Brazil Lula’s Empty Promises

     Brazil Lula's Empty Promises

    By vetoing what had
    been accorded, the Brazilian President
    demoralizes his leaders and transforms future agreements into
    empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress is
    treated. Elected on social promises, Lula now distances himself
    from the pledges and the trends occurring around the world.
    By Cristovam

    In a recent debate in the United States, a consensus was reached as to the
    need of a Social Shock in the Latin-American continent: a set of measures
    to confront the social tragedy.

    International institutions—including
    financial, many of which considered conservative—and so-called rightwing
    governments already have realized that the existing social scenario cannot
    persist, and that it is possible to bring about change by following the economic
    restrictions in place.

    That alone would suffice
    to explain the sad surprise upon learning of President Lula’s veto to the
    meek references of a Social Shock, included in the Statute of Budgetary Policies
    (LDO) approved by the Congress.

    The government, elected
    on social promises, now distances itself from the pledges and the trends occurring
    around the world. Trends—in part—inspired by the illusion that Brazil
    would carry out such change.

    Lula’s victory at the
    polls awakened the entire world to the need for social investment to combat
    the tragedy of poverty. And this administration, this President, does the
    opposite of what he has inspired abroad, vetoing our intentions to do in Brazil
    what we have stirred throughout the world.

    This creates a Sadness
    Shock, in lieu of the anticipated Social Shock.

    Yet graver is that the
    idea of Social Shock and the terms of its inclusion in the LDO were debated
    with administration officials themselves, and its leadership in Congress.

    The issues were settled
    under an agreement, such as the assurance that Congress would vote in favor
    of 260 reais (US$ 87) minimum monthly salary. The initial proposal prepared
    by the Senate was more ambitious, and it was brought down as a result of negotiations
    with Finance Minister Antonio Palocci and his close advisors. House Leaders
    Mercadante and Renan Calheiros witnessed these meetings and this agreement.

    By vetoing what had been
    accorded, the President demoralizes his leaders and his minister, transforms
    future agreements into empty promises, and shows contempt in the way Congress
    is treated. He unlocks a precedent that will make new deals impossible.

    This creates a Distrust
    Shock, in lieu of the promised Social Shock.

    Instead of the Social
    Shock from this administration, we have an emotional shock of sadness and
    distrust. What remains is the perplexing hope in the possibility that the
    President made this decision unaware. Either he was not informed of the agreement
    or he did not read the veto he signed.

    Sad wish. The truth is
    the government is once again postponing campaign pledges and fruits of negotiations
    in Congress.

    Check out the Social Shock
    set of measures proposed by Senator Cristovam Buarque, included in the Statute
    of Budgetary Policies, vetoed by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva:

    "Art. 119. The Executive
    will implement a series of actions entitled "Social Shock for the Protection
    of Low Income Citizens", detailed below:

    I. I send to Congress
    the bill that enables the initial establishment of the Fund for Maintenance
    and Development of Basic Education and Appreciation of Education Professionals—FUNDEB—for
    the fiscal year of 2005;

    II. Submit to Congress
    the program to raise in real terms the value of the minimum monthly salary;

    III. Speed up the program
    Brazil Literate, aimed at ending young and adult illiteracy by the end of

    IV. Increase the execution
    of sanitation projects, in order to provide for the employment of—at
    least—500,000 workers;

    V. Speed up the implementation
    of the Family Scholarship Program, in order to benefit, in the short run,
    all families in poverty or extreme poverty, as well as intensify the oversight
    of the fulfillment of requirements for eligibility in the program, especially
    school attendance by participating children;

    VI. Accelerate the implementation
    of Communal Drugstores, in an effort to have the whole nation covered within
    the next three years;

    VII. Pick up the pace
    in the execution of the Housing Projects Program, to benefit families and
    give a boost to job creation for low income citizens;

    VIII. Accelerate the implementation
    budgetary measures related to land reform;

    IX. Increase the number
    of towns to benefit from the Family Health Program, setting out as a goal
    the expansion of the program to the entire nation by 2007;

    X. Promote the increase
    of resources from official credit agencies towards funding the Micro-Loans

    XI. Submit to Congress
    a specific program, with objective goals and defined tools, to abolish children’s
    work and prostitution; and

    XII. Speed up the execution
    of programs aimed at providing the people access to quality water."

    Cristovam Buarque——has
    a Ph.D. in economics. He is a PT Senator for the Federal District and was
    Governor of the Federal District (1995-98) and Minister of Education (2003-04).

    from the Portuguese by Eduardo Assumpção de Queiroz. He is
    a freelance translator, with a degree in Business and almost 20 years of
    experience working in the fields of economics, communications, social and
    political sciences, and sports. He lives in Boca Raton, FL. His email:

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