As expected the PFL (Partido da Frente LiberalLiberal
Front Party) got the lion’s share with Antônio Carlos Magalhães, president of the Senate
and the PFL leader being able to keep his protégés Rodolfo Tourinho (Mines and Energy)
and Waldeck Ornelas (Social Security) in their posts.
By Émerson Luís
Whoever expected radical changes in the Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s second four-year
term was bitterly disappointed. Maybe Cardoso once dreamed of a cabinet that would mirror
the social theories favoring the less privileged he concocted in the past. Faced with
reality, however, and increasingly pressured by his more practical (some would say
cynical) side, polyglot, sociologist, former theoretician for the left, President Cardoso
in forming his new cabinet seemed resigned to political arrangements that would guarantee
him the votes in the legislative mainly to secure a fiscal plan that would make possible
an International Monetary Fund loan.
He ended up acting more like a prime minister distributing posts as if taking bids from
the parties who offered or threatened him most. There were very few changes. Nineteen of
23 ministers from his first term of office were kept. The operational control of the
government was also kept under Clóvis Carvalho, the Palácio da Alvorada’s chief of
staff. Despite the creation of the Production Ministry renamed to Development, Industry
and Commerce and given to respected intellectual, Celso Lafer, there is no hint there will
be any change in the political or economic path.
Cardoso has threatened to fire those ministers whose parties do not align with the
government in Congress when there are crucial matter being voted. But he cannot hide the
fact that he had to swallow some frogs, as the expression goes in Brazil, to line up his
cabinet. Even before the carping started coming in from his critics, Cardoso conceded,
"In a complex society like the Brazilian, you cannot advance without a system of
alliances, which sometimes might even be contradictory."
Buried is the dream of a new economic model. Cardoso once planned to have his friend
and Communications Minister Sérgio Motta leading the newly-created Development, Industry
and Commerce Ministry. With the death of Motta in April of 1998, Luiz Carlos Mendonça de
Barros, the new Communications minister became the heir apparent to the post. But this was
before the November 1998 scandal in which Mendonça de Barros was caught in tape candidly
talking on the phone about his preferences on the Telebrás (the state-owned telephone
holding company) privatization auction.
As expected the PFL (Partido da Frente LiberalLiberal Front Party) got the lion’s
share with Antônio Carlos Magalhães, president of the Senate and the PFL leader being
able to keep his protégés Rodolfo Tourinho (Mines and Energy) and Waldeck Ornelas
(Social Security) in their posts. They are both from Bahia, homestate of Magalhães. The
Ministry of Sport and Tourism was created to admit PFL Representative Rafael Grecca from
Paraná. There was also the Magalhães’s hand behind senator Élcio Álvares choice for
the Defense Ministry and Zequinha Sarney (son of former President José Sarney) for the
The PMDB (Partido do Movimento Democrático BrasileiroBrazilian Democratic
Movement Party), the party with the most members in Congress, grumbled, even though they
got two important posts in the cabinet: the Justice Ministry for Renan Calheiros and the
Transportation Ministry for Eliseu Padilha. They were also able to get status of minister
for Regional Policies secretary Ovídio de Angelis.
Besides being assailed by political leaders trying to secure some turf for themselves,
Cardoso had also his hands tied by the IMF, which wouldn’t let him exonerate Finance
minister Pedro Malan and Central Bank president, Gustavo Franco, without a good fight.
The choice of ambassador Celso Lafer to oversee the Ministry of Development, Industry
and Commerce, was an attempt to please international and domestic investors and
businesspeople. He is expected to be a mild counterpoint to the Cardoso pragmatism.
According to former Finance minister and current House representative Antônio Delfim
Netto from São Paulo, Lafer "is well prepared, is connected with the Paulista
(from São Paulo) business sector, but he is not a belligerent man, he will offer no
resistance to the economic team."
The Pleased and
Despite all the fretting, most of the allies seemed to be happy with the final cabinet
composition. Senator José Sarney, one of those directly benefited by the parceling out of
power echoed the opinion of many of his colleagues: "This is a very good team. The
President assembled a political cabinet."
"We are satisfied with our share," said Geddel Vieira Lima, the Baiano (from
Bahia) leader of the PMDB in the House. Besides getting the Justice and Transportation
ministries, Lima’s party was also able to win the Regional Policies Department, which is
now responsible for Water Resources, a bureau that belonged before to the Environment
A PTB (Partido Trabalhista BrasileiroBrazilian Labor Party) threatened rebellion
never occurred, since the threat that Paulo Paivaa PTB choice would be removed
from the Planning Ministry never happened. Some criticism came from some members of the
President’s party, the PSDB, even though most seemed happy with their lot in the bargain.
"It was the feasible reform, but we are happy with it, anyway," said Aécio
Neves, the party’s leader in the House. Representative Alberto Goldman, from São Paulo,
disagreed, criticizing the selection of PSDB’s Pimenta da Veiga for the Communications
Department, seeing it as a victory for the PFL. Goldman would rather have Veiga in a more
prominent political post. He also didn’t like to see Francisco Dornelles from the PPB
(Partido Progressista BrasileiroBrazilian Progressive Party) as the minister of Work
and Employment, dismissing it with a, "The PPB resembles more finances than
The PT (Partido dos TrabalhadoresWorkers’s Party), the main opposition party,
seemed totally unimpressed with the new cabinet. "There was no change," said
José Dirceu, the party’s president, echoed by another PT heavyweight, the former Porto
Alegre (capital of Rio Grande do Sul) mayor, Tarso Genro: "The cabinet accommodates
the government basis, now with an intellectual relish, Celso Lafer."
In Pernambuco some PFL politicians want to rebel against the government and their party
leadership. They cannot accept the fact that they lost the decades-old control over the
water resources sector. "The President knows that he needs to massage the ego of the
parliamentary basis, so they will approve the proposals he sends to Congress. He didn’t do
this giving irrigation to the PMDB and he will be sorry," threatened PFL
representative Osvaldo Coelho from Pernambuco.
All the Names
Development, Industry and Commerce – Celso Lafer. The Brazilian ambassador to
the World Trade Organization is highly respected by the government economic team as well
as the Brazilian business community.
Agriculture – Francisco Turra (PPB)
Culture – Francisco Weffort. He continues in his post.
Finance – Pedro Malan. One of the most respected ministers from the first four
years, Malan was the first to have his post guaranteed for a second term.
Budget and Management – Paulo Paiva (PTB). Stayed heeding an appeal by Malan.
Foreign Relations – Luiz Felipe Lampreia
Education – Paulo Renato de Souza. Like Malan and Lampreia he’s been is his post
since the beginning of the Cardoso first term of office.
Health – José Serra. Cardoso’s personal friend, he was Planning minister at the
beginning of the Cardoso administration.
Science and Technology _ Luiz Carlos Bresser Pereira (PSDB)
Mines and Energy – Rodolpho Tourinho (PFL). An Antônio Carlos Magalhães
protégé, he replaces Raimundo Brito.
Social Security – Waldeck Ornelas (PFL). He asked senator Antônio Carlos
Magalhães, his friend, to be maintained in the little popular post.
Labor and Employment – Francisco Dornelles (PPB). Former Industry and Commerce
minister, he would rather get the Communications post.
Environment – José Sarney Filho (PFL) The PV (Partido VerdeGreen Party)
rightfully wanted the post. It became his Christmas gift from his father, ex-president
José Sarney (PMDB).
Sports and Tourism _ Raphael Grecca (PFL). He wanted the Urban Development
ministry, which never left the drawing board
Defense – Élcio Álvares (PFL). The new ministry reunites formers military
ministries (Army, Navy and Air Force). Álvares failed to get reelected to the senate in
the October 1998 national elections.
Justice – Renan Calheiros (PMDB). He is maintained in the post from the previous
term of office despite some grumbling from other allied parties.
Transportation – Eliseu Padilha (PMDB). He also kept his post.
Agrarian Reform – Raul Jungmann. Being able to arrange a $800,000 foreign loan
helped him keep his job.
Civilian Staff – Clóvis Carvalho
Military Staff – General Alberto Cardoso
Communications – Pimenta da Veiga. Representing the PSDB from Minas Gerais.
Social Action (linked to the Social Security Ministry) _ Wanda Hengel was the
secretary of Social Development in the city of Rio
Administration and Patrimony (linked to the Budget and Management Ministry –
Regional Policies – Ovídio de Angelis (PMDB).
Foreign Commerce Chamber – José Botafogo Gonçalves
Institutional Relations – Eduardo Graeff
Government Communication – Andrea Matarazzo. He almost resigned before starting
the new job. The ex-president of CESP (Companhia Energética de São Paulo) and former
Energy secretary of São Paulo Governor, Mário Covas, will be in charge of the government
Human Rights (linked to the Justice Ministry) – José Gregori
Planning and Evaluation, in charge of IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e
EstatísticaBrazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics) – Edward Amadeo
Special Projects – Ronaldo Sardenberg. He was in charge of the extinct
Department of Strategic Affairs.