Overseas, President Lula says everything we would love him
to say. He criticizes the rich and
rebels against the customs
barriers imposed on our exports. Back home he surrenders
most humiliating demands from the international financial
system. When he grants wage raises, the
raises are ridiculous.
It’s a fact and I don’t mean it grudgingly: the Lula administration remains just like the Fernando Henrique
administration. For example, let’s take the President’s performance when he travels abroad. When he is out of the country, Lula says
everything we would love him to say here. He criticizes the protectionism of rich countries towards their agricultural
production, rebels against the customs barriers imposed on our exports, exhorts the powerful to accept the rules they
themselves create and claims for a global fight against destitution, hunger and disease.
What Lula did in New York as well as Antônio Palocci in Dubai, is precisely what Fernando Henrique Cardoso and
Pedro Malan did last year in the same United Nations auditorium and at the meeting of the World Trade Organization in
Londonto mention just two examples.
Applause and glad tidings would be eternally due to all four, if not for a subtle overlooked detail. When back in
Brazil, all of them practice the opposite of what they preach. All exhortations are forgotten and there is no continuity to
proposals made abroad.
At home, they surrender to the most malapropos and humiliating demands from the international financial system.
Via BNDES, they turn on the Treasury’s spigots to either rescue broken banks or prevent privatized electric utilities from
going bankrupt. They don’t hesitate to allow abusive increases in the prices of public services, to raise taxes and to suppress
social rights. When they grant wage raises, the raises are ridiculous.
It is now proved that this strategy never works. What better proof than the election of our current President? During
his campaign, Lula promised to change everything his predecessor did. He was elected because of the alternatives he
would introduce. None were introduced and the results are there for all to see. Everyone is confused about names: was
Fernando Inácio da Silva Cardoso our last President? Is the current one called Luis Henrique Lula Cardoso da Silva? It doesn’t
really matter, actually…
Bicudo e Pinotti demand respect
The group of public figures above any suspicion, those in which the highest virtues and almost no vices are
recognized, is getting smaller and smaller these days. Hélio Bicudo, who served several times as a
deputado federal for the PT in the House of Representatives and currently vice-mayor of São Paulo, is definitely in that select group. He doesn’t,
therefore, deserve what they are trying to do with him. With Martha Suplicy running for reelection, there is no reason to push Dr.
Hélio aside or to stitch this strange alliance with PMDB.
Another politician of equal respectability, physician José Aristodemo Pinotti, is the other actor in this scenario.
Pinotti is the PMDB candidate for mayor of São Paulo and has all the necessary qualifications to run for that office. To imagine
him as vice-mayor for ‘Madame Favre’ is nothing short of disrespect.
PT has everything it needs to stay at the helm of the São Paulo state capital. We can say the same for PMDB and the
mayor’s office. All we need is to remember the administrations of Luíza Erundina and Mário Covas, in the not so recent past.
What is unacceptable, though, is a conspiracy that begins with the pushing aside of one of the most serious-minded politicians
the state has ever had and ends with the humiliation of another one of equal caliber. Keeping the PT in power may be
important, but it is not worth all this…
Playing with Fire
The Planalto Palace has been playing with fire on the issue of tax reform. There is no more doubt that the
government’s bill will pass the second round in the House. When it gets to the Senate, however, it will be a crisis waiting to happen.
There is no way that the text, as it is written, will be accepted by the governors in the North and Northeast. It is another
example of the violence perpetrated in favor of the more developed states in Brazil.
It is erroneous to suppose that the leaderships in the less developed states are feeling divided and perplexed. Last
weekend alone added significantly to the profit of the nation’s telephone companies because all the governors called back and
forth to each other several times. They are mobilizing their State Senators who will, save very rare exceptions, show a united
front in defense of regional interests.
For the congressional blocs representing the Northern and Northeastern states, the passing of the government’s bill
will amount to treason on the part of those who voted for it. For these senators, voting for tax reform as it is now drafted will
mean a farewell to public service.
There are no marches, rallies or war declarations planned for the halls of the National Congress, but the North and
Northeast blocs are much more united than most people would think. Either the federal government concedes and allows for
compensation to states located in these regions or it will harvest an Olympian defeat.
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
This article appeared originally in Tribuna da
Imprensa – http://www.tribuna.inf.br
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:
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