Brazil, a Land of Nobles and Serfs

 Brazil, a Land of Nobles 
  and Serfs

"In Brazil, one
population today has medical services as
sophisticated as those of the U.S. and Europe, while another
dies for lack of medical attention. The nobility and the commoners.
We members of Congress address each other as Your Excellency,
and the President lives in the Alvorada Palace."
by: Nelson
Breve and Maurício Hashizume


When he was Minister of Education, Senator Cristovam Buarque from the Federal
District’s Workers’ Party took advantage of a luncheon in the Brazilian Foreign
Ministry’s Itamaraty Palace to ask President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
something that had been bothering him for some time.

Despite the cabinet post
he was occupying, he had still not had the ideal opportunity, during the infrequent
meetings he’d had with the President, to make the following proposal:

"Mr. President, I
want to ask you for a meeting without neckties and without soccer shoes,"
said Cristovam, referring to the fact that the meetings at the Granja do Torto,
the presidential ranch; the Alvorada Palace, the presidential residence; and
the Planalto Palace, the presidential office, are either formal gatherings
where neckties must be worn, or those where soccer shoes must be worn, when
the conversation tends to be limited to the sport.

The President answered
quickly, demonstrating his agility of reasoning. "You can come and play
barefoot," the President changed the subject, wrapping in irony the message
that that type of meeting did not suit him.

Dismissed by the President
by telephone in the ministerial reform five months ago, the ex-Minister always
tells that story to demonstrate the difficulty of having a dialogue within
the government.

"That is symbolic
of his intelligence and symbolic of the affirmation that there are only those
two spaces within the government. Which is bad," was the criticism by
the ex-Governor of the Federal District, formulator and originator of the
Bolsa Escola Program, which innovated the model of transferring revenue to
the country’s needy families.

In this interview, which
was originally given to Brazilian news agency, Agência Carta Maior,
Cristovam relates a good part of what he would have liked—but was not
able— to tell the President personally in these 18 months of his administration.

According to the Workers’
Party (PT) senator, Lula lost the opportunity to administer a "social
shock" at the very beginning of his government. This would have been
done by drawing a part of the revenue from the rich to establish a large program
with the objective of making concrete changes in the lives of 40 million Brazilian
children in the next 15 years.

Despite the time already
lost, he calculates that it is not too late to veer to the left before the
municipal elections are held. It would be enough for the President to take
advantage of the crisis in the approval of the minimum wage to make a pact
with the Congress favoring Brazilian children. Personally, however, Cristovam
has little hope that this will occur. "There is a certain arrogance in
the way that we [of the Left] exercise power."

What did you mean by
emphasizing revolution in the article you wrote for the Folha de S. Paulo
(June 15, 2004 –

It is very simple from
the point of view that Brazil, unlike all the other countries that made a
leap forward, has never in its history made a revolution. Brazil took a step
towards a revolution when it abolished slavery.

Even so, it was an incomplete
revolution because it did not distribute land to the slaves; it did not place
the children of the slaves or of the ex-slaves in school—which was earlier
prohibited. It freed the slaves from the slave quarters but it threw them
into the favelas.

Brazil never made a revolution
in the sense of "every child in school," of "every rural worker
with land," a revolution in the area of healthcare or an urban revolution,
for example.

Lula’s election, as I
see it, was a revolutionary step. But it was revolution in the behavior of
the electorate that, for the first time, had the "audacity" to elect
a worker, someone who came from the lowest strata of the population and who
did not pay tribute to the elite.

Brazil already had presidents
who were poor, but they paid one, two, three, or all three tributes: Either
they became rich; they passed over to the side of the conservatives; or they
attended the university. Three ways to distance yourself from the people.
Lula did not do any of those three things.

What I believe was expected
is that, soon after he took office, Lula would begin to take steps towards
completing the abolition. This is the revolution I say has stagnated since
the time of Princess Isabel. The stagnant revolution is what has not been
completed since the abolition of slavery [in 1888].

I also include completing
the Republic. But, if you do the first, the second will follow. During the
time of the Empire, Brazil had the nobility and the commoners. We threw out
the Emperor and replaced him with a president but kept the nobility and the

Brazil did not create
a people who felt they were equal partners in a national project. For example,
a country where around 15 percent of the population spends an average of 260,000
reais (US$ 84,000) on their education, as we do here. And for the 50 percent
poorest, the State spends 3,200 reais (US$ 1,032), The nobility and the commoners.

One population today has
medical services as sophisticated as those of the United States and Europe,
while another dies for lack of medical attention. The nobility and the commoners.
We members of Congress address each other as "Your Excellency,"
as if we were nobles. We do not call each other "citizen."

The President really is
a metallurgist; yet he lives in the Alvorada "Palace." Where does
the President of the United States live? In the White "House." It
is not the "White Palace." All the Brazilian symbols show that the
Republic has not been completed.

Lula’s role was to "unstagnate"
the revolution, taking the initial steps so that in 10 or 15 years or by 2022,
when we will celebrate the Bicentennial of our Independence, that revolution
could have been complete. But I think that those steps have not yet been taken.
That is why I say that the revolution continues to stagnate.

Could you explain better
what is behind the idea—which sounds a little prejudiced—that the
"Republic of the union members" thinks for the short term because
it has a mentality and not an ideology?

In Brazil we have defined
what "petista" [characteristic of the Workers Party] is.
It is a positive mentality: combative, honest. That is a mentality and not
an ideology. But no one is talking about "petism." Petism does
demand an ideology. In the Left that came before the PT, you had "communist,"
and "communism." Today you do not have a petism; you do not have
an ideology.

If it were a prejudiced
idea, then it was for me also. I am a petista, but I do not have a
beacon illuminated by petism. What is the combination of ideas, of proposals,
of commitments, that petism signifies? This is not clear.

When I speak of the President
and of the nucleus of leaders, I am not criticizing only them. The party’s
directors, of whom I form a part, also are involved in this.

It is possible that individually
each of us has an ideology. But together, we are still guided by a mentality.
Lulism does not yet exist, not like there was a Peronism and like Juscelino
[Kubitschek] created developmentalism. It does not have to be named after

Our government did not
create a new vocabulary. Every revolution and every new ideology creates a
new vocabulary. Juscelino did not only create developmentalism; he created
Brasília. It is a new vocabulary. And he continued creating a portion
of new things like "SUDENE," the Superintendency for the Development
of the Northeast.

Isn’t "social
inclusion" a new vocabulary?

"Social inclusion"
is not only a term of the Workers’ Party. Besides, it is not being done. "Social
inclusion" would be [a new vocabulary] if it became the banner of all
the cabinet ministers. And I told the President that once.

Juscelino was successful
in making all the cabinet ministers feel like soldiers of developmentalism.
All of them. What do all the ministers speak about in common today? Does [Minister
of Development Luiz Fernando] Furlan speak about social inclusion? Is that
Furlan’s banner?

Which other ones have
it as a banner? Does the Minister of Health have monetary stability as a banner?
Because social inclusion demands monetary stability.

One time I said this in
a cabinet meeting. By the way, it was the last one I attended. And this doesn’t
mean that this was the reason I left. Present there were [Finance MinisterAntonio]
Palocci, [Chief of Staff] José Dirceu and the ministers of the social
sector, who numbered twenty-something.

I said, "Mr. President,
if you have a Minister of Education uncommitted to monetary stability, that
is grounds for dismissal. And if you have a Minister of Finance uncommitted
to guaranteeing to put every child in school, that is grounds for dismissal.

Now, you would have to
call the two of them and ask, `To maintain stability and place all the children
in school, will we have schools with air conditioning or under the trees?
Will there be a computer or only pencils?’

But the Minister of Finance
will never feel like a soldier in the universalization of education and a
Minister of Education will never feel like a soldier for monetary stability."
We do not have that conjunction of ideas that would unify all the cabinet

Even Fome Zero [Zero Hunger],
which I say is the only new vocabulary, is so restricted that it cannot be
a project of the nation. It is not a word that encompasses the entire nation.
And even so, it cannot be said that everyone is a part of that. It is a small
program. By the way, it is a project. It is not a new vision of Brazil.

How can you reconcile
that world of ideas with the world of politics?

In the world of ideas
there exists a set of measures that you have to bring to all the national
forces and leaderships: Congress, governors, mayors, business and labor leaders…
Therefore, when I took office as a cabinet minister, I hung up on my wall
and those of all of my secretaries a list of 31 objectives up until the year

With those objectives
you define the means—including there the detailing in laws—and you
are going to negotiate with politics. I spoke here of 2022, didn’t I? Politically,
you are not all of a sudden going to obtain the money to do everything by
2022. It would have to wait until 2050.

In this case, the politics
is easier than in Juscelino’s time. The banner "social inclusion"
is much more acceptable than relocating the capital of the country. It is
much easier for Brazil to spend money on social inclusion today than to convince
the coffee growers to invest in the automobile industry.

It was not easy to convince
the agricultural sector—which was accustomed to exporting its products
and importing what it needed—to buy here in Brazil for two, three, four
times the price. We tend to forget, but when the first Brazilian cars were
manufactured here, they cost two, three, four times the price. It was against
the law to import cars.

Outlawing the importation
of cars must have been very difficult for the members of the Chamber of Deputies
of the epoch to accept. Exchanging their Pontiacs, their Chevrolets with tail
fins and beginning to drive Volkswagen bugs. For the same price. That is what
was difficult: developmentalism was even more difficult than "inclusionism."
Let’s call it that.

Would that be so? Developmentalism
presupposes the growth of wealth for the rich. Inclusion means you will transfer
wealth from the rich to the poor.

First, it was growth of
wealth for the rich but it was for the other rich people. Not those of the
previous rural oligarchy. It was foreign capital. It was the financial sectors
that had the money of the agriculturists. One or another agriculturist changed

The majority of them did
not. And among the rich, there were also serious quarrels. Now, the quarrel
over transferring from the rich to the poor, in the democracy, is going to
demand that the timetable be negotiated.

For example, I am defending
the idea that we would need some 25 billion reais (US$ 8 billion) more per
year to make a great leap in basic and higher education in Brazil. Today we
have nowhere from which to take 25 billion reais, in a democracy, because
people are not going to want to open their wallets. So, begin with 5 billion
reais (US$ 1.6 billion). It sends a message.

So Lula is the predestined
one. Lula is the only guy qualified to convince the rich. First because the
rich are afraid of losing everything with him. When Lula asks for only a part,
they are going to sigh in relief, "Phew! Good! He’s only asking for that."
But this should have been in the first days. Even though he got the elite
vote, the elite was frightened by Lula’s arrival in power, of the Workers’
Party. At that time he had to say, "I’m going to take this."

[As governor of the Federal
District] I took 30 million reais (US$ 9.7 million) per year for the Bolsa
Escola . I stopped constructing bridges. I stopped many public works projects.
The rich population calmly accepted this. And they didn’t stop voting for
me because of this.

And I think that I did
not even lose [reelection] because of the vote of the rich. I lost because
of an illusion of corporative groups. Then, it is acceptable and not that
much money is needed: 2 percent of the national revenue would already be 40
billion reais (US$ 13 billion) more per year to spend for the poor. And then,
yes, to make a complete leap in the abolition of slavery in 10, 15 years.

We are seeing just the
opposite. The newspapers of yesterday and today [June 16 and 17, 2004] say
that the number of millionaires increased and the workers’ power of acquisition
fell. Then, how can this be carried over to politics?

By making a great national
pact, making it acceptable to transfer, not from the rich to the poor, but
from the rich to the government, which would transfer it in services to the
poor. Transferring the monetary revenue from the rich to the poor would not
work because that would not lift the poor out of poverty and would even "irritate"
the rich. If, however, you would channel it to the poor through the government
in the form of services, the rich would benefit.

But is it possible
to do that with the present correlation of forces that compose the government,
which is finding it difficult to maintain the readjustment established for
the minimum wage?

The difficulty in approving
the minimum wage comes from other things. If in the first days of his government
Lula had said that he would keep the name Bolsa Escola and would double its
value… He could have telephoned [former President] Fernando Henrique
and said, "Mr. President, I am going to carry your Bolsa Escola project

Do you think that the
PSDB [the former president’s political party] would remain opposed? How could
the PSDB stay opposed to augmenting the value of the Bolsa Escola? Impossible!
And Fome Zero would already have reached everyone in the first weeks of the
government. Everything was all ready.

My first conflict with
the government, in February [of last year] was when I spoke to the mayors
and also spoke on television, saying that Fome Zero was the greater Bolsa
Escola. To double the Bolsa Escola, it would have cost 20 percent of the money
that was reserved for Fome Zero—300 million reais (US$ 97 million) of
1.5 billion reais (US$ 484 million).

But then Lula should have
said, "I’m going to keep the name, respect President Fernando Henrique’s
`paternity’ and double the value." It could have been multiplied by four.
If you should say that you were going to take FUNDEF [the Fund for Development
and Maintenance of Elementary Teaching and Teaching Development] and transform
it into FUNDEB [the National Fund for Basic Education], do you think that
the PSDB would remain opposed if you made the linkage as continuity?

At my inauguration I called
this "continue forward and turn to the left": continue forward because
we are not going to go backwards. By the way, what I said was, "I am
taking over a ministry that is already on the march. The thing to do now is
step on the accelerator and turn to the left." It would have had support.
It was a question of conversing.

The minimum wage is having
this difficulty in passing here because it was presented as a fait accompli.
I heard a PT senator—and it was not [Paulo] Paim—say: "No one
talked to me beforehand and no one tried to hear my arguments that it could
be R$ 265 so that I could change my mind and agree to R$ 260."

[This was Senator Flávio
Arns, who voted against the government, along with Senator Paulo Paim and
their woman colleague Senator Serys Slhesssanrenko]. The government does not
talk with the Congress.

Take the Council of Economic
and Social Development, for example. In it there is no conversation about
a national project. In it is a conversation of interests—each one wanting
to elaborate upon his or her demands

But is that a problem
only of this government? The base of the previous government also complained
that it was not heard.

Same thing. Maybe even
worse, I don’t know. But it is less justifiable in that government if it wants
to make changes. For you to administer by "continuing" it is not
necessary to converse much. Now, for you to administer by "changing,"
it is necessary to converse a great deal.

It was difficult to approve
the transfer of the capital. To take those guys out of Rio de Janeiro, to
spend a lot of money to build the new capital. And Juscelino succeeded in
doing it. Democratically.

What is the "Brasília"
of Lula?

When I was in the government,
I prepared a document for [Minister of the Secretariat of Communication of
Government and Strategic Management, Luiz] Gushiken, which could be the continuation
of that article "Unstagnate the Revolution." In it I said that Lula’s
legacy, Lula’s "Brasília," would be to change the situation
of Brazilian children. I would choose this. It is an obsession of mine, perhaps.

It is possible for Lula
to say, "I left, in four years, a different situation for the children
of Brazil." From prenatal medical care to the Primeiro Emprego [first
employment] Program. A series of programs that would care for the child at
every phase.

In the same way that Juscelino
needed from 20 to 30 years and only five remained, [these programs] would
need 15 years [to complete the cycle], when those young children who received
services would be finishing high school. But beginning now. Kicking it off
and not stopping.

I defend this. It is clear
that besides that is something else: Brazil making a leap into the society
of knowledge, investing in technology, as Gushiken himself says. And for that
it is necessary to have education, health programs.

I would say that Lula’s
"Brasília" would have to be the child. And for the child,
the public school. And what I presented does not remain generic: It goes from
program to program. It is the letter that I prepared for Gushiken on the 1st
of January [of this year].

I took advantage of the
holiday and wrote that letter. I delivered it on January 4. He even made copies
and distributed it to other cabinet ministers. I know this because some of
them came to tell me.

Like several analysts
of the Left, you maintain that things should have been done precisely at the
beginning of Lula’s government. Isn’t that still possible? How can that "revolution"
be taken up again, including the symbolic and cultural revolution, after having
lost that window of opportunity at the beginning of the government, which
you pointed out?

Without a doubt, there
is still time until the municipal elections. After the municipal elections,
it will only be possible if the PT has won them. And some of the elections
are symbolic: if the PT loses in São Paulo, then I think that there
will be no more time, no there won’t. Why? Because it will appear to be a
reaction to the setback and not done because of a desire to make the change.

Losing the minimum wage,
now that is difficult. But if, before voting on the minimum wage, Lula had
called the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, since the Chamber needs to
get its strokes to change the minimum wage now, and if he had said,

"I made a mistake
when I didn’t listen to you before. I want to apologize for not having discussed
the minimum wage with you and demonstrated the government’s arguments for
not giving more than 260 reais (US$ 84) a month because, obviously, if it
were up to me, I would give more.

"I knew that giving
more would not work, but I made a mistake: not having called all of you to
converse. But now let’s talk about how we can complement that minimum wage."

And then he could present
some sort of project [like the one for the children]. "Let’s make the
revolution that Brazil needs. What I want for you to support is not only the
15 reais (US$ 4.8) more, no it isn’t. I want you to support 100 reais (US$
32) more in the minimum wage. But it is not going towards the minimum wage.
That 100 reais is going to FUNDEB for the running water and plumbing program,
for the Bolsa Família."

To place just one more
child in school, it would cost at least 20 reais (US$ 6.4) more for the minimum
wage. That pays for the snack. That is not what the government is spending,
which is less than this, but it is what it is worth.

To eat a meal, directly,
it costs at least 1 real (32 cents) per day, 20 days a month. He should also
say, "Let’s present this as a victory for those of you in the Congress.
I don’t want it to be my victory. The victory belongs to the Congress."

And that is not done because
there is a certain arrogance in the way that we exercise power. The entire
Left has a little of this. It is so convinced that it is correct that it often
becomes arrogant. And I include myself among those also. It is because of
our mentality.

We are so certain, each
and every one of us, that we are on the side of the people, that we don’t
even give a few strokes to the people and also the members of Congress. I
say that, but in my ministry, I gave a lot of strokes to the Congress, perhaps
because I had just been elected to the Congress and knew that one day one
would return there.

I treated the Congress
well, spent hours and hours in meetings. I met with, I think, about 60 percent
of the members of Congress my first year as minister, some of them many times.

There still is time and
the thing to do is call the Congress and go further than this matter of the
15 reais more. Not with money because it is going to take away from the Pension
Fund and is not going to resolve the problem of the worker in any way.

Let’s go another way.
And Lula is the man who is prepared, who’s ready for this. Perhaps the problem
might be the fact that Lula is so strong in direct contact with the people
that he disdains the intermediary of the Congress. That is a problem of leaders
who are strongly charismatic.

They, in general, think
that they can do without the intermediary of the Congress. Only, according
to the Constitution, it does no good if the people are in favor of something
and the Congress votes against it. It does not become law.

The President can spend
four years without doing things and leave borne upon the shoulders of the
people because of his charisma. And Lula has no right not to leave his mark.
Lula does not have the right to leave borne upon the shoulders of the people
without leaving a mark for the next generations, a legacy.

Besides that, he only
will leave borne upon the shoulders of the people without leaving his mark
if it is in his first term. In eight years no one will pardon him. Four is
already difficult to pardon if it remains merely on the basis of conversation,
of charisma. Eight is impossible on the basis of charisma. Eight is on the
basis of changes.

You use an expression—and
you probably are one of the first government supporters to use it—that
is routinely employed by the opposition, which is "The government had
a project of power, but did not have a project for the future of the country."
Can’t the President take this as disloyal criticism?

They are two different
things here: Whether [the criticism] is or is not disloyal; and whether it
is right or wrong. The President can say, "It’s disloyal to say this
in an article instead of saying it to me." But I’ve already said it within
the realm of the possible. Only there isn’t great space for conversations
within the government.

There was no kind of discussion
in any of the cabinet meetings. The ministers’ meetings were for each minister
to talk about what he or she was doing. I dared to digress from this some
two or three times and I don’t think that I was well received. Lula himself
said, it came out in the newspaper,

"Cristovam comes
here and he talks about other things and not what concerns his ministry."
And, look, I didn’t succeed in talking that much. I had two, three, four meetings.
Maybe not even that many. And also I wasn’t going to talk about other things
when I had to resolve ministry problems.

It isn’t disloyalty in
that sense of having gone to the newspaper because there was no space for
these conversations. And even so I said, "I wrote that letter to Gushiken
and I sent many e-mails to the President by means of his secretary. E-mails
that were very short so as not to take up time that the President doesn’t
have. I even used very big letters because he, like me, needs glasses to read.

We’re so busy we don’t
even have time to put on our glasses. Even thinking about having to put on
our glasses discourages us from reading." I wrote paragraphs in very
large letters so as not to have to use glasses. Then, it was not disloyalty
in that sense.

Now, was it mistaken or
not? I think that it was not mistaken and I began to perceive that at the
start of the government when, in the first dispatches with the head of the
Ministry of Justice, I perceived that there was no space to discuss anything

There was no space for
discussion of a project for Brazil. The discussions went straight to the point,
like that one here [of the Senate]: Is the minimum wage going to pass or not?

When I raised the proposal
of guaranteeing a place for each child on his or her fourth birthday in the
school closest to the child’s home—which is in the program of the government—there
was no discussion of what this would represent from the transformative point
of view of.

The discussion was, "But
that is going to create problems with the mayors because they’re the ones
in charge of the schools and it’s not going to cost the federal government
anything." In truth, it’s not going to cost the mayors anything.

When you place a child
inside the school, he or she will sit on the floor. An hour later a chair
will appear for the child. The snack that’s already there will be shared.
But a month later more portions of snacks will appear.

We would transform necessity
into demand. Necessity is a child on the sidewalk outside the school. Demand
is that child inside the school without a bench to sit on. There
outside, the child is not demanding but in need.

From the beginning I’ve
felt that there was neither space nor interest to discuss projects of the
nation. Except with Gushiken. Gushiken was still trying to discuss something
greater, but he also fell into the managerial line of communication. I think
that the criticism I’m making is not disloyal or mistaken. I might still be
convinced that it is.

On the other hand, even
if I had gone and conversed with the President—and after I left the Ministry
I did not have another contact with him, no one telephoned me, no one called,
except for now when the time has come to vote on the minimum wage, when I
said that I would vote "no" or that I would abstain if there were
no negotiation about administering a social shock and that Palocci was with
me—nothing would have happened anyway.

That lack of dialogue
is bad. Every president has a group of persons, usually critics, with whom
he converses occasionally. All of them. Friends and those who are not such
friends. The business leaders today also very much resent the lack of dialogue
to say what they think.

Recently, an American
woman investor was here who had billions of reais and she did not succeed
in meeting with anyone in the government. Fernando Henrique organized meetings
of that sort that no one knew about, and he received business leaders to converse
in the Alvorada Palace.

Now I think that Lula
cannot just converse with business leaders. He had to also receive other groups.
When was the last time that Lula sat down to converse, not as a president
speaking, but as a president hearing people related to the problems of the
land, of the environment? I don’t remember. I don’t know. Or persons who are
not even of these groups? Persons who think about Brazil.

When was the last time
that Lula sat down calmly, for an entire afternoon—on a weekend or even
on a weekday when he did not go to the Planalto Palace—with Hélio
Jaguaribe, with Cândido Mendes, with Celso Furtado, with Aziz Ab´Saber,
with Antônio Cândido?

It’s necessary. The great
presidents, like [Franklin Delano] Roosevelt [of the USA], had those groups,
different groups, people not concerned with making a good impression, that
are not trying—as we ministers always are, let’s not lie about that—to
come off well with the President.

A cabinet minister has
to come out of a meeting leaving the President happy. If not, his or her office
is up for grabs. The minister feels like he or she is meeting with the boss.
Those people I named would sit down with a person they respect: He is not
their boss; he is the president. Ministers rarely have the nerve to say things
that matter.

What is your objective
with the public criticism of the article?

I believe that the time
has come for the PT to wake up. I wrote the article with the PT reader in
mind; I’m not going to lie to you about that. I thought that what we call
the 800 thousand members of the PT nation who, to my way of thinking, are
keeping quiet. Or abandoning ship. And I do not see them as synchronized with
the PT State.

And I see no future for
"unstagnating the revolution" if it is not through the PT and also
through Lula. But, since the dialogue with Lula is not a simple, easy dialogue,
then I am going to dialogue with the PT. No other party out there is capable
of carrying that banner.

And I even stuck at the
end of the article the idea that if the PT does not carry it forward, another
party will. But, out of all those parties out there, I don’t see any with
that possibility.

What should be the
role of the PT from here on? How should that pressure for change be made,
how should that ideology of "petism" to which you refer be constructed?

A slow process exists:
It is simply to talk, talk, talk… But all that talk will become reality
on two occasions: in the next PT Congress [projected for the beginning of
the coming year] and in the primaries to choose the next candidate for president.

That’s when there will
be a great debate. That’s when the great project of the nation is going to
emerge. Why? Because Lula did not have a primary. The project of the PT, my
project, was Lula. Our project was Lula.

I, in my head, had a project
for Brazil. [Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce, Luiz
Fernando] Furlan had a project for Brazil. [Minister of Agricultural Development
Miguel] Rossetto had a project for Brazil. [Minister of Culture Gilberto]
Gil had his project. But there was not "the" project. What unified
all of us was Lula.

The next candidate for
president will be chosen by means of a debate. Another figure like Lula does
not exist. Not even José Dirceu has unanimity within the PT. The unanimity
within the PT has ended. That is a substantial change.

In 2006, if Lula is candidate
for reelection, it will be difficult to have a primary. But if Lula is not
a candidate in 2006, or, then, in 2010, there will be a primary. And certainly
projects for the nation will emerge then. But I have hopes that this project
will emerge before that.

Led by whom?

Today it has no leader.
Today there are voices. The only PT leader is Lula. If Lula takes it up, it
would be him. That would be great: Lula taking up the banner of every child
in school. Just as, by the way, he took up the banner of Fome Zero.

If instead of Fome Zero,
there were a collection of measures and proposals with a new word, as was
"developmentalism," then there would be no problem. We would all
be with him. If it is not now, it is going to be "no one knows"
instead of "whom?" Even if 2010 is still a long time away. We are
going to have great mayors.

We are talking about
a possible scenario without great frustration…

I am speaking within the
PT. Now, if that candidate who emerges from that discussion is going to win
or not is another problem. If there is frustration, the candidate will not
win. There is no salvation for anyone in the PT if Lula does not succeed.

Any PT member who bets
on Lula failing can put away the necktie and the soccer shoes. His or her
personal project is over. In that case PT members can be elected deputy, senator,
but even a governorship will be difficult.

But, even if Lula should
fail, there will be a great debate. Perhaps the debate will be even greater
within the PT if [the Lula government] does not work out.

Because, if it does
work out, it will be because the debate will have already been conducted,
led by him. Either the commander is Lula or there is no commander yet. And
suddenly it can be a name that no one ever heard spoken before. Six years
is a long time.

Nelson Breve and Maurício Hashizume write for Brazilian news agency
Agência Carta Maior, where this interview appeared originally, in

Cristovam Buarque
– is a Workers’ Party senator for the Federal District.

Translated by Linda
Jerome –

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