Roseana is the major star of the Party of the Liberal Front,
the trump card the party is playing in
the race for the presidency.
Furthermore, she is beautiful and elegant, well spoken,
and attractive on
a television screen. And she is
the only woman in the crowd of starched, male politicians.
The presidential election in Brazil is still a year away, but that does not mean it is on the backburner. In fact, the
country is abuzz with the name of a shining star, which may play a significant role in next year’s presidential election as well as
the next four or even eight years. That star is Roseana Sarney, the governor of the state of Maranhão, and a representative
of PFL (Partido da Frente LiberalParty of the Liberal Front). The next president of Brazil could conceivably be a
womana woman of a well-known political family. Her father was president of the republic, José Sarney, and her brother, José
Sarney Filho, is Minister of the Environment. At this time Brazzil Magazine finds it prudent to take a closer look at this unusual
player in the Brazilian political game.
Roseana Macieira Sarney was born on June 1, 1953 in the home of her maternal grandfather, in São Luís, in Maranhão.
She was 12 when her father was elected governor of Maranhão, which caused the family to move from Rio, where they were
living at the time, to São Luís. In 1968, she participated in the student uprisings in Rio and, in 1970, in her father’s campaign for
Educated in social sciences at the University of Brasília (UnB), Roseana received her master’s degree in political science
in Switzerland. It was in Geneva that she had her first health problems. After an emergency appendectomy at a local
hospital in 1973, she had a number of after-effects that resulted in more operations.
Upon her return to Brazil, Roseana worked for five years at Novacap, the firm, which constructed Brasília, and later at
the Institute of Economic and Social Planning of the Secretariat of Planning. In 1981, she went to work as cabinet advisor of
Senator José Sarney.
Roseana and her husband, Jorge Murad, personal secretary to the president, were considered the most influential
couple of the New Republic. She had greater ascendancy in the political area and he, the economic area. The two, married since
1976, had the power to make or break politicians.
In 1987, they separated, but not for long. Roseana married Carlos Henrique Abreu Mendes in 1989, at the time secretary
of the environment of Rio de Janeiro. But, in 1994, she and Jorge Murad went back to living together and re-married in
1997. Catholic and adoptive mother of Rafaela, Roseana was elected Federal Representative of Maranhão in 1990, with 45,000
votes, the greatest majority in the state.
In 1993, she was investigated by the CPI (Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito do OrçamentoParliamentary
Commission of Inquiry of the Budget) under suspicion of having involvement with the contractor Norberto Odebrecht. The following
year, she was elected governor of Maranhão, in a tight race, defeating Epitácio
Cafeteira of PPR (Partido Progressista
RenovadorProgressive Reform Party). In her government she has promoted an administrative reform in the state, and many
public servants have been dismissed.
In 1997, she encountered a crisis with the Civil Police of Maranhão because of the involvement of a group of police
officers in the massacre of four gunmen accused of killing representative Stênio José Mendonça. Roseana ended up dismissing
the secretary of Justice and Public Safety, Colonel Jair Xeréo. In 1998, her government met with additional problems. Her major social project, an industrial park in Rosário, failed and
was the subject of an investigation of the Federal Justice Department, suspected of bidding fraud.
Despite not being able to campaign in the interior of Maranhão, due to several operations, Roseana was re-elected with
66 percent of the vote for another term in office. After assuming the office for the second time, she pulled off a small administrative revolution. Roseana put an end to
the position of Secretary of State. The 18 people who held that title were substituted with eight "executive managers." In
2000, she was again plagued by health problems. In April, she had surgery for repair of the patella of the right knee, fractured
in a fall. In the month of October she had surgery to remove a nodule in her breast.
The Personal Recollections
Encountered on the internet at www.evirt.com.br/mulher/cap09.htm was this unsigned piece describing Governor Sarney.
"And speaking of a woman of success, nothing simpler than pay homage to a great, distant friend of whom I am very
proud: Roseana Sarney, the first woman governor of Brazil and also the first to govern a state for two administrations.
Our first contact happened in Imperatriz at the house of another great friend and neighbor, Nice Lobão, wife of then
governor Edson Lobão, today senator of Maranhão. The first lady of Maranhão always loved receiving her friends, musicians,
poets, and personalities at the house of her father, then president and today, senator and writer, José Sarney and her mother,
Dona Marly on the beach of Calhau, in São Luís.
A sociologist, Roseana resolved to also involve herself in politics, like her relatives, first as representative, where she
stood out in the National Congress by her elegance and also as the muse for the impeachment of then President Fernando
Collor. Her dynamic performance, culminated with the election to Governor of Maranhão, a charge she has taken on with
Humble, Roseana, in addition to being a person with a public dedication, has not changed her habits because of her
position. She likes to cook her way, principally seafood, and enjoy her familyimpresario, musician, and composer Jorge Murad
and the daughter Rafaela. Also, when she can, she can be found on the beach at Meio in the numerous restaurants that exist
there. She loves music and was raised listening principally to regional songs of Maranhão, which has many admirable talents,
such as Papete, Josias Sobrinho, Chico Maranhão, Sérgio Habibe, Ubiratan Souza, Chico Pipira, César Teixeira, César
Nascimento, Beto Pereira, Jorge Thadeu, Célia Leite, Regina Telles, Gabriel Melônio, Rosa Reis, Roberto Brandão, in the capital and in
the interior Lourival Tavares, Erasmo Dibel, Carlinhos Veloz, Neném Bragança, Zeca Tocantins and Beto (meu) Terra. Many
of those have frequented her house in nightly serenades.
We have much in common in habits and likes. She, like I, loves red clothes, and when she’s not dressed in a blazer for
work, she is in jeans, T-shirt, and sneakers. Roseana was always a person who pursued her dreams with tireless determination.
She always said that she would be governor of Maranhão. She could have used and abused the fame and power her family
wielded, but on the contrary, preferred to study in public school and familiarize herself up close with the problems of the
population. Sensitive, Roseana does not fit the mold of cold and calculating politicians. I say this because I know how much she
suffers seeing someone treated unjustly. She truly loves Maranhão and her people, and her government has been returned to
Many men said they would not vote for her because she was a woman, but she was not discouraged and received the
majority of the vote. Now, in this election for governor, Roseana repeated the feat and had a great showing at the urns. Her
margin of vote was above 60 percent of the electorate proving the preference of more than half of the Maranhense (from
Even when she had to confront several operations, she returned beautiful and complete to the Palácio dos Leões to
fulfill to the letter the wish of the people of Maranhão.
Incidentally, achievements in the Sarney family are not a novelty. The father, José Sarney, is so loved in the
North-Northeast and in most states in the country, that he succeeded in getting elected senator of Maranhão, after having been president."
In Correio Braziliense, on September 6, 2001, you could find the terse, brief announcement about the governor of Maranhão.
"The governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney, accepts presenting her name as pre-candidate for the presidency. In
truth, it is a strategy of PFL to obtain the best conditions to negotiate a good position on the list of government positions
for the succession of Fernando Henrique Cardoso."
The PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático BrasileiroParty of the Brazilian Democratic Movement) would do well
in taking precautions. The PFL has resolved to enter into the race for a key position in the government succeeding FHC. In
a meeting of the National Executive Committee, the current president of the Senate, Edison Lobão (PFL-BA), in the role
of spokesman of the governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney, communicated that she accepts presenting her name as
pre-candidate for the Presidency of the Republic. Roseana made this gesture at the request of the party, which is going to
test the electoral chances of its stars, and she was the one who stood out most distinctly.
At the same time as she put herself at the disposal of the party, she put the brakes on those who thought about
nominating her for the vice presidential slot in a government headed by the PSDB. "No voter asked me to be vice presidential
candidate in any elective contest," responded the governor, who achieved the acceptance of all the
pefelistas (members of the PFL). "Roseana doesn’t accept being second to anybody. And we’re not discussing vice president. We’re talking about
candidate for president, vice president is just adornment," said the president of PFL, Jorge Bornhausen.
In truth, it is not a discourse to be taken literally. What the PFL wants is to place itself advantageously on the list of
government posts, even if that means, ultimately, occupy the vacancy of vice president. First, the party wants to eliminate the PMDB
from the equation, as they have no name thrown into the hat. And the second objective is to demand a definition of the
PSDB. If it (PSDB) wants to head the list, the party has to present a name with real electoral potential. And for that, therefore,
the PFL nominates Roseana: while the Minister of Health, José Serra, withers, Roseana appears well placed in the polls.
Roseana is, thus, the trump card PFL possesses to influence the choice of the future candidate in a government alliance.
It is true that she has been praised by the PFL through an immense exposure in the party’s television programs.
Coincidence or not, the PFL began to break out that strategy when the PSDB began to offer the remote possibility of an alliance
between José Serra, PSDB, and the governor of Pernambuco, Jarbas Vasconcelos, PMDB. But even though some
pefelistas say in conversation that the candidacy of Roseana is a bluff, because she is a candidate practically elected to the Senate, some
treat the proposal seriously, and all count on her name to prepare the game for "making nice" with the party.
The order is to avoid that the PFL ends up isolated, with the PSDB and the PMDB migrating toward candidacies of
opposition or throwing the party into the condition of third in an alliance. Under that angle, the
pefelistas will follow in the primaries in the race for president with the maximum, which the vice-president Marco Maciel defended in the meeting: "She is a good
name, and who has time, is not in a hurry."
At the hour, in which the party has a name like Roseana, it gains strength, for example, to defend its criteria of choice
for government candidate in the presidential succession. At the meeting, Bornhausen defended three criteria.
Primary elections, where any voter who wants to be able to help indicate the name of a member of government; or opinion polls,
for the choice among affiliates; or electoral research. If the criteria go to polls, Bornhausen doubts that any of the PSDB will
be competition for Roseana.
During the meeting of the Executive Commission, a national poll of the Instituto Vox Populi, in which Roseana appears
with the best performance among the presidential hopefuls, she comes up in a virtual dead heat with Ciro Gomes, PPS. Ciro
arrived at 15 percent, Roseana at 14 percent, which Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, PT, is the favorite at 32 percent. The governor of
Minas Gerais, Itamar Franco, PMDB, came in at 9 percent, and the governor of Rio, Anthony Garotinho, PSB, 7 percent, and
the Minister of Health, José Serra, PSDB, 6 percent.
With Roseana out of the equation, the opposition gains ground, a detail that attracted the attention of the PFL. In that
scenario, Lula soared from 32 percent to 38 percent and Ciro from 14 percent to 18 percent, and Itamar from 9 percent to 11 percent.
"She does not transfer votes to the government," says political scientist João Meira, of Vox Populi, who interpreted the poll
to the PFL. Meira remembers that half the leverage of the governor is owed to the party programs. And this exposure will
continue at least for the next months with a third of
pefelista programs showing the image of Roseana. "At least half of those
numbers are due to the work of communication, but those who think the PFL is pulling a candidate from a bag of tricks, is wrong,
because she has characteristics like empathy and charisma, which were fundamental for this contest," affirms Meira.
Vox listened to 2,500 voters in 139 municipalities between the
24th and 25th of August. The margin of error is 2 percent.
One of the most attention getting facts is the second round. If the election were to be held today, nobody would gain on
Lula, but Roseana and Ciro would have a better showing. The governor would achieve 32 percent of the vote and Lula 46
percent. Ciro would have 33 percent and Lula 47 percent. Minister of agriculture, Pedro Malan, would remain with only 10
percent, and Lula would have 57 percent, the worst among the names researched. Serra would have 22 percent and the
petista (of PT, Partido dos Trabalhadores, Labor Party) would have 49 percent.
PSDB (the President’s Party) Candidates: José Serra. The Health Minister is the preferred candidate of the PSDB. His
problem is that he does not surpass 6 percent.
Tasso Jereissati. Like Serra, the governor of Ceará is not taking off. And President Fernando Henrique Cardoso does not
Paulo Renato. The Minister of Education wants the candidacy. But nobody takes him seriously.
Finance Minister Pedro Malan. President Fernando Henrique Cardoso wants him. But nobody takes that seriously.
The PMDB candidate wants to win the convention of the party to compete in the race for vice president on the short
list. Ex-president and Minas Gerais’s governor Itamar Franco is well placed in the polls, but does not have his party’s
support to compete as president.
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. The candidate of the PT (Partido dos TrabalhadoresWorkers’ Party), leading in the polls, is
the adversary to be defeated. This is going his fourth attempt as presidential candidate.
Former Ceará’s governor and former Finance Minister Ciro Gomes. the candidate of PPS (Partido Popular
SocialistaPeople’s Socialist Party) seeks to obtain the support of Leonel Brizola, of PDT (Partido Democrático TrabalhistaWorkers’
Democratic Party) and of Itamar Franco to go face to face with Lula.
Rio’s Governor, Anthony Garotinho, was already the best placed in the polls. Part of the his party the PSB (Partido
Socialista BrasileiroBrazilian Socialist Party) does not support his candidacy.
From the Brazilian website, www.observatoriodaimprensa.com.br, which sees things from a somewhat different point of
view, Chico Bruno has the following to say about the presidential election and Roseana Sarney:
"We are more than a year away from the election, but the Brazilian press, every month, prints the intentions of the voters
for the presidential election of 2002. They are polls requested by industry organizations, such as CNI (National
Confederation of Industry), CNT (National Transportation Confederation), and others, with the exception of Datafolha (which belongs
to newspaper Folha de São Paulo). They, included, already defined that there exist five candidates in the opposition: Lula,
Ciro, Itamar, Garotinho, and Enéas. Since the final candidate still doesn’t exist, the results are innocuous.
Those surveys divulged by the press with pride are serving as a test balloon for dubious interests. If not, we’ll see. The
PFL contracted for a trifle of $102 thousand, according to their own press, heavyweights of Brazilian advertisement to create
and produce three television commercials starring the governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney. Those commercials were and
are being distributed solidly all over the country. A media plan worthy of the launching of a new automobile, by the quality
of the material and the quantity of insertions into TV prime time. The governor is well directed, and her performance in front
of the cameras is very good.
Immediately, the research institutes, by order of the confederations, controlled by politicians of the PFL, placed the
name of Roseana Sarney to be assessed as she confronts the names of the opposition, as a possible candidate of the race. In
the polls she appears with something around 13 or 14 percent, vying for second place with three candidates in opposition
to the government.
The political commentators analyzed the results of the various angles and scenarios, which go from the strength of
PFL’s bargain, to make her candidate or, who knows, vice president, to a possible weakening of the power of ACM (political
boss Antônio Carlos Magalhães, former Bahia senator) in the equation. What no journalist analyzed, unfortunately, was the
use of party electoral advertisement and the polls to sum up the operation unleashed by the PFL to gain importance in the
current political game. All fell into the trap of the PFL and were used. It is hard to understand that the journalists with so many
years on the scene, are so naïve, to the point of not perceiving the tricks played by the Brazilian liberals.
Fortunately, the great majority of the Brazilian electorate is not, at the moment, in a climate of electoral contest, despite
the insistence of the great majority of the press to anticipate the electoral discussion. A great parcel, perhaps the majority of
the Brazilian electorate, is worried about the rationing of energy, the make-up of products, the fall in buying power,
security, unemployment, and with the problems of their cities, caused by mismanagement on the part of state and
municipal governments, as their own research shows. If the voters and the readers are not in a climate of elections, why does the
press insist to such a degree on the subject?
It would be pertinent that the newspapers, magazines, and finally the media would request, through their associations
or syndicates, a poll to learn what the reader wants to read at the moment, something like what TV Globo does to learn
what direction the soap operas should take. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any indication that this will happen.
Please understand, that is not valid for day to day factual happenings. It is valid for knowing why the readers are not
stimulated by the anticipation of the electoral climate, why they don’t enthusiastically take to the streets to demand the ousting of
Jader Barbalho and prison for Maluf, the way they did with ACM and Arruda.
At the same time, principally the newspapers and magazines are going to be spending the energy of their reporters
learning what Lula thinks of Tony Blair, Ciro at a dinner with businessmen and the president of the Republic, Itamar of the
president, and Garotinho of the gospel. Another nuisance is to every day see the inferences that Malan, Serra, Paulo Renato,
Tasso, Aécio, and Alckmin could be the government’s candidate to president and now even Roseana. Declarations, which
once publicized, are subsequently analyzed by the political pundits and echoed by other personalities. A type of journalism,
which was established in the origins of social columns and which the social columnists do not even use anymorethe gossip,
which today is restricted to journalism, dedicated to the private lives of other people, principally of artists. On the contrary,
no newspaper, magazine, television or radio station makes use of sending special envoys to Geneva, Jersey, or Cayman to
delve into the case of Maluf, instead."
Off the Air
In Rio’s daily Jornal do Brasil, there appeared the following:
Jornal Nacional, the prime time news show from TV Globo, was pulled from the air yesterday, in the city of Imperatriz,
in Maranhão, to obstruct the publication of a poll pointing out the advantage of Epitácio Cafeteira, PPR, over Roseana
Sarney, PFL. The Globo affiliate, TV Mirante, of the Sarney family, transmitted the telecast normally. When the segment with poll
results was announced, the station went off the air, impeding the publication in the area of Imperatrizcapable of deciding
the election, with its 500 thousand voters. The rival station, TV Capital, affiliate of Record, however, recorded the segment
and broadcast the numbers: 51 percent for Cafeteira and 39 percent for Roseana.
State representative Aderson Lago, PPR, one of the coordinators of the campaign for Cafeteira, advised later that
this happened. He denounced, also, that Sarney found a formula to cheat the legislation, which keeps him from appearing
with his daughter. According to Lago, the ex president recorded dozens of video tapes and distributed them to municipalities
of the interior, putting the mayors in charge of broadcasting them on small TV stations.
In his appearances, Sarney asks for votes for Roseana and complains, saying that his enemies want to expel him
from Maranhão. Lago says that the images of Sarney fit into the windows of propaganda of the local stations. On the
broadcasts of the large networks, the segments with national announcements appear, but when there is no announcement for the
regional blocks, generally the screen goes dark or is preempted by a vignette. "Several mayors are already seeking out Cafeteira,
saying that they are obligated to interfere in the transmissions, in virtue of the power of the Sarney family.
As governor of Maranhão, Roseana Sarney has changed the face of politics with a restructuring of the government
system. Such a thing alone would not make a difference if the Maranhenses (inhabitants of Maranhão) did not see a difference in
their lives. One project that would bring additional jobs to her state was the establishment of a new branch of the brewery
Schincariol in Caxias, Maranhão. The press was there to cover the event.
Occupying an area of a million square meters, the factory will be the most modern in Latin America and will supply the
entire state and much of the Northeast with beer, soft drinks, and mineral water. The total investment by the brewery in Caxias
will be R$99.7 million.
"With this factory, we open new perspectives and new horizons for Caxias, especially because we are generating 2,000
new jobs, directly and indirectly," declared the governor, who revealed the plaque for the launching of the factory standing
beside the mayor of Caxias, Márcia Marinho, PFL, and the CEO of Schincariol, Nelson Schincariol.
Caxias competed with four other cities in Maranhão for the right to house the Schincariol factory. "What weighed in
the decision was the quality of our water and the facility for access to other cities in the Northeast," emphasized
Congressman Paulo Marinho, PFL. "We have good water, the area at our disposal, and an advantageous locale between two capitals.
Caxias today is giving a boost to the development, inaugurating a new time, in which the perspectives of work and income
certainly will be much improved," said Márcia Marinho, as she signed the agreement between the prefecture of Caxias and the company.
For Governor Sarney, the installation of the factory represents a leap for the development of Caxias and the region. "At
a moment in which Brazil is living in a situation of crisis, the attraction of investments to Maranhão is an important
advance," reiterated the governor. "The government of the State will give all the incentives necessary for the dream of
development of Caxias can be realized," she concluded.
The Schincariol brewery will have the annual capacity to produce 1.5 million hectoliters of beer and draft, in addition to
soft drinks and mineral water. "The construction of this modern factory in Caxias is the proof of growth of our brewery. Of
every 100 beers opened today in Brazil, 10 are from Schincariol," revealed Nelson Schincariol. The new unit of Schincariol will
be inaugurated in December of next year. When the factory starts functioning, it will guarantee the creation of 1,100 new
jobs directly and another 1,000 indirectly.
Roseana is the major star of the PFL, the trump card the party is playing in the race for the presidency. Furthermore, she
is beautiful and elegant, well spoken, and attractive on a television screen. And she is the only woman in the crowd of
starched, male politicians. With her government supported by 88 percent of the population of Maranhão, she is the governor with
the highest rating in the country.
But when questioned whether she would be a candidate to succeed FHC, she becomes more cautious: "I think that there
might be a more advantageous step. First we have to strengthen the PFL, then talk about names." She is often heard
complaining about discrimination against women, the Northeast, the PFL, and her father, Senator José Sarney. Excerpts from an
interview from o Estado de São Paulo
appeared on the website of the PFL.
The PFL is promoting your image heavily in the South. What is the intention of you and the party?
It was the determination of the leadership of the PFL to show the executive side of the party: governors and mayors with
solid approval. Of the six governors of ours, five were reelected and many of the new mayors are well thought of. This face of
the PFL was not very well known.
Then why is it that the themes they tackle are national and not regional?
But they are themes, which are very relevant to the discourse of the PFL as well as my own. The theme of discrimination
against women, for example, is one that I felt on my own skin when I was candidate for the first time, in 1994. According to the
polls, 12 percent of the electorate of Maranhão did not vote for me simply because I’m a woman. The second discrimination is
against the Northeast. I participated in meetings of governors, institutions, and governmental organs, where it was repeated that
the Northeast is the problem area of the country, the backwards part.
The idea that remained with the campaign on TV is that the PFL is promoting you as candidate for the presidency.
The intention of the PFL was not to promote a name for the candidacy but an administrator and a politician, who might
be a woman, and someone who was working out. The idea was to show that the party knows how to govern. There is also a
most violent discrimination against the PFL. I say that I was rewarded because I’m a woman, Northeastern, daughter of José
Sarney, and affiliated with the PFL.
As the highest rated, is your name a natural for the presidency?
I think that is a step further on. First the construction. The first thing that we would want is to strengthen the party, and
then we can’t talk about names. Strengthening the party, certainly, there will be names to choose.
Could you comment, please, if you would be an excellent candidate for vice president on a ticket with the PSDB at the head?
Already, the discrimination begins. Why give the PFL the vice presidency if our numbers look good? It is a form of discrimination.
Woman and the Northeast?
Both. Today the vice presidency for the PFL is outside our thinking, but we don’t know if it will accommodate the political
forces. Like the PSDB, the PFL could very well ally itself with the PMDB.
Do you intend to be more compatible in April of 2002, and then what?
The primary idea is for me to candidate for the Senate. But I will listen to the direction of the party leadership.
If an alliance PSDB-PFL-PMDB succeeds, will the head of the list be the PSDB?
Not necessarily. Could be the PFL or the PMDB. What is necessary is that there really exists an alliance.
What is the assessment you would give of the government of FHC?
It is complicated, but I think he advanced. The stability of the economy is a good conquest. The Law of Fiscal
Responsibility is, too. As to the errors, my father committed the error of creating the Cruzado II, and FHC’s error was regarding the
privatizations. It was wrong to direct the resources of the privatization only to reduce debt. Part of it should have gone to the
infrastructure, because our social debt is very great. But my assessment is more positive than negative.
The Political Phenomenon
The above is a term often used about the governor from Maranhão, woman and North Eastern, who has so enchanted the
country. Therefore, she is being courted by various news organizations to give interviews and opinions.
Cidades do Brasil, found on the Internet at www.cidadesdobrasil.com.br, published another series of questions and answers by the often outspoken
but still very politically conscious Sarney.
Happy with the local polls and with the strong indications for the presidential succession, the governor of Maranhão
contests the label of political phenomenon and refutes it emphatically, "What I am is my work."
Even so, she does not deny the possibility of being a presidential candidate, and with a certain indifference, she affirms, "I
don’t know what the future will bring."
Futurology aside, Roseana Sarney is the first female governor elected and reelected in Brazil and is practicing a
new administrative model in Maranhão, definitively burying an already tired political and administrative structure of the
government, accommodated for many years.
As governor of Maranhão, you have achieved important conquests like the extension of industrial park and investments
in diverse sectors of the economy. You also made substantial changes in the structure of the government. What are the
results of those achievements?
I needed to tidy up the house to make it to my liking. I’m the one who gets things done. Nothing else will do. I’m unveiling
a new manner of governing. In this second term, I decentralized the government and created management units, which are
much closer to the people and who are my representatives right beside me.
Formerly I had 28 secretaries who were here in São Luís, distanced from the state, which is very large. Today I have eight
thematic management units, which formulate policy, and the regional managers who are at the base and execute those policies.
Every month, my managers and I board a bus and travel the state, in an itinerant government, conferring with the lists that
I carry in briefcases corresponding to each one of the 217 municipalities, if the measures were achieved.
Do you think that the run-ins between the PFL and the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso may interfere in the
mission of the president in finding his successor? How do you see the PFL?
In politics nothing is impossible, but today, it would be very difficult. It is more realistic to maintain the alliance with the
three parties, which are the base of support, the PFL, the PSDB, and the PMDB.
Many people want to stamp the PFL as a party of the right, of the bosses. I think nothing of the kind. It is a professional
party, which has ideas and lets its affiliates grow. People discuss and debate. My politics are the worry about the social issues,
with the collectivewhat people generally identified with the left.
To what do you attribute this economic, social, and political crisis the country is going through, and how do we get out of it?
Brazil went through a very difficult time. The social questions were relegated to a second or even a third plane. We have to
defend the stability of the currency at the price of immense sacrifice. The social cost was very high. The social indicators were
Now this is starting to change. I feel that the Federal Government now is more worried about the social questions; for
example, in the area of public safety, it launched a program to help the states. Two areas in which I think that the Federal
Government got it right are education and agrarian reform.
If the government really invests in the social question and in urgent problems such as safety, and if the economy
improves, the employment situation will automatically improve.
Would you be able to identify where Fernando Henrique went wrong?
From my point of view, when he started his second term, he should immediately have initiated the reforms. And he did
not. For me, the most important is political reform, even more important than the tax reform. I, in the first place would
establish political reform and secondly, an administrative reform to speed up the public policies and make public services more efficient.
But early on at the beginning of the second term we had these international crises like Russia, Japan, and the Asian
tigers, which precipitated our own crisis and impeded that advance.
What would be your reform?
Our constitution of 1988 is a bit hybrid. It is partially parliamentarian for a presidential regime. It would be necessary to
adapt and discuss questions like party loyalty and strong partiesestablish norms for national policy. Another important
point is the relationship of the president with the legislative and judiciary powers. If the president is strengthened, that
relationship is stronger. Even as a senator, I will fight to see these political and administrative reforms happen. I think it is just as
important to administer well as to have a good work structure.
Do you believe that Brazil ought to be on the road to a parliamentary democracy?
We are already somewhat parliamentarian. Everything has to be approved in Congress. It is just that Congress
participates in the approvals but not in the planning. There ought to be such a union. The best for Brazil would be a mixed model,
which has a district and majority vote.
The number of feminine voters, this year, has already surpassed the masculine voters. Do you think that this factor may
weigh in an election for the presidency of the Republic? Are taboos and prejudices being torn down?
In reality, people see women as an alternative. In the old days, in meetings of political discussions, for that fact that I’m
a woman, I was an outsider. People would approach me to ask how my family was doing. I felt discriminated against. But
today, no. My opinions are being heard.
The opinion polls in respect to the next candidates for the presidency of the Republic place you in a highlighted
position with indices of as much as 12 percent of the intention of the voters. You were already appointed by vice president
Marco Maciel as a good option of the party for the succession of Fernando Henrique. Do you intend to be the second
representative of Maranhão in the presidency of the Republic?
Since I was already a congresswoman and daughter of the president of the Republic, I have a view of the big picture of
the country. Today I’m not a candidate for president but senator for my state. But I don’t know what will happen in the
future. The municipal elections will be important for the presidential succession, because they constitute the base of any
politician. We are in that process, the first step to a future definition. On the other hand, I can’t say that there aren’t worries about
my health, but I have always overcome those. It is a fact that challenges and strengthens me. I am totally recuperated and
ready to confront any campaign.
Will Roseana Sarney be the next President of Brazil? It is probably unlikely but not impossible. Is she better or even
different because she is a woman? Roseana Sarney is a politicianraised in a political climate and trained in the political
tradition. Politics and sexist prejudices aside, another concern will be her health, which has encountered a variety of problems
over the years. It will be interesting to watch, some of us from a great distance, what happens a year from now when all
Brazilians go to the polls.
Kirsten Weinoldt was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. in 1969. She fell in love with Brazil after seeing
Black Orpheus many years ago and has lived immersed in Brazilian culture ever since. Her e-mail: