Brazil Lula’s government
will have to take care, less through not
having fulfilled its campaign promises, and more because it was
transformed into a videotape of the previous administration. It is
said in jest, that the first term for Cardoso was good, the second
bad, but the third is even worse. How the fourth will be?
Prevarications, lies, schemes or accommodations are pointless. It is the government
itself which reveals, through the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia
e EstatísticaBrazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics)
and the IPEA (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica AplicadaInstitute
of Applied Economic Research), the existence of 53 million Brazilians at the
poverty line, surviving on half the minimum salary. The monthly minimum wage
in Brazil has just been raised to 260 reais (US$ 87).
Worse yet: of these 22
million are indigent, that is, without a house or fixed occupation. We are
not talking about a regular job, which the others don’t have either. The indigent
don’t even have work. This in a population of 170 million, adding the 12 million
in the active labor pool who already have their work papers signed, or are
entering the market.
This is the piece of data
that those in power did not reveal, whoever they are, preferring to stick
with the deceptive percentages. Now and again the Ministry of Labor, whether
in the government of Fernando Henrique or of Lula, reports that unemployment
is over 10, 12, even 20 percent, but never reports the actual number of the
unemployed, that is those who have worked already or want to work. Now we
know. And now and then we will report it.
The Failure of
the Economic Model
This information would
be enough to give a recipe for the absolute failure of the economic model
which is devastating us, carried over from one administration to the next,
the promises of change notwithstanding. At least Lula’s team ought to know
that neoliberalism concentrates income, in addition, of course, to its diversion
outside of Brazil.
It is of little importance
for the potentates and their partisans that Brazil is being transformed into
an immense favela, since they can retort, with illusory ratiocinations,
that this is the price to be paid for modernity our inclusion in the globalized
world. It isn’t.
The bill goes to the excluded,
on a forced march to barbarism, if things should continue as they are going.
Because without employment, living from what it can scrape together, without
food, dwelling, clothing, health and education, our people have lost the hope
that they fictitiously acquired in the 2002 elections.
There is no way to cross
this barrier, which, instead of being demolished, continues to grow day by
day. Soon, the larger part of the population will be on that side, and let
us not imagine that it will remain inert, amorphous and contemplative.
In the same way, it will
not wait for the results of the only, slow solution presented to it by the
government, that is, that investments in education will someday be able to
raise the living standards for the masses. It is a lie, because poverty and
indigence are growing ever larger.
Lula’s government will
have to take care, less through not having fulfilled its campaign promises,
and more because it was transformed into a videotape of the administration
of his predecessor. It is said in jest, that the first term for Fernando Henrique
Cardoso was good, the second bad, but the third is even worse. Imagine how
the fourth term will be .
The Two Brazils
The word of the day, according
to the pronouncement made by the President of the Republic in the interior
of São Paulo state, is that all of Brazil should show the world the
beautiful things that we possess.
That we should advertise
our natural wonders, and also our export products, vowing that Japan, Germany
and China should increase to ten percent the level of alcohol mixed into their
gasoline. And so, our production would be entirely allocated and we would
have to double it in a few months.
With all due respect,
we need to ask if we are not living in two distinct countries. One, the Brazil
with increasing exports, conquering new markets, with growing agribusiness,
open to foreign tourism and partnerships with other nations.
This is Lula’s Brazil,
fantastic, only benefiting a small minority. Another Brazil exists, where
one finds the majority of the population. It is the Brazil of the minimum
salary readjusted to R$ 260, the Brazil of 55 million indigents who survive
at half the minimum wage, the Brazil of 13 million unemployed.
This is our Brazil, which
voted for Lula out of indignation, in the hope that everything would change.
The problem is that the deck was stacked and Lula’s Brazil came to be the
Brazil of the elites. Our Brazil? Well, our Brazil continues to be where it
always was: at the bottom of the well
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
from the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated by the language
and culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates from Portuguese, Spanish,
French, Italian and German, and is also active as a musician. He is the
librarian for music, modern languages and media at The College of New Jersey.
Comments welcome at email@example.com.