Brazil’s Lula Can’t Be Like All the Others

     Brazil's Lula Can't Be 
Like All the Others

    Brazilian President
    Lula da Silva should stop repeating partial
    projects and embody an alternative discourse. Lula needs to be
    the spokesperson for a change of mentality. But, unfortunately,
    this is not what we are seeing. The discourse of hope has remained
    imprisoned, limited to the same vocabulary of past failures.
    by: Cristovam
    Buarque

    Juscelino

    Brazzil
Picture

    Brazil has always had a reserve supply of hope in the bank of its dreams.
    When one hope was lost, another was still waiting. For decades we were told
    that Brazil was a country of the future. And in each era we were sold a new
    dream, one that would begin and then remain unfulfilled. But another hope
    always surged forth. There was no need or time for nostalgia.

    The country, it appeared,
    was afraid of fulfilling its destiny. It was always imprisoned by the rules
    made abroad or by the local elite. It was always ignoring inequality, always
    recusing itself from completing its Abolition and Republic—which delayed
    four centuries in beginning—, always recusing itself from investing in
    the sectors that can construct a rich, educated nation with solidarity and
    without inequalities. With each fiasco, another hope took the place of the
    previous one. And it was, once again, under the slogan of hope overcoming
    fear that President Lula was elected.

    The hopes, which had before
    formed part of the same project of the same managerial elite, had not taken
    into consideration the possibility that someday a new government would come
    into office with a new hope. This would be a government with an alternative
    way of thinking, one headed by someone of another origin, with another biography,
    someone with different proposals.

    Lula and the Workers Party
    (PT) represent a radically different hope, the last one in sight, it seems.
    For this reason we have a much greater responsibility towards this hope than
    towards all the previous ones.

    One year after Lula’s
    inauguration, the majority of the country has the impression that hope is
    imprisoned. Those who know Lula know of his dedication to poor Brazilians
    and of his responsibility to change the country, and they still believe that
    he is hope incarnate. When his proposals are analyzed, nevertheless, they
    are found to be traditional and limited, part of the same complex of ideas
    and beneficiaries of the hopes of yesterday.

    One therefore has to confirm
    that hope is imprisoned. If in the next months we do not succeed in making
    the necessary gestures, in taking the necessary actions to take back hope,
    Brazil will for the first time be nostalgic for hope, a feeling that comes
    from the lack of any alternative dream whatsoever.

    Lula and our government
    represent the reserve of hope left after the failed proposals and experiences
    of the past. Its failure would leave us completely nostalgic, trapped in absolute
    nostalgia.

    For this reason, on top
    of all the other reasons associated with a sad state of affairs that calls
    for change, we cannot allow our government to fail in its capacity to inspire
    hope, the slogan under which it was elected.

    We do not need a revolution
    to have hope. Brazil needs a few signposts marking a different course.

    The first retaking of
    hope is in the President’s very discourse. He should stop repeating partial
    projects and embody an alternative discourse. Lula needs to be the spokesperson
    for a change of mentality, as was President Juscelino Kubitschek in the 1950s
    when he changed the country’s mentality from agricultural to industrial.

    Now is the time to pass
    from an industrial growth mentality to one of development with abolition of
    poverty, and not merely of hunger, with respect for ecology within democracy,
    and with monetary stability.

    If that new mentality
    should take hold in Brazil, it will be perfectly possible to reorient the
    necessary resources to fulfill the project of a new nation. But, unfortunately,
    this is not what we are seeing. The discourse of hope has remained imprisoned,
    limited to the same vocabulary of past failures.

    The second retaking of
    hope consists of defining ambitious goals from the point of view of the new
    Brazil under construction, although they may be modest from the point of view
    of expectations born of the comparison with other countries.

    This retaking of hope
    would signify Lula’s adoption of concrete goals for a new course, different
    from the false promise of growth that, if it should come, will depend upon
    the impresarios and upon the rest of the world and will not benefit poor Brazilians
    or construct a different Brazil.

    Lula should define goals
    and each day hold his ministers responsible for abolishing illiteracy in four
    years. He should guarantee that each child shall be in school next year, even
    if the schools may not be satisfactory.

    Starting now, he should
    send to the Congress the FUNDEB bill that creates the Fund for the Maintenance
    and Development of Basic Education and Valorization of the Teaching Profession,
    changing the way we treat Basic Education teachers in Brazil.

    He should determine that
    on his or her fourth birthday every child shall have the right to a place
    in school, he himself going on television to ask parents to take their children
    to school on that day.

    And he should determine
    that from now on the government of every state will be obliged to assure a
    place in the public high schools for every young person and tell each young
    person that he or she should use that right.

    Cristovam Buarque – mensagem@cristovam.com.br
    – is a professor at the University of Brasília and a Workers Party
    (PT) senator for the Federal District. He was also Brazil’s Education
    Minister during the first year of the Lula administration.

    Translated
    by Linda Jerome – LinJerome@cs.com.

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