Even an earthquake has its good side, fancied the presidential palace’s strategists the day Haiti ended. Since 2004 leading the UN peace force, wounded by the death of Zilda Arns, a diplomat and 17 soldiers, Brazil managed to get with the tragedy the trump card it needed to take, free of competitors, the leadership of the international operations to revive the country in tatters.
And a bad idea took shape: why not take advantage of the favorable conjunction of stars to make Haiti a protectorate of the regional power that Lula created?
Ecstatic with the outbreak of creativity, the federal alchemists turned Zilda Arns’s wake into a political rally and chose (cabinet chief) Gilberto Carvalho for the launching, by the side of the coffin, of he new national project. The opening sentence surprised the conversation’s partners:
“Brazil has lost a great activist and won a great patron saint.” Oblivious to the astonishment caused by the summary dismissal of Nossa Senhora Aparecida (Our Lady of the Apparition), replaced without anesthesia by the Child’s Pastoral founder, the president’s private secretary went straight to the point: “We must adopt Haiti starting now. We even have a martyr there.”
“I’ll do all I can so that Zilda Arns win the Nobel Peace Prize,” Lula added to a chatting group close by. Expressly prohibited by the Nobel’s organizers, the posthumous prize awarding was allowed only once, to meet exceptional circumstances.
In 1961, Swedish statesman Dag Hammarskjöld, UN’s Secretary-General during the previous decade, had already been selected, when on the eve of the formal announcement, he died in a plane crash. Lula promised what hasn’t happened in 50 years. Either he ignores the ban or he really thinks he is the man.
While the boss supported impossible candidacies in funeral ceremonies, (Justice minister) Nelson Jobim and (Foreign minister) Celso Amorim articulated the resistance movement against the Haiti’s invasion by American doctors and soldiers, armed with medicine, food and emergency equipment.
The pile of fiascos began with the attempt to regain control of the capital’s airport. When preparing a counter-offensive, Jobim learned the Yankees were there at the request of the Haitian government.
If it were not so hopelessly tacky, Lula’s government would have taken advantage of the US’s vigorous entry into the scene to join the world’s only superpower and learn what it doesn’t know. In the post-war years, for example, the Americans organized the reconstruction of Japan and Germany.
Brazil, which cannot cope even with heavy rain, is a country still under construction. But the president thinks he’s ready. And preferred to dispute with Barack Obama the leading role.
After a week, it only managed to get even further away from a seat on the UN’s Security Council, as stated in the opera’s summary published this January 19 by the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia:
“The earthquake occurred a week ago laid bare the inability of the United Nations to deal with a disaster of such dimensions. The onerous mission of 8300 blue berets was useless when it needed to face emergency and organize assistance to the Haitians. Brazil, which has aspirations to the status of regional power in Latin America, showed, as coordinator of the UN forces, incompetence and lack of leadership.”
While Haitians plead for salvation that insists on taking a long time, Celso Amorim is still begging for meetings with Hillary Clinton. While Brazilian soldiers fight for the victims of the scourge, Nelson Jobim fights to extend for five years the presence in Haiti of the troops he visits when it suits him.
Brazilians who died in combat as well as those who remain in Haiti deserve admiration and respect. They are heroes. Politicians who ignore the implausible nightmare to focus on petty squabbles are gigolos of the earthquake.
Augusto Nunes is a Brazilian journalist and writes for weekly Veja magazine. This article was originally published in Portuguese in his blog – http://veja.abril.com.br/blog/augusto-nunes/direto-ao-ponto