RICARDO SERRÃO LOBO DIZ NA europa QUE LULA ESTA ACANBANDO COM A DEMOCRACIA NO BRASIL

Political blogger Ricardo Serran Lobo says that, beneath his veneer as a reformer, Brazil’s President da Silva is driving the Brazilian democracy towards collapse . 

There is a saying in Brazil: “Just for the Brits to see”. It means doing something with the intention to deceive, and was coined in 1831, after the abdication of Dom Pedro I, who led Brazil to independence from Portugal and became the country’s first emperor.

At the time, Brazil was under pressure from Britain to declare the slave trade between it and Africa illegal. The provisory government that followed Dom Pedro I pretended to give way, and passed legislation to that effect. But, in fact, the slave trade only ended 20 years later, thanks to Emperor Dom Pedro II.

The current Brazilian government has also been ruling for the Brits to see. The Left has promoted the charismatic President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who came to power in 2003 and was re-elected in 2006 for a term that ends in 2010.

He was a founder of the Workers’ Party, came from the lowest levels of Brazilian society, had little education and once worked as a shoe-shiner. Da Silva has been sold to the poor – and to the Brits and the rest of the world – as the man who can get anything; as Brazil’s redeemer.

But da Silva, who came to power on a platform of widespread reform, has achieved little. The middle classes in the big cities know that da Silva’s claims of social reform are illusory – or at least greatly exaggerated – but the main TV channels, which need the revenue from government advertising and other federal favours, make daily infl ated claims on their news bulletins of his supposed achievements.

Da Silva’s government has subverted parliament, buying the support of members and senators in return for illegal monthly payments, in a racket known as Escândalo do Mensalão (Mensalão Scandal). There is a suspicion that public money was used for this purpose. As a consequence, members of parliament have absolutely no credibility with the population, living well and expecting to live better still.

The Mansalão case is currently before the Brazilian Supreme Court, but there is widespread suspicion that the court will not bring the corrupt to justice. As a consequence, the court’s standing has also plummeted in the eyes of the population.

In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, it is easy to find people who cannot accept giving 27 per cent of their wages to the government via income tax, and then paying a 40 per cent purchase tax. Part of the money raised by the Presidency of the Republic goes to unions and other organisations which, in return, organise pro-government demonstrations. One organisation that receives funds is the paramilitary; its members are armed and well-trained in guerrilla tactics. It will take property it wants by force, and often acts to intimidate those who would call this corrupt government to account.

While money is lavished on buying support, much-needed investment in infrastructure is woefully inadequate. The roads on which agricultural production is distributed are in poor condition. Some harbours, the ones run by the federal government, are abandoned and being closed. Investment in public education is minimal; there are too few schools and the majority of them are in a terrible condition. Teachers’ wages are low, and hence there is a severe shortage of qualifi ed people prepared to undertake a teaching career. The President, who did not learn to read until the age of 10, and left school at 12, tells the people to follow his own example: he had little formal  education, he points out, yet today he is head of state.

The public health system lacks doctors, who can earn much more in the private sector. There are too few hospitals, and these are overcrowded and prone to the outbreak of epidemics. The country also lacks prisons – Da Silva has built just one during his years in office.

What about Amazonian deforestation? The forests are being burned to free up agricultural land as never before, yet it is said there is no money to counter this destruction. Meanwhile, the minister in charge can afford an brand new waistcoat for each of his many TV appearances.

Da Silva’s legacy will be a country with a public debt of one trillion Real, with its democracy weakened, and closer to social breakdown than ever before – white against black, rich against poor. Da Silva’s government has peddled the illusion that Brazil needs a paternalistic state that can protect its people from the dragons of capitalism. It’s time that his people, the Brits and the rest of the world, learned to see through this illusion.

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