Brazil Hath No Fury Like a Mayor Scorned

Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) city hallIt’s the mayors’ turn. Since yesterday, at the federal capital, municipal officeholders have not only arrived to pass their hats around as they have done for decades. They also brought club and mace, figuratively too, since they are dealing with President Lula and the government using a reasonable dose of arrogance and irritation.

The mayors cannot take it anymore. With a couple of exceptions, they find themselves included in the Fiscal Responsibility Law. The amount of funds they receive from the Union is not even sufficient to bear the expense of the respective administrative machines. Imagine, then, how they will be able to follow through with their campaign promises.

Six months have elapsed since the mayors’ election or reelection and they shudder at the law. They might have to increase taxes in order to maintain the routine services functioning. Soon, they will have a hard time going out in the streets.

Thus, the mayors will take advantage of the season of speaking rudely and threatening Brasília with retaliation as the Federal Deputies did by electing Severino Cavalcanti their president.

The mayors most pressing complaint is not about Lula, much less the Minister of Cities, Olívio Dutra. The claims go directly to the economic team.

It would be wise for Finance Minister Antonio Palocci and his companions to be watchful because 5,594 war-ready mayors can destroy anyone’s reputation, even a saint’s if they start the protests season in their municipalities as they threatened.

Holy Week or Nation Week?

One more postponement. At least according to what Senator Aloísio Mercadante announced, the reform would have been yesterday. It was not. From the Palácio do Planalto there started to flow rumors that Mr. Lula will complete the reform by Holy Week.

First, it was said that the rectification of the government team would happen by Christmas. It was postponed to the end of the year, then to January. Again it was sojourned, this time, till after the House and Congress elections.

After Carnaval became the new due date. As nothing happened, but the evidence that Senator Mercadante was badly informed, a new date came up: it will be known until Holy Week. Later, perhaps.

The President faces mountainous impediments. It’s enough for him to focus on a direction or name for a thousand obstacles to emerge. To take away ministries from the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) to give to the supporting parties was the premise, but when it came to personal nominations, the PT’s reaction was overwhelming:

“You can’t take this one nor that one; otherwise, you will face war at the political stage and in some states.” “And why keep Aldo Rebello as a political coordinator if José Dirceu does not want it and João Paulo Cunha finds himself in the air?”

A second wave of criticism surged from Partido Popular (PP), an abandoned party that has come back after Severino Cavalcanti’s victory as House speaker. The Maluf supporters want two ministries, two of the good ones.

As far as the PMDB is concerned, how can they get more seats if more than half of its deputies chose to disconnect themselves from the governing body?

Roseana Sarney would be placed in the party’s quota, even after being a PFL member. The governors Germano Rigotto, Luiz Henrique, Roberto Requião, Joaquim Roriz e Jarbas Vasconcelos may participate in the negotiations.

The PL moved its pawns as the PTB did. Based on the dimension of its political blocks and its loyalty, they deem themselves worthy of more ministries, heavy ministries, not second class ones. What to do with maniacs such as the PC do B? What would be the communists reaction if they lost one of their ministries?

Whether Lula solved the puzzle is not known. Would it be worth to wait till Nation Week to give the Independence cry?

Horror

Only after the votes for the labor reform are cast in Congress, will the labor reform issue be concluded. According to the proposal, the 13th salary and paid vacations would be split twelve times. Both would disappear in two or three years, given the successive loss of buying power of the salaries and the absence of readjustments according to inflation.

Compensation for firings without just cause would become optional. When being hired, the employer would waiver the benefit, given there should be open negotiation between employers and employees.

If the employee refused evrybody knows that the line of unemployed is huge. The pretext is to make the payroll lighter, a contractor’s demand.

By the way, a just demand, if it were not for the fact that the workers are the ones who are going to pay the bill. In the government, the barriers that impeded this social rights suppression are falling.

They say that the last one to accept the reform was the Minister of Labor, Ricardo Berzoini, the man who until recently was the biggest obstacle to sending the project to the legislative.

Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio’s daily Tribuna da Imprensa and is a representative of the Brazilian Press Association, in Brasília. He welcomes your comments at carloschagas@hotmail.com.

Translated by Aldo de Paula Jansel. He is a Brazilian student in Florida, USA, deeply interested in Brazilian politics. You may reach him at rednose431@hotmail.com.

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