From Republic to Empire

From Republic to Empire

    Our futurologist in residence peers into the future and reveals
    how everything goes wrong in the
    Lula administration
    and how in 180 days Brazil goes from broke to chaos
    and beyond, in a Simpsons-like scenario.
    Anônimo Days

    January 1st:
    President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is inaugurated with the dollar at R$ 4.20, receiving many hugs from
    Fidel Castro, who is housed in Palácio da Alvorada (the presidential residence). Commandant Castro doesn’t stop eating the
    hors d’oeuvres prepared by First Lady Marisa and smoking the cigars—he
    apparently had a relapse and went back to the vice he had abandoned years ago—he brought in his luggage. Meanwhile, Lula keeps
    Henrique Meirelles, a good orthodox economist at the Central Bank, but caught in an emergency chooses "brilliant" friend, top
    adviser and House Representative Aloízio Mercadante to fill up the Finance Ministry. It happens that the chosen Finance
    Minister, Antônio Palocci, has resigned from his post in the first day on the job, to keep doing what he does best: looking for a
    new job.

    January 3:
    As the party does not stop in the Esplanada, which is filled with 200,000 activists celebrating behind
    trios elétricos, Lula’s Party, the PT, decides to impose the dry law in Brasília. This reveals to be unnecessary since Brasília is already
    dry by nature and all those partying are used to the situation.

    January 6:
    Partygoers start showing signs of weariness and President Lula signs a Temporary Measure in order to
    add 2 billion dollars to the budget so that the area around the presidential palace can be rebuilt. Renowned architect Oscar
    Niemeyer, the man responsible for the modernistic look of the Capital, is called. He says that "the people are beautiful and the
    Brazilian culture is marvelous." His office will take care of everything, he says, for the right price.

    January 15:
    Due to a mistaken fiscal policy adopted by Finance Minister Mercadante, the Central Bank president
    resigns. The dollar goes up to R$ 5.50 and inflation grows. Fidel continues eating Dona Marisa’s hors d’oeuvres and is already
    capable of emitting some Portuguese sounds ("Que ê isso compañero?" _ What’s that, comrade and "Quêro mas broa, Marissa"
    _ Want more cornbread, Marissa). Things start to get on Lula’s nerves, who complains about fiscal fraud and raises the
    income tax aliquot to 40 percent.

    My father has a heart attack.

    January 30:
    The radical wing of the PT breaks off with the Workers’ Party and joins the PSTU (United Workers’
    Socialist Party) and the MST (Landless Movement), both from the extreme Left. The PT’s base of support in congress starts to
    crumble when 30 members of the House of Representatives belonging to the PT and PC do B (Partido Comunista do Brasil)
    decide to jump ship and join the opposition. The family of former president Sarney starts to charge a heavy price for their
    backing. They demand two dams, four irrigation programs, 15 Sudam (Amazon Development Agency) projects that will
    guarantee kickbacks for the Sarney clan, and an increase in the import tariffs for textile products. In an attempt to unite the
    grassroots, Lula nominates extreme right wing representative Enéas to be the government’s leader in Congress.

    February 15:
    The dollar reaches R$ 6,00. The central trade union Força Sindical goes to the streets demanding that
    wages be indexed since inflation has already reached 60 percent a year. The MST invades Congress and camps inside the
    building, bringing all their flags and making life hell to everybody. The CUT (Central Única de Trabalhadores—Workers Unified
    Central) waits and see. It’s Carnaval, and the country stops to a halt, as usual. Lula and his campaign adman, Duda Mendonça
    are photographed drinking Cave Miolo wine, eating Beluga caviar and smoking cigars left behind by Fidel, who finally
    noticed he was not welcome anymore and flew back to Havana.

    March 1st:
    Finance Minister Aloízio Mercadante resigns after Lula yields to the radicals and signs a measure
    indexing wages semestrally. In reaction to this, the dollar climbs to R$ 7.50. At this point, Brazil risk jumps to 5000 points, and
    moratorium becomes a certainty. It’s just a question of time. Lula refuses to talk to the IMF alleging that he does not speak English.
    And he ads: "Even if I knew English, I wouldn’t talk. They had better learn Portuguese if they want to deal with us." The IMF
    cancels the agreement it signed with Brazil in 2002.

    My director has a heart attack

    March 15:
    The government centralizes the exchange. The inflow of external capitals stops entirely. Brazil has no
    more foreign credit. Officially the dollar is fixed at R$7, but it has already reached R$ 10 in the black market. Lula says that the
    problem of the floating exchange was that it floated too much and that whoever makes the dollar has no idea where is Brazil.

    April 1st:
    Brazil’s foreign creditors refuse to once again roll the country’s debt. All they want is to get their money
    and disappear. That’s when the government decides to reorganize the country’s debt. The savings of all Brazilians are
    exchanged for 20-year bonds, which can be sold for 15 percent of its face value. Lula guarantees, however, that he will not touch
    grannies savings.

    Too late though, my granny gets a heart attack

    April 15:
    The panelaços (public pan poundings) start. Sarney, senator Antônio Carlos Magalhães and former
    presidential candidates José Serra and Anthony Garotinho take to the streets. Garotinho cries because Serra’s pan is greater that his.
    PDT (Partido Democrático Trabalhista—Brazilian Labor Party) leader Leonel Brizola says that this little boy was always a
    crying baby. Lula joins the protestors and also starts to beat his pan. ("It’s in the blood, comrades," he explains to the TV
    cameras covering the street protest.) Key aides to the President also pound their pans before the cameras.

    April 30:
    There are rumors that the PT inner circle is ready to burst into pieces. The workers union CUT changes its
    name to ANUST (Associação Nefelibata Unida Sem Trabalho-United Nepheliad Association for Those Without Work). No
    one knows what Nepheliad means and soon there are humongous lines in front of foreign consulates. They all want to get a
    visa and jump ship. Lula blames predecessor Fernando Henrique Cardoso for all that’s wrong and accuses speculators of
    exploiting Brazil. The population does not accept the explanation. My sister faints while waiting in line at the American embassy.
    PT party honcho, Senator Eduardo Suplicy, is seen wearing shades and disguised as Inspector Clouzot, trying to cut in line.

    May 15:
    The situation is untenable. Chaos is imminent in Brazil. The rare leftist leaders who remained faithful to Lula
    blame the elites, but nobody knows for sure who belongs to these rarefied elites. Some members of Congress start the process
    to get a constitutional amendment so that Brazil can adopt parliamentarism. Enéas makes a fiery speech on the floor of
    Congress in defense of the return of Monarchy and demanding that Brazil build its own atomic bomb. He is put into a straitjacket
    by the congress security force and taken to a mental institution while he screams without stopping: "My name, what’s
    really my name?"

    June 1st :
    Brazil adopts a British-style parliamentarism. Lula becomes the Queen and the country duo Zezé Di
    Camargo e Luciano compose and sing "God Save Lula." Lula’s picture can now be seen in public spaces graced by the House of
    the Silvas coat of arms, a five-point star encircled by little stars and a sickle. The sovereign’s motto is: "Good Gnocchus Est
    Rarus." Fernando Henrique Cardoso accepts the invitation to become Prime Minister and rushes home from still another one of
    his world tours. The government adopts a new jingle-slogan to substitute the "Lula There" used in the presidential
    campaign. The new one is called: "Lullaby There."

    July 1st:
    10 years after the launching of the Real Plan, the Plan Réis (money from the time of the Empire) is launched
    with fanfare. Premier Ferdinand Henri Cardoso goes on TV to reassure the population that the new currency is the country’s
    last hope for becoming a world power.

    July 15:
    My mother disinherits me for having voted in Lula. I couldn’t care less since she has lost all her savings
    and sold all her valuables.

    July 30:
    The PT becomes known as PTM – Powerful Time Machine. In a mere six months, Brazil has regressed 100 years.

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