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Brazil Lula’s Empty Promises

 Brazil Lula's Empty Promises

By vetoing what had
been accorded, the Brazilian President
demoralizes his leaders and transforms future agreements into
empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress is
treated. Elected on social promises, Lula now distances himself
from the pledges and the trends occurring around the world.
By Cristovam
Buarque

In a recent debate in the United States, a consensus was reached as to the
need of a Social Shock in the Latin-American continent: a set of measures
to confront the social tragedy.

International institutions—including
financial, many of which considered conservative—and so-called rightwing
governments already have realized that the existing social scenario cannot
persist, and that it is possible to bring about change by following the economic
restrictions in place.

That alone would suffice
to explain the sad surprise upon learning of President Lula’s veto to the
meek references of a Social Shock, included in the Statute of Budgetary Policies
(LDO) approved by the Congress.

The government, elected
on social promises, now distances itself from the pledges and the trends occurring
around the world. Trends—in part—inspired by the illusion that Brazil
would carry out such change.

Lula’s victory at the
polls awakened the entire world to the need for social investment to combat
the tragedy of poverty. And this administration, this President, does the
opposite of what he has inspired abroad, vetoing our intentions to do in Brazil
what we have stirred throughout the world.

This creates a Sadness
Shock, in lieu of the anticipated Social Shock.

Yet graver is that the
idea of Social Shock and the terms of its inclusion in the LDO were debated
with administration officials themselves, and its leadership in Congress.

The issues were settled
under an agreement, such as the assurance that Congress would vote in favor
of 260 reais (US$ 87) minimum monthly salary. The initial proposal prepared
by the Senate was more ambitious, and it was brought down as a result of negotiations
with Finance Minister Antonio Palocci and his close advisors. House Leaders
Mercadante and Renan Calheiros witnessed these meetings and this agreement.

By vetoing what had been
accorded, the President demoralizes his leaders and his minister, transforms
future agreements into empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress
is treated. He unlocks a precedent that will make new deals impossible.

This creates a Distrust
Shock, in lieu of the promised Social Shock.

Instead of the Social
Shock from this administration, we have an emotional shock of sadness and
distrust. What remains is the perplexing hope in the possibility that the
President made this decision unaware. Either he was not informed of the agreement
or he did not read the veto he signed.

Sad wish. The truth is
the government is once again postponing campaign pledges and fruits of negotiations
in Congress.

Check out the Social Shock
set of measures proposed by Senator Cristovam Buarque, included in the Statute
of Budgetary Policies, vetoed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

"Art. 119. The Executive
will implement a series of actions entitled "Social Shock for the Protection
of Low Income Citizens", detailed below:

I. I send to Congress
the bill that enables the initial establishment of the Fund for Maintenance
and Development of Basic Education and Appreciation of Education Professionals—FUNDEB—for
the fiscal year of 2005;

II. Submit to Congress
the program to raise in real terms the value of the minimum monthly salary;

III. Speed up the program
Brazil Literate, aimed at ending young and adult illiteracy by the end of
2007;

IV. Increase the execution
of sanitation projects, in order to provide for the employment of—at
least—500,000 workers;

V. Speed up the implementation
of the Family Scholarship Program, in order to benefit, in the short run,
all families in poverty or extreme poverty, as well as intensify the oversight
of the fulfillment of requirements for eligibility in the program, especially
school attendance by participating children;

VI. Accelerate the implementation
of Communal Drugstores, in an effort to have the whole nation covered within
the next three years;

VII. Pick up the pace
in the execution of the Housing Projects Program, to benefit families and
give a boost to job creation for low income citizens;

VIII. Accelerate the implementation
budgetary measures related to land reform;

IX. Increase the number
of towns to benefit from the Family Health Program, setting out as a goal
the expansion of the program to the entire nation by 2007;

X. Promote the increase
of resources from official credit agencies towards funding the Micro-Loans
Program.

XI. Submit to Congress
a specific program, with objective goals and defined tools, to abolish children’s
work and prostitution; and

XII. Speed up the execution
of programs aimed at providing the people access to quality water."


Cristovam Buarque—cristovam@senador.gov.br—has
a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT Senator for the Federal District and was
Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04).

Translated
from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is
a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of
experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and
political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email: eaqus@adelphia.net.

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