Brazil: The Meanness of Lula’s Regime

     Brazil: The Meanness of 
Lula's Regime

    Brazilian House members
    may face the possibility of being sued
    and convicted for crimes against the State. After all, they
    consciously ignored the Constitution when they approved the new
    minimum wage. Only from Houdini could anyone expect the
    possibility of a worker surviving with the approved salary.
    by: Carlos

    The explicit self-serving spectacle staged by both ministers and government
    leaders in Congress in the last few days gave the Planalto Palace a victory,
    with the approval of the provisional remedy bill raising the minimum wage
    to 260 reais (US$ 84) per month.

    It was a Pyrrhic victory,
    though. Even if the Senate confirms the official victory, and this is still
    an interrogation mark, one thing will be made very clear to the 40 million
    Brazilians who work for the minimum wage: the true face of the PT government.
    Which is just like the face shown by both tucanos and liberals during
    our eight years under the sociologist.

    Nothing less than an administration
    that was put in place to serve the bankers, the speculators and the elites
    repository of all the benefits, rewards and favors, in contraposition to the
    despised and humiliated masses who always have to sacrifice. The majority
    of House members who gave their votes to the establishment of this obscene
    minimum wage were left with the crumbs from the feast.

    A Spectacle of Meanness

    One day these House members
    will face the possibility of being sued and convicted for crimes against the
    State. After all, they consciously ignored the Constitution when they approved
    the 260 reais.

    The fundamental law of
    the land says that the minimum wage must be enough for workers and their families
    to afford food, housing, clothing, transportation, education, health and even
    recreation. Only from Houdini could anyone expect the possibility of a worker
    doing so with what the House of Representatives has decided they should earn.

    We do not even need to
    mention the promises and threats made to the majority. Ministers knocked on
    every politician’s door and used the telephone to ensure the granting of money,
    nominations and other gifts for those Congress members willing to vote for
    the provisional bill. Or to change his or her vote at the last minute.

    At the same time, bearded
    and with a forbidding look on his face, the president of the PT, José
    Genoíno, threatened with less than enlightened punishment any comrade
    willing to insist in voting against the official proposal. He said they would
    be treated as oppositionists and, between the lines, suggested the shadow
    of expulsion, à la episode affecting senator Heloísa Helena
    and three other House members.

    There will be a pay back,
    no doubt about it. With municipal elections nationalized, it will not be easy
    for the PT to keep the mayors of major cities or to win new mayoral races.
    It was indeed a Pyrrhic victory because it exposed the bowels of this spectacle
    of explicit meanness practiced against those who voted President Lula into
    power. It’s time to repeat the old saying, spelled out now in letters of proof:
    in Brazil, presidents are elected by the people, but they please the elites,
    with rare exceptions.

    Mistrust of PT Creeping

    Yesterday’s session had
    a little of everything. Glowing exhortations favoring the defeat of the provisory
    bill from those with little legitimacy to make them in the first place, such
    as tucanos and liberals who committed the massacre of the humble in
    the past. Clumsy explanations from those who denied their origins and their
    consciences. And even irony from those who have been oscillating for years
    between the delights of power and the lies of political rallies.

    The nation still trusts
    President Lula. People imagine that he will soon commit to his campaign promises
    and deliver them. But there is a growing number of those who doubt it and
    are beginning to suspect that the PT has been like this from the very beginning.
    What happened was that it was able to fool the electorate during all the years
    when it was opposition, not government.

    And it is hardly worth
    it to argue that yes, we do have the funds, in public and private coffers,
    to raise the minimum wage to 300 or 350 reais. The Previdência Social
    system would not break. Municipal governments would survive, as well as
    businesses, even if the superavit primário (primary surplus)
    were to be lowered.

    Or the bankers were to
    have to swallow the smallest decrease in their profits. The IMF would shrug
    its shoulders, as well as the World Bank. They even reiterate that the Lula
    government is exaggerating.

    Madam the Ambassador

    One thing is more than
    for sure, backstage in the municipal elections: the possibility of Marta Suplicy
    losing reelection as Mayor of São Paulo, as the polls are indicating
    today, will not be a reason to leave her outside of the inner circle who shares
    the delights of power.

    She has been promised,
    in the event of defeat, the embassy of Brazil in Paris. Madam the ambassador
    would thus remain in her alternativo (nouveau riche) habitat. And mister
    Favre would return to his home country. Nothing like being friends of the

    An alternative has been
    presented, too. If Marta is unwilling to work full time, she can choose to
    head Brazil’s representative office at Unesco, by coincidence also headquartered
    in Paris.

    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

    by Tereza Braga. Braga is a freelance Portuguese translator and interpreter
    based in Dallas. She is an accredited member of the American Translators
    Association. Contact:

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