It Seems Cardoso Is Still President in Brazil

     It Seems Cardoso Is Still 
President in Brazil

    Brazil Lula’s government
    will have to take care, less through not
    having fulfilled its campaign promises, and more because it was
    transformed into a videotape of the previous administration. It is
    said in jest, that the first term for Cardoso was good, the second
    bad, but the third is even worse. How the fourth will be?
    by: Carlos
    Chagas

    Brazzil
Picture

    Prevarications, lies, schemes or accommodations are pointless. It is the government
    itself which reveals, through the IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia
    e Estatística—Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics)
    and the IPEA (Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada—Institute
    of Applied Economic Research), the existence of 53 million Brazilians at the
    poverty line, surviving on half the minimum salary. The monthly minimum wage
    in Brazil has just been raised to 260 reais (US$ 87).

    Worse yet: of these 22
    million are indigent, that is, without a house or fixed occupation. We are
    not talking about a regular job, which the others don’t have either. The indigent
    don’t even have work. This in a population of 170 million, adding the 12 million
    in the active labor pool who already have their work papers signed, or are
    entering the market.

    This is the piece of data
    that those in power did not reveal, whoever they are, preferring to stick
    with the deceptive percentages. Now and again the Ministry of Labor, whether
    in the government of Fernando Henrique or of Lula, reports that unemployment
    is over 10, 12, even 20 percent, but never reports the actual number of the
    unemployed, that is those who have worked already or want to work. Now we
    know. And now and then we will report it.

    The Failure of
    the Economic Model

    This information would
    be enough to give a recipe for the absolute failure of the economic model
    which is devastating us, carried over from one administration to the next,
    the promises of change notwithstanding. At least Lula’s team ought to know
    that neoliberalism concentrates income, in addition, of course, to its diversion
    outside of Brazil.

    It is of little importance
    for the potentates and their partisans that Brazil is being transformed into
    an immense favela, since they can retort, with illusory ratiocinations,
    that this is the price to be paid for modernity our inclusion in the globalized
    world. It isn’t.

    The bill goes to the excluded,
    on a forced march to barbarism, if things should continue as they are going.
    Because without employment, living from what it can scrape together, without
    food, dwelling, clothing, health and education, our people have lost the hope
    that they fictitiously acquired in the 2002 elections.

    There is no way to cross
    this barrier, which, instead of being demolished, continues to grow day by
    day. Soon, the larger part of the population will be on that side, and let
    us not imagine that it will remain inert, amorphous and contemplative.

    In the same way, it will
    not wait for the results of the only, slow solution presented to it by the
    government, that is, that investments in education will someday be able to
    raise the living standards for the masses. It is a lie, because poverty and
    indigence are growing ever larger.

    Lula’s government will
    have to take care, less through not having fulfilled its campaign promises,
    and more because it was transformed into a videotape of the administration
    of his predecessor. It is said in jest, that the first term for Fernando Henrique
    Cardoso was good, the second bad, but the third is even worse. Imagine how
    the fourth term will be….

    The Two Brazils

    The word of the day, according
    to the pronouncement made by the President of the Republic in the interior
    of São Paulo state, is that all of Brazil should show the world the
    beautiful things that we possess.

    That we should advertise
    our natural wonders, and also our export products, vowing that Japan, Germany
    and China should increase to ten percent the level of alcohol mixed into their
    gasoline. And so, our production would be entirely allocated and we would
    have to double it in a few months.

    With all due respect,
    we need to ask if we are not living in two distinct countries. One, the Brazil
    with increasing exports, conquering new markets, with growing agribusiness,
    open to foreign tourism and partnerships with other nations.

    This is Lula’s Brazil,
    fantastic, only benefiting a small minority. Another Brazil exists, where
    one finds the majority of the population. It is the Brazil of the minimum
    salary readjusted to R$ 260, the Brazil of 55 million indigents who survive
    at half the minimum wage, the Brazil of 13 million unemployed.

    This is our Brazil, which
    voted for Lula out of indignation, in the hope that everything would change.
    The problem is that the deck was stacked and Lula’s Brazil came to be the
    Brazil of the elites. Our Brazil? Well, our Brazil continues to be where it
    always was: at the bottom of the well…


    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
    from the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated by the language
    and culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates from Portuguese, Spanish,
    French, Italian and German, and is also active as a musician. He is the
    librarian for music, modern languages and media at The College of New Jersey.
    Comments welcome at mooret@tcnj.edu.

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