Brazil: Lula’s Party Gets Ready for Battle

     Brazil: Lula's Party Gets Ready 
for Battle

    In an effort to dispel
    the bitter taste left by a scandal from a Brazilian
    top government’s aide, the Workers’ Party executive committee
    announced a national act of redress. Lula’s party believes
    that the occasion calls for an offensive position and not a defensive
    one. The public act is to be held in Brasília and across
    the country.
    by: Émerson
    Luís

    While Brazilians were enjoying the long Carnaval holiday (from
    Friday to Ash Wednesday) in the streets and clubs, watching
    Rio and Salvador samba school parades on TV or simply hiding
    in some place from the maddening Dionysian crowd, President
    Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the leaders of the PT governing
    party weren’t having any real rest.

    Lula reserved
    some time for a soccer match with visiting members of the Silva
    clan—by the way, as asked by the protocol, his team won
    6 to 3—but his mind wasn’t in the game.

    The President announced
    that he intended to meet the political coordinators of his administration,
    this Ash Wednesday, in order to evaluate damages and plot strategies after
    the previous week’s eclosion of the Waldogate scandal. Waldo is Waldomiro
    Diniz, who was the top aide to the powerful Chief of Staff, José Dirceu,
    until his boss fired him for extorting money from Rio’s druglords.

    Among the top cabinet
    members expected to meet President Lula da Silva are Finance Minister, Antônio
    Palocci; Luís Dulci, General Secretariat of the Presidency; Jaques
    Wagner, Economic and Social Development Minister and José Dirceu. Lula
    spent Tuesday at Palácio da Alvorada, the presidential palace, where
    he met Palocci and had a session with Gu Hang Hu, the President’s acupuncturist.

    For Brazilians, the revelation
    supported by a videotape, in the weekly newsmagazine Época,
    that Diniz was a crook was nothing more than politics as usual. Year after
    year, decade after decade, these shady deals have been uncovered, given some
    publicity and then forgotten as the price of doing business in Brazil. The
    new fact, however, is that Lula was elected in a platform of clean hands and
    his party, the PT (Partido dos Trabalhadores—Workers’ Party), has been
    able to cultivate an image of integrity and transparency.

    In an effort to dispel
    the bitter taste left by the Diniz scandal, the PT’s executive committee announced
    its intention of setting up, March 3, a national act of redress to Dirceu
    and a motion of support to President Lula. The Workers’ Party leadership believes
    that the occasion calls for an offensive position and not a defensive one.

    The public act to be held
    in Brasília and in several cities across the country should bring together
    ministers, senators, representatives, governors and mayors who belong to the
    PT and also many of the federal government’s allies and sympathizers.

    Petistas (PT members)
    are being asked to show their colors and "defend the party’s ethical
    patrimony." The party’s main strategy seems to concentrate on laying
    the blame for the bribery scandal at the opposition’s door. The PT wants to
    make the voters believe that the Waldomiro’s embarrassment is primarily an
    effort by the PSDB (Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira—Party of
    Brazilian Social Democracy) and the PFL (Partido da Frente Liberal—Liberal
    Front Party) to destabilize the government and steal votes at the coming regional
    elections, later this year.

    José Genoíno,
    the PT president, put forward the tenor of the coming battle for the voters’
    minds, by saying: "We are living a climate of political confrontation.
    Our political foes displayed their intentions when they said that their interest
    is the 2004 municipal election. The PT will not allow that its ethical patrimony
    be besmirched. We are taking the offensive route. This will be an act of defense
    of the federal government and of solidarity with José Dirceu."

    For Genoíno, Dirceu
    will continue as Chief of Staff, since his removal of that post is unnegotiable.
    The PT president vouches for Dirceu’s honesty: "He did not commit any
    irregular act and we cannot accept the way he is being attacked. At most he
    committed a political error or acted naively for having trusted Waldomiro."

    Congress is giving the
    Lula administration a helping hand. Legislators of both Houses decided to
    extend their holidays for a few more days. Senators and representatives will
    be back to work only on March 2nd. Bad news should be coming though
    from other areas. Organized groups intend to go to Court to contest Lula’s
    MP (—Medida Provisória—Provisional Measure) closing all bingo
    houses in the country and prohibiting the import and operation of slot machines.

    And Friday, the IBGE (Instituto
    Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística—Brazilian Institute of Geography
    and Statistics) will be announcing Brazil’s 2003 GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
    One thing is sure: it will not be the announced "growth display"
    as Lula put it a few months back. Unless 1 percent can be considered a good
    show.

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