Brazilian House members
may face the possibility of being sued
and convicted for crimes against the State. After all, they
consciously ignored the Constitution when they approved the new
minimum wage. Only from Houdini could anyone expect the
possibility of a worker surviving with the approved salary.
The explicit self-serving spectacle staged by both ministers and government
leaders in Congress in the last few days gave the Planalto Palace a victory,
with the approval of the provisional remedy bill raising the minimum wage
to 260 reais (US$ 84) per month.
It was a Pyrrhic victory,
though. Even if the Senate confirms the official victory, and this is still
an interrogation mark, one thing will be made very clear to the 40 million
Brazilians who work for the minimum wage: the true face of the PT government.
Which is just like the face shown by both tucanos and liberals during
our eight years under the sociologist.
Nothing less than an administration
that was put in place to serve the bankers, the speculators and the elites
repository of all the benefits, rewards and favors, in contraposition to the
despised and humiliated masses who always have to sacrifice. The majority
of House members who gave their votes to the establishment of this obscene
minimum wage were left with the crumbs from the feast.
A Spectacle of Meanness
One day these House members
will face the possibility of being sued and convicted for crimes against the
State. After all, they consciously ignored the Constitution when they approved
the 260 reais.
The fundamental law of
the land says that the minimum wage must be enough for workers and their families
to afford food, housing, clothing, transportation, education, health and even
recreation. Only from Houdini could anyone expect the possibility of a worker
doing so with what the House of Representatives has decided they should earn.
We do not even need to
mention the promises and threats made to the majority. Ministers knocked on
every politician’s door and used the telephone to ensure the granting of money,
nominations and other gifts for those Congress members willing to vote for
the provisional bill. Or to change his or her vote at the last minute.
At the same time, bearded
and with a forbidding look on his face, the president of the PT, José
Genoíno, threatened with less than enlightened punishment any comrade
willing to insist in voting against the official proposal. He said they would
be treated as oppositionists and, between the lines, suggested the shadow
of expulsion, à la episode affecting senator Heloísa Helena
and three other House members.
There will be a pay back,
no doubt about it. With municipal elections nationalized, it will not be easy
for the PT to keep the mayors of major cities or to win new mayoral races.
It was indeed a Pyrrhic victory because it exposed the bowels of this spectacle
of explicit meanness practiced against those who voted President Lula into
power. It’s time to repeat the old saying, spelled out now in letters of proof:
in Brazil, presidents are elected by the people, but they please the elites,
with rare exceptions.
Mistrust of PT Creeping
Yesterday’s session had
a little of everything. Glowing exhortations favoring the defeat of the provisory
bill from those with little legitimacy to make them in the first place, such
as tucanos and liberals who committed the massacre of the humble in
the past. Clumsy explanations from those who denied their origins and their
consciences. And even irony from those who have been oscillating for years
between the delights of power and the lies of political rallies.
The nation still trusts
President Lula. People imagine that he will soon commit to his campaign promises
and deliver them. But there is a growing number of those who doubt it and
are beginning to suspect that the PT has been like this from the very beginning.
What happened was that it was able to fool the electorate during all the years
when it was opposition, not government.
And it is hardly worth
it to argue that yes, we do have the funds, in public and private coffers,
to raise the minimum wage to 300 or 350 reais. The Previdência Social
system would not break. Municipal governments would survive, as well as
businesses, even if the superavit primário (primary surplus)
were to be lowered.
Or the bankers were to
have to swallow the smallest decrease in their profits. The IMF would shrug
its shoulders, as well as the World Bank. They even reiterate that the Lula
government is exaggerating.
Madam the Ambassador
One thing is more than
for sure, backstage in the municipal elections: the possibility of Marta Suplicy
losing reelection as Mayor of São Paulo, as the polls are indicating
today, will not be a reason to leave her outside of the inner circle who shares
the delights of power.
She has been promised,
in the event of defeat, the embassy of Brazil in Paris. Madam the ambassador
would thus remain in her alternativo (nouveau riche) habitat. And mister
Favre would return to his home country. Nothing like being friends of the
An alternative has been
presented, too. If Marta is unwilling to work full time, she can choose to
head Brazil’s representative office at Unesco, by coincidence also headquartered
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.
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: email@example.com.