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Filling Potholes Is Not Enough. We Need to Change Brazil’s Direction

Brazilian capital Brasília Even more than an occasion to evaluate the year that has passed, the New Year is the moment to dream about the year to come. In the global world, we must remember that we are a part of humanity and make our wishes for all human beings and for the Planet Earth. In 2009, our wish is for all human beings to have peace, ecological balance, recovery from the economic crisis, and reduction of social inequality.

May the wars – over land, over religious values, over the simple ambitions of leaders, over shocks of civilization – give way to mutual respect. In the United States of America, the principal power of the present time, may the new president affirm that he is not only the first African American president, but also the first with 21st century values and objectives.

May the human beings, especially their leaders, find ways of reversing the rapacious civilization destroying life on the Planet. May the present financial crisis be overcome, not only with more money, but also with more logic, changing the course of the failed civilizatory project. And may the nations of the world define a plan with ethics – both ecological and social. May they formulate a plan that, besides protecting the environment, will serve to reduce social inequality.

Besides forming part of the Global World, however, we are a special part of that world called Brazil and we must, therefore, make special wishes.

In 2009, may we do our homework as part of humanity. May we defend our sovereignty, but may we also reverse the shameful destructive tendency towards our Amazon.

May we vigorously pursue our struggle to end our humiliating status as the champions of social inequality, the paradise of endemic diseases, the territory with the most serious inequality in access to education, the seventh largest contingent of illiteracy and a country with an education system leaving us totally unprepared to face the century-of-knowledge.

In 2009, may we exit the financial and economic crisis. May we do this not by merely throwing more money at the banks to finance the automobile industry, but also by reorienting our developmental model towards a more socially and ecologically balanced standard.

Instead of our usual approach – filling the same potholes that always return – let us instead use the “compass” – changing the direction of our social and economic project. Let us understand that small stopgap measures are not enough, that we need a revolution and that the best road is guaranteeing a school with maximum quality for each child.

Finally, let us remember that, above all, are we form part of the same city. That our family is called “the Federal District” and that it will turn 50 years old in 2010. No other city has accomplished so much in so little time. But as a city, it is the national champion of inequality.

Let us remember that we are arriving at this date as a city that is not merely large but also swelling. Therefore, let us formulate for 2009 the dreams of what is needed to commemorate the Federal District’s first half century feeling pride for what we have done instead of shame over what we have not yet accomplished.

In 2009, may the Federal District be capable of setting its mistreated territory in order, respecting all the springs of water that will nourish our future generations. In the next year may we show the true commitment made by leaders of different parties and, in the year of our golden anniversary, make the Federal District a territory free of illiteracy.

May our healthcare system exit the pages of reports of denunciations and enter the pages of reports of successes and examples for the rest of Brazil, an example we once were.

May education implant the true full-day school schedule, respecting the commitments made with the teachers, fulfilling the law that will guarantee children space in the schools beginning at age four, in kindergartens with full quality.

May we overcome the difficulties of transportation that is each day more chaotic, thus recovering one of our former sources of pride, a city without traffic jams.

May employment grow and our young people find reasons to live here, instead of their recent tendency to do the reverse of what their parents did: to seek employment in other parts of Brazil.

May the violence be under control, putting an end to the daily tragedies shown us by the television news shows, the massacres, the drug trafficking that we used to consider “illnesses” of other places.

Above all, may 2009 be a time of meetings, with debates and disagreements, but without the divisions of the past, as we seek ways to take good care of Our Piece of the World and thus contribute towards the construction of a New World.

Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District. You can visit his website – www.cristovam.org.br – and write to him at cristovam@senado.gov.br.

Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome LinJerome@cs.com.

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