Brazil Is Bleeding Money and Ideas

 Brazil Is Bleeding Money 
  and Ideas

Anyone can see now
that Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT)
administration had no alternatives, never had a development
plan and deliberately frustrated the electorate. The Brazilian
people themselves will soon conclude that there is no
way to overcome our hardships. No democratic way, at least.
by: Carlos


It’s the point of no return: both inside and outside the government, everyone
is talking about the need to transform our economic model. The transformation
should not be traumatic; on the contrary, it should be an acceptance of change
as a consequence, with no criticism or condemnation of the authors of the
current model. Most people even agree with keeping Palocci and his team in
place, as long as they are able to bring the desired changes.

Time to change

Most of the ministers
agree with what has been done so far as necessary measures, in spite of their
bitter taste. Recession, contingencies, wage freezing, growing unemployment,
an inordinate increase in utility fees, the lack of investments in infrastructure,
the priority given to the payment of the interest in our foreign and public
debts and the privileges granted to the financial sector—all this was
necessary in the initial phases, just as it was necessary during the FHC administration,
for the country’s survival.

It is now fashionable
to say that, had we not accepted those things as necessary, inflation would
have reached catastrophic proportions, the dollar would have reached the stratosphere
and the `Brazil risk’ would have been multiplied and stopped the flow of foreign
investments. At least these threats were threats from abroad.

The time for change has
arrived. It is time to curb the permanent exodus of ideas and money that marked
the first year of the Lula administration. We don’t even need to remind anyone
that Brazil has religiously met its deadlines on debt interest payments—US$
137 billion on our public debt and US$ 97 billion on our foreign debt.

Our technocrats started
exporting models that used to be imported. Failure to recognize that the time
has arrived is more than a crime: it is true stupidity. Our problem is not
our inability to change the model, but our fear of the kind of change that
will lead us to an even worse situation brought on by international forces.

Anyone can see now that
the PT administration had no alternatives, never had a development plan and
deliberately frustrated the electorate.

Even more serious is the
fact that the Brazilian people themselves will soon conclude that there is
no way to overcome our hardships. No democratic way, at least. This opens
a huge interrogation mark about what to do next.

Should we definitively
submit to the cruel model that leaves the nation in tatters? Or should we
start adopting measures to prevent the frustration (the result of our brief
hope) turning into indignation?

Scratched Authority

The government resorts
to its same clumsy way of explaining its failures: the press is to blame.
Luiz Gushiken, Social Communications minister, has attributed to newspapers
the attack launched by the Agriculture minister on the Planning minister.

He declared himself willing
to "eliminate errors posted in the press". Okay, maybe Roberto Rodrigues
called Guido Mantega "vaga-lume" (firefly) instead of "vagabundo"
(a bum), or will someone tell me that "PQP" now means "ponte
que o partiu"?

Likewise, Minister José
Dirceu rose up against a reporter who had asked him if he had met or known
one of these vile wretches accused of theft. Who is the bad guy here—the
journalist who asked the question or the advisor who committed betrayal?

Every week the government
announces: from now on everything will be different. No more personal attacks
among ministers and no more public criticism of economic policy. But the situation
never changes.

President Lula must regret
having refused minister Dirceu’s request to be removed soon after the eruption
of the Waldomiro Diniz scandal. He is probably also sorry he didn’t follow
the example of Itamar Franco, who fired ministers in big trouble.

The head of the government
must have his reasons for not messing up the team who has, in his own view,
behaved very well so far. However, he will not be able to undo the impression
that he lacks the authority to handle episodes such as these. At the end of
the day, he is the loser.

A Million a Day

Testifying before the
Senate, the president of Caixa Econômica Federal said that the country
pays R$ 1 million (US$ 322 thousand) per day to Gtech, a U.S. company hired
to manage our lotteries. He also mentioned the contract, which is valid for
25 months. What very few people remember is that those services, until the
FHC administration, were performed by Caixa itself, and very efficiently.

Then they decided to privatize
it and the scandal erupted. Add the shady business of all the privatizations,
mix it with the outsourcing mania and you have the recipe for some of the
worst damages ever suffered by the government.

Even worse: nobody went
and nobody will go to jail. Poorly explained agreements between successive
administrations and predator groups, both domestic and foreign, are responsible
for our transformation into a "Casa da Mãe Joana"
(a free-for-all state of affairs), a paradise for predators and malandros
(crafty loafers).

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

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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