors. House Leaders Mercadante and Renan Calheiros witnessed these meetings and this agreement.

By vetoing what had been accorded, the President demoralizes his leaders and his minister, transforms future agreements into empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress is treated. He unlocks a precedent that will make new deals impossible.

This creates a Distrust Shock, in lieu of the promised Social Shock.

Instead of the Social Shock from this administration, we have an emotional shock of sadness and distrust. What remains is the perplexing hope in the possibility that the President made this decision unaware. Either he was not informed of the agreement or he did not read the veto he signed.

Sad wish. The truth is the government is once again postponing campaign pledges and fruits of negotiations in Congress.

Check out the Social Shock set of measures proposed by Senator Cristovam Buarque, included in the Statute of Budgetary Policies, vetoed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

"Art. 119. The Executive will implement a series of actions entitled "Social Shock for the Protection of Low Income Citizens", detailed below:

I. I send to Congress the bill that enables the initial establishment of the Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Education and Appreciation of Education Professionals—FUNDEB—for the fiscal year of 2005;

II. Submit to Congress the program to raise in real terms the value of the minimum monthly salary;

III. Speed up the program Brazil Literate, aimed at ending young and adult illiteracy by the end of 2007;

IV. Increase the execution of sanitation projects, in order to provide for the employment of—at least—500,000 workers;

V. Speed up the implementation of the Family Scholarship Program, in order to benefit, in the short run, all families in poverty or extreme poverty, as well as intensify the oversight of the fulfillment of requirements for eligibility in the program, especially school attendance by participating children;

VI. Accelerate the implementation of Communal Drugstores, in an effort to have the whole nation covered within the next three years;

VII. Pick up the pace in the execution of the Housing Projects Program, to benefit families and give a boost to job creation for low income citizens;

VIII. Accelerate the implementation budgetary measures related to land reform;

IX. Increase the number of towns to benefit from the Family Health Program, setting out as a goal the expansion of the program to the entire nation by 2007;

X. Promote the increase of resources from official credit agencies towards funding the Micro-Loans Program.

XI. Submit to Congress a specific program, with objective goals and defined tools, to abolish children's work and prostitution; and

XII. Speed up the execution of programs aimed at providing the people access to quality water."

Cristovam Buarque—cristovam@senador.gov.br—has a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT Senator for the Federal District and was Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04).
Translated from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email: eaqus@adelphia.net.

Discuss it in our Forum

Send your comments to Brazzil

Anything to say about Brazil or Brazilians? Brazzil
wishes to publish your material. See what to do.