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Brazil: Lula’s Empty Promises

Brazil: Lula's 
                Empty Promises

The Brazilian
people does not need Lula, nor wants him
anymore. The Brazilian President didn’t keep his promises and
business with China, will only enrich friends. The headlines in
Brazil talk about advances. They forgot the existence of 53 million

indigent, 12 million unemployed and 10 million famished.
by: Carlos
Chagas

The story is old, but timely. Alexander the Great, had conquered
the Greek, entered Athens as a conqueror, and was preparing
the invasion of Asia, from which he, in fact, would not return,
in spite of having made himself the conqueror of the known world.

He learned, in the Greek
capital, of the existence of the wisest man alive, ex-lawyer, ex-millionaire,
who had renounced everything and was living in a barrel, on the dock in Piraeus,
enchanting the young people with his teaching.

The potentate approached,
locating himself in front of the opening of what might, charitably, have been
thought to be the door of the wise man’s strange residence. Seeing him
seated, Alexander burst out:

“Ask of me what
you will, for I will give it to you. Palaces, lands, slaves, treasures and
riches never before seen!”

Diogenes raised his eyes
to the master of the world, and answered: “Majesty, takest not from
me that which thou mayest not give.” Alexander suddenly realized that
he was between the sun and Diogenes, who was warming himself on that cold
winter day. He turned his back and left, never to return, conscious of his
pettiness before the profundity of what he had heard.

People Anxious
for Better Days

This episode from the
chronicles of human thought speaks of the reality of Brazil. In full possession
of power, master of Brazil, brilliant guide of the peoples, one of these days
President Lula will seek to know where the people may be found, so that he
can pay homage, as Alexander wanted to pay homage to Diogenes.

And the people, not living
in one, but perhaps a thousand barrels, from Rocinha to Alemão, from
the palafitas of Amazônia to the shacks of the Northeast, from
the periphery of São Paulo to the nooks and crannies of the cerrado
(scrub forest), the people will simply ask Lula not to take from them
that he which he was unable to give.

What is that? The yearning
for better days. The importance of a fair distribution of income. A minimum
salary able to meet necessities. Jobs, so that every one can give his best
for the common work of building a more just society.

In a world, hope, promised
but never made concrete since the beginning of the government. Palaces, lands,
slaves, treasures and riches which the people do not need, nor ask for, continue
to be presented to the courtiers, toadies, to the scoundrels and a whole fauna
of exploiters.

But the warmth of a happy
existence, capable of coming naturally, sufficient for all in its simplicity,
don’t even think about it. Lula interposed himself between the sun and
the barrel. He managed to deny Diogenes his natural desire to warm himself.

The people
does not need Lula, nor wants him anymore. The candidate, infected
by unkept promises, acted only to reward the elites with the
gleam of the swords, lances, and armor used in the conquest
of power. Business with China, billion-dollar investments, partnerships
for the creation of steel plants, ports, and railways, all this
will only serve to enrich friends.

The people
only wants them not to take away the warmth of the sun, that
is, the hope that one day we will be able to warm ourselves
without the arrival of the prince’s shadow, with its promises.
Let Lula go and conquer. Even go to China. But leaving us the
certainty that we will only receive the light of the sun along
with the conquerors of our hopes that they abandon us. That
they no longer take from us that which they cannot give us…

A
Happy Campaign

The government is preparing
to try and turn the tide. On the sly, enormous grants are ready to try to
convince the electorate that in October it ought to vote for its candidates.
The plot begins at the beginning, that is to say, the media campaign is already
under way. Just look at the news reporting on the most important TV networks,
in the magazines and newspapers. They are all fulsome in praise of nothing.

They run
headlines hawking advances and expectations that development
will begin once more. They forgot the existence of 53 million
indigent, 12 million unemployed and 10 million famished.

The press
would rather talk about industrial production, the rise in the
stock market, the praises by the International Monetary Fund
for Brazilian economic policy, about the social programs announced
by the Palácio do Planalto.

They give
the impression that we are living in another world, where all
this is already reality. Money will not be lacking for the candidates
of the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores—Workers’ Party) and
its allied parties in the campaigns for mayor and representative.
In the state capitals, then, they will be playing the symphony
of the victory they anticipate. They could be mistaken…

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 carloschagas@hotmail.com
Translated 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. Comments welcome at querflote@hotmail.com.

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