party, the PT, covered up its historic radicalism during
Brazil’s presidential campaign with world-class marketing.
Once in office, the PT was able to pacify Wall Street while
giving itself cover to gradually re-nationalize formerly privatized
assets. This strategy has worked brilliantly, so far.
If President Bush
and Brazil’s leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva hold a planned cabinet-level
summit this year, one thing is for sure: it won’t happen in Rio de Janeiro.
Fernando Gusmão, a City Councilman affiliated with Brazil’s Communist
Party recently sponsored and passed a bill declaring Bush "persona
non grata" in Rio.
In fact, anti-American
sentiment has grown so high in Brazil that President Bush received a lower
approval rating among Brazilians than Saddam Hussein in an opinion poll
conducted during the war in Iraq by the respected IBOPE Institute. This
phenomenon has some relation to the Brazilian Workers’ Party (known as
the PT) regime’s attitudes towards the US.
While Brazil’s new
socialist government has drawn applause from the IMF and financial circles
for continuing former President Cardoso’s orthodox economic policies in
order to maintain bond and currency market stability, it has adopted an
aggressive and nationalistic foreign policy clearly based on PT doctrine.
It is important to underscore that Brazil’s Itamaraty (Foreign Ministry)
has a well-deserved reputation for professionalism and has produced brilliant
liberal statesmen such as Ambassadors José Guilherme Merquior,
Roberto Campos and Meira Penna.
The causes for concern
regarding Brazil’s foreign policy are in the Palácio do Planalto
(Presidential Palace), namely with President Lula’s Foreign Policy Advisor,
Marco Aurelio Garcia, a hard-line Marxist operative. Garcia is a founder
and executive secretary of the São Paulo Forum, an organization
of leftist parties and revolutionary movements dedicated to "offsetting
our losses in Eastern Europe with our victories in Latin America".
Marco Aurelio Garcia’s
views deserve to be studied by anyone concerned with the future of US-Brazilian
relations, especially given his demonstrated influence on Lula’s foreign
policy. One can get a glimpse of his thinking from ideas like "We
have to first give the impression that we are democrats, initially, we
have to accept certain things. But that won’t last." Garcia
has described his party, the PT, as "radical, of the left, socialist."
And, in an article that he published in 2001 celebrating The Communist
Manifesto by Karl Marx, he concluded that: "The agenda is clear.
If this new horizon, which we search for is still called communism, it
is time to re-constitute it."
As a country of "haves
and have-nots", Marxism has a traditionally strong following among
Brazil’s intellectuals. Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci’s articles
are particularly influential in PT circles given his recipes for achieving
revolutionary goals while placating business interests and the middle
class. The PT covered up its historic radicalism during Brazil’s 2002
Presidential election campaign with world-class marketing. Once in office,
the PT has achieved the dual purpose of pacifying Wall Street while giving
itself cover to gradually re-nationalize formerly privatized assets purchased
by US companies such as the Eletropaulo electric utility.
The PT’s strategy
has worked brilliantly, so far. While some US foreign affairs experts
have complained that the Bush administration’s ad hoc Latin America policy
lost Brazil, an erstwhile strategic ally and one of the world’s largest
economies, such concerns were largely ignored while the US Government
focused on the Iraqi crisis. Curiously enough, Clinton Administration
holdovers such as White House National Security Advisor John Maisto seemed
to be calling many of the shots on Brazil policy. Is Brazil’s foreign
policy under Lula cause for concern? The facts speak for themselves.
Since President Lula’s
regime took office on January 1st, Brazil’s government went
back and forth on abandoning the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and
building nuclear weapons; back and forth on offering exile to Saddam Hussein;
refused the Colombian government’s request to consider the FARC terrorists;
shored up President Hugo Chavez with oil shipments during the height of
Venezuelan opposition’s strike; declared a "strategic partnership"
with Communist China; abandoned scientific cooperation agreements with
the US; appointed a self-defined Trotskyite and a Communist party leader
as Cabinet Ministers; repeatedly compared the FTAA (Free Trade Area of
the Americas) process to "US Annexation"; vocally supported
France’s anti-war efforts; lobbied Chile to vote against the US on the
UN Security Council and abstained from condemning Castro’s crackdown on
dissidents at the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.
All of this begs the
question, does anyone in Washington still believe Brazil’s Socialist
President deserves the "benefit of the doubt"? US Ambassador
to Brazil Donna Hrinak, a career diplomat, seems to think so. The daughter
of a Pittsburgh steelworker, Ambassador Hrinak’s sympathies for the PT
are so notorious that the running joke in Brasília (Brazil’s capital)
was to ask whether she would show up at Lula’s inauguration in a red dress.
In what can perhaps
be best described as an acute case of what diplomats call "localitis",
Ambassador Hrinak publicly applauded the global anti-war movement and
agreed to meet with Iraq’s Ambassador in Brasília at the PT’s suggestion,
just weeks before US Secretary of State Colin Powell requested that all
countries expel Saddam Hussein’s diplomats.
In a decision that
is likely to generate controversy back home, Ambassador Hrinak recommended
the US Government provide financial assistance to Lula’s flagship "Fome
Zero" (Hunger Zero) social assistance program even though the PT
picked a clearly anti-American slogan for the program specifically, "A
nossa Guerra é contra a Fome" (Our war is against hunger).
TV ads sponsored by the PT and its allied parties such as the PC do B
(Brazilian Communist Party) and PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) harshly
attacked President Bush for his position on Iraq. Amazingly, these attack
ads generated no public response from Ambassador Hrinak.
Richard Nixon famously
remarked, "As goes Brazil, so goes Latin America". Perhaps he
was right. Lula’s brand of socialism is becoming a role model for the
entire region. Analysts consider Nestor Kirchner’s Presidential election
victory in Argentina a boon to Mercosul (the customs union between Brazil,
Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay) and a serious setback for the FTAA (Free
Trade Area of the Americas) negotiations with the US.
In fact, the entire
South American continent may be getting off the train. Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez has announced he is not going to resign peacefully; Rebel
leader Evo Morales may stage a coup or at least keep destabilizing the
Bolivian government; FARC and ELN narco-terrorists are besieging Colombia’s
government; and leftist regimes are in power in Chile, Ecuador and spreading
Fidel Castro’s wildest
revolutionary ambitions are being fulfilled right under the nose of the
Bush administration. As Castro once said, "The US can’t attack us
if the rest of Latin America is in flames." It’s time to put out
the fire and restore faith in free markets and democracy in the Americas.
is Brazilian-American and was a candidate for Federal Deputy (Congress)
in Brazil last year. The author welcomes comments at email@example.com