Brazil vs. NYT: Will Lula Take Brizola to Court?

 Brazil vs. NYT: Will Lula 
  Take Brizola to Court?

Former Rio governor
Leonel Brizola, in a story signed by all major
newspapers in the country, revealed that he had "unsuccessfully
advised" President Lula to stop drinking. Will the government
annul Brizola’s citizenship? Constitutionally, it can’t. Will
he be indicted for trying to destabilize the government?
by: Carlos


Among all the voices heard during this episode with the New York Times
correspondent, the wisest came from another professional of the press, in
this case our master Hélio Fernandes: "No Brasil, o dia seguinte
sempre consegue ficar um pouquinho pior do que a véspera"
(In Brazil, the day after always manages to be a little worse than the day

What will President Lula
do now that former Rio governor Leonel Brizola, in a story signed by all major
newspapers in the country, revealed having been interviewed by Larry Rohter,
said that the americano "published what everyone already knows"
and recalled being stunned, when he ran in the same slate with Luiz Inácio
Lula da Silva, "with the way in which he used to consume distilled beverages".

And more: "(…)
in a fraternal way, as someone older who had had the opportunity to know the
evils of excessive consumption of drinks, I unsuccessfully advised him (to

Will Planalto annul Brizola’s
citizenship? Constitutionally, it can’t. Next time he returns from his farm
in Uruguay, will the national president of the PDT be stopped from entering
the country? I don’t think so.

The Constitution does
not foresee such scenarios. In modern days, the only time Brazilians were
banished was during the period of the military dictatorship, which was overcome
by the amnesty that reintegrated everyone to public life. How about now? Brizola
ceased to be a Lula ally a long time ago and actually became his opponent.

Will he deserve an indictment
for trying to destabilize the government? Or will he be summoned to court
for defamation crimes? The proof of truth, in such cases, can only be granted
if the maligned party allows it, or if the defamation has been made against
a government official while in office…

Ear-pulling or Guillotine?

Another reprimand was
given by President Lula to his ministers. In public, the nation’s chief pulled
the ears of at least fourteen of them who serve in the Conselho Nacional de
Segurança Alimentar (National Council on Food Safety). The ministers
found themselves called to order for poor attendance at the meetings of that

The President is running
the risk of demoralization if his admonitions have no consequences. There
are only two possible scenarios here: either some ministers do not deserve
to remain ministers and should be fired right away for not fulfilling their
obligations, or the President had not right to admonish them in front of the
television cameras since he did not intend to fire them.

Lula has been way too
tolerant with his team. There has been so much face to face clashing among
ministers that some weeks ago he had to forbid them to attend social gatherings
and to voice public criticism.

When Ricardo Berzoini
announced evil deeds against senior citizens, he was promoted instead of punished
and went from Previdência Social (Social Welfare) to Labor. Amir Lando,
the new Minister of Previdência Social, was left alone to face the onus
of the proposal of more deductions on pensions and retirement checks.

He made it clear that
the idea came from the minister of the Treasury, but nothing happened. José
Dirceu, under close fire from Waldomiro Diniz’s guerilla, extrapolated and
criticized the economic policy several times, but remained as Chief of Staff.

Other examples could be
brought up, all the way to the one about the off-color remarks of the Minister
of Agriculture, Roberto Rodrigues, about the minister of Planning, Guido Mantega.
The President could use some careful attention. The administration may face
a real mess…

Shuffling the Cards

Changes are likely to
happen in the alliances being formed during the run for City Hall in São
Paulo. Launched by the PSDB, José Serra is looking for a sidekick who
can help him win more votes and also run the city for him for two years if
Serra decides to run for President in 2006. People immediately started thinking
of a return of the alliance between tucanos (PSDB members) and liberais

The PFL would provide
the veep: either congressman José Aristodemo Pinotti or senator Romeu
Tuma. If such a hypothesis proves impossible, why not search for an agreement
with PMDB? Would Congressman Michel Temer, already a candidate himself, accept
to be hauled along? Mayor Martha Suplicy has stood irreducible in rejecting
the PMDB in her attempts at reelection. She imposed Rui Falcão, also
from the PT.

Would the concept change
this far into the game? Or would the party directors invest in Luiza Erundina
for her to remove her candidacy? Multiply by all the other candidates the
possibility of cards being shuffled around.

Would Arnaldo Faria de
Sá, PTB, go all the way to the end? Would he support Serra or Martha?
Same thing with Paulinho Pereira da Silva, of the PDT. And what about Paulo
Maluf? Would he play the game of PT, who wants his candidacy, or would he
give up? The cards from São Paulo have rarely been so shuffled as they
are now.

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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