Lula’s Tactic to Win: Denying His Predecessor Has Ever Done Anything Good

Fernando Henrique Cardoso and president Lula President Lula is going through moments of euphoria that lead him to invent enemies and state untruths. To win his imaginary war he distorts what happened in the government of his predecessor, he does an exercise of selfglorification in the comparison and suggests that there will be chaos if the opposition wins.

Behind this bravado are personalism and the specter of intolerance: only I and my own are capable of so much glory. Somebody said: “I am the state.” Lula will say: “I am Brazil!” Echoes of an authoritarianism more common in the right.

I regret that Lula might be contaminated by so rough and dangerous impulses. He has enough merits to defend the candidacy he wishes. He went forward following what had been planted by his predecessors. Why, then, should he lower the level of politics to concealment and deceit?

The strategy of the Lulist-PTism is simple: to deconstruct the main enemy, the PSDB and FHC (Fernando Henrique Cardoso) (great honor for a poor Marquis …). Why should we be the main enemy? Because we can win the elections. How to deconstruct the enemy? Denying what good was done and taking possession of all that it inherited from him as if it always had belonged to them. Where is a more conscious and beneficial policy for all? In the drain.

The campaign will have a motto – the PSDB government was “neoliberal” – and two main targets: the privatization of the state companies and the alleged inaction in the social area. The data say otherwise. But the data, now, the data … What counts is to repeat the expedient version.

Three weeks ago Lula said he received a stagnant government, with no development plan. He forgot the currency stability, the Fiscal Responsibility Law, the BNDES recovery, the modernization of Petrobras, which has tripled production since the end of the monopoly and pressed by competition and benefited by flexibility came to the discovery of the pre-salt.

He forgot the strengthening of Banco do Brasil, capitalized with more than 6 billion reais (US$ 3.2 billion), which together with Caixa Econômica (Federal Savings Bank) broke away from politics and were recovered for the implementation of government policies. He forgot the Forward Brazil Program’s investments, which, with less fanfare and more efficiently than the PAC, allowed to finish a greater number of essential works to the country.

He forgot the gains that the Telebrás privatization brought to the Brazilian people, democratizing access to the Internet and cell phones, the fact that privatized Vale pays more taxes to the government than it has ever received in dividends when the company was state owned, that Embraer, today a reason of national pride, was only able to make the leap it did after privatization, that these companies remain in Brazilian hands, generating jobs and development in the country

He forgot the country paid a high price for years of “bravado” by the PT (Workers Party) and himself. He forgot about his responsibility and that of his party for the fear that gripped the markets in 2002 when we were forced to seek help from the IMF – with backing of Lula, we should add – so that there would be a cushion of reserves at the beginning of the next government.

He forgot that it was this fear that fanned inflation and led his government to raise the primary surplus and interests to the skies in 2003 to buy the markets’ confidence, even at the cost of everything they had preached, he and his party in previous years.

The examples are too numerous to disassemble the PT bogey on the supposed PSDB’s “neoliberalism.” Some come from the PT field itself. Look what the current party president, José Eduardo Dutra, former Petrobras president, cited by Adriano Pires in Brasil Econômico of January 13, said:

“If I ever return to Congress and get an amendment proposing the previous situation (monopoly), I’ll vote against. When the monopoly was broken, Petrobras produced 600,000 barrels a day and had reserves of 6 million barrels. Ten years later it produces 1.8 million a day and has reserves of 13 billion. Won reality, which often is quite different from the idealization we do about it.”

The other target of the PT distortion has to do with social insensitivity of those who would only care about the economy. The facts are different: with the real, the poor population decreased from 35% to 28% of the total. Poverty continued to fall, with some fluctuation, until reaching 18% in 2007, due to the cumulative effect of social and economic policies, including the minimum wage increase.

From 1995 to 2002 there was a real increase of 47.4%; from 2003 to 2009 of 49.5%. The average monthly income of workers, adjusted for inflation, has not grown dramatically in the period, except between 1993 and 1997, when it jumped from 800 reais (US$ 426) to about 1,200 reais (US$ 639). Today it is below the level reached in the early years of the Real Plan.

Finally, we have the programs of direct transfer of income (now Bolsa Família – Family Allowance), sold as an exclusive feature of this government. In fact, they began in a municipality (Campinas) and the Federal District, went to the states (Goiás) and got national coverage in my government. The Bolsa-Escola reached around 5 million families, to which the current government added another 6 million, already with the Bolsa Família name, encompassing in a single bolsa the previous programs.

It’s a lie, therefore, to say that the PSDB “did not look after the social.” It not only looked as it did a lot in this area: the SUS (Universal Health System) went from paper to reality; the AIDS program became a global model; we made the generic drugs possible without fearing the multinationals.

The Family Health teams, a little over 300 in 1994, became more than 16,000 in 2002; the program Every Child in School brought to the basic schooling almost 100% of the children aged 7 to 14. It was also in the PSDB government that was implemented a policy that today attends more than 3 million elderly and disabled (in 1996 only 300,000 were being cared for).

Elections are not won on the rear-view mirror. The voter votes on who he trusts and opens a horizon of hope. But if the Lulism wishes to compare without lying and without decontextualizing, this  is a good fight. Nothing to fear.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso, a sociologist, was the president of Brazil.

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