Klaus Hart Brasilientexte

Aktuelle Berichte aus Brasilien – Politik, Kultur und Naturschutz

„Brazilian Confusion.“ Frei Betto, Brasiliens wichtigster katholischer Befreiungstheologe. „Elections or mere competition?“


There are people who are good at remembering (often slang) words and expressions which have been lost over time. Deonisio da Silva, a master of the Portuguese language, wrote the indispensable “Where do words come from” (Mandarim), revealing their etymologies, meanings and usage.


Words, like everything else, wear out eventually. They lose their quality, meaning and, therefore, usage. This is the case with right and left. In the days of world bipolarity between capitalism and socialism, they marked clear camps. Today, what does being on the right or the left mean?


Is the left in power in Brazil? Let us suppose that it is. But who are the leaders of their allied base? We all know the redundant Sarney, Collor, Renan Calheiros, Jader Barbalho, Maluf, Romero Jucá, Katia Abreu…[1]


How can a workers’ party government get along so well with the Brazilian upper class and yet maintain tense relations with social movements, such as the indigenous peoples and landless farmers?



Ausriß, brasilianisches Nachrichtenmagazin “Istoé” zur Bündnispartner-Überwachung, Friedensnobelpreisträger Barack Obama und Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel.


Apart from the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democratic Party) and some smaller parties, all conservative sectors of Brazilian society, including banks, building and mining companies, support the government by financing election campaigns. I hope that political reform – when it happens – will prevent candidates from receiving funds from companies and that donations from private persons will be limited to the  minimum salary ceiling.

Some of my companions in the struggle against the dictatorship, like Jose Dirceu and Jose Genoino, both PT (Workers’ Party) politicians, are now in jail. They were condemned by judges mostly appointed by the PT government. I consider the way they were detained on our Proclamation of the Republic day, a public holiday, to be illegal, unjust and insensible. To make a spectacle of another’s pain is to humiliate human dignity.

Allies of the government accuse the mass media of conniving to turn the trial into a spectacle. Why then does the government not promote the projects which regulate and democratise the media? Why does it not prevent the formation of oligopolies? Why does publicity financed by the federal government privilege channels which oppose the government?

In ten years of PT government, Brazil has improved much thanks to a correct increase in the minimum salary, a reduction in unemployment, independent foreign policy, solidarity with the progressive governments of Latin America and social programmes – however I lament that the Zero Hunger programme which was emancipatory, was exchanged for the compensatory Family Allowance.

Friends “on the left” complain that airports are too full of low income families. In the Northeast, the donkey was exchanged for the motorbike. And multinational automotive companies continue to flood our roads with cars while there is no investment in public transport.

Are products expensive in Brazil because they depend on the road system? Or are products expensive because lorries run on petrol? We have 8000 Km. of sea shore, large navigable rivers and almost no commercial navigation. When railways are mentioned, one thinks of bullet trains capable of transporting the elite on the Campinas-Sao Paulo-Rio de Janeiro route and not on rails which will crisscross the country from end to end, lowering the cost of our products.

Certainly, the present government is very different from Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government. And very similar too. It promised to investigate his government’s privatisations – “an accursed inheritance” – but did nothing about it. It adopted the same procedure: privatisation of Campo de Libra, which abounds in petroleum, a strategic product and of highways, ports and airports, without paying attention to the drop in the Vale do Rio Doce mining company profits after privatisation and of the value of Petrobrás shares after 60% passed into the hands of private capital, or the VASP airline bankruptcy. And there was no initiative towards re-nationalisation, such as Evo Morales did in Bolivia.

According to IPEA (Inst. of Applied Economic Research), which is a federal organ, social inequality between the richest and the poorest in Brazil is 175 times! Why are not structural measures taken to reduce it? In ten years of PT government, there was only one structural reform in Brazil, that of the Civil Servants’ Welfare Office, which favours private capital.

As long as the Republic’s budget designates more than 40% of our funds towards interest, amortisation and postponement of the public debt and less than 8% for Health and Education, Brazil will continue to dream of becoming the country of the future.

[1] All old political leaders.*Frei Betto is a writer, author of “O que a vida me ensinou” (What Life taught me) (Saraiva).www.freibetto.org twitter: @freibetto. ELECTIONS OR MERE COMPETION? Frei Betto*Marina Silva’s “stratagem” to join Eduardo Campos’ PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) proves how much Brazil urgently needs deep political reform.


The June street demonstrations showed that a good number of the population, especially the young, do not trust political parties which have become worn out due to a lack of fidelity to their statutory and programmatic principles. 


A hunger for power, the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”, alliances and coalitions, even when spurious, promiscuous and sealed by the vile profit of corruption, are more important than the parties’ founding principles.


The 2014 presidential election is doomed to be reduced to a competition between political “chiefs”. Behind the scenes, party coalitions with an eye on more free TV time for election propaganda will be made based on promises in the distribution of ministries, unaccounted funds, allotting of positions and functions. 


Even if the candidates proclaim marvels to voters, in the end, when election results are announced, what will matter are the accords made behind the scenes and confirmed during the election process.


How hard it is to rouse hope in the young, to inspire utopia, to convince them of the importance of not remaining indifferent to the election process when one sees that not a single candidate puts the Brazil project above their own project for power! The opinions of marketeers will always be more important than the voters’ demands. 


Ever since it was founded in 1980 and until Lula’s first election as president in 2002 , the PT (Workers’ Party) defended agrarian reform as being necessary for Brazil. After 10 years in power, little has been done in this regard. On the contrary, the latifundium has expanded, great extensions of land have been purchased by foreigners and agro business advances in Amazonia and treats indigenous people as a nuisance for progress. 


As long as a constituent assembly is not called exclusively for political reform, voters will demonstrate on the streets to show their indignation, to organise hope and make their vote a recourse for the compulsory retirement of  “chiefs”, promoting candidates who have proved they are prepared to break the uncompromising taboo that says that Brazilian structures are untouchable.


As Cazuza[1] had warned, many of our illusions were lost, our dreams were sold, and there is no point sitting on the fence. We all need an ideology which brings meaning to our lives and to our politics.


Otherwise we will all be deceived by neo liberalism which seeks to turn us all into consumers and not citizens; by religious fundamentalism which insists on denying the lay State and by parties which, as Lampedusa described, preach change so that everything will remain as it is. 



*Frei Betto is a writer, author of “Fome de Deus” (Hunger for God) (Paralela)  www.freibetto.org twitter: @freibetto.






Dieser Beitrag wurde am Donnerstag, 26. Dezember 2013 um 14:09 Uhr veröffentlicht und wurde unter der Kategorie Kultur, Politik abgelegt. Du kannst die Kommentare zu diesen Eintrag durch den RSS-Feed verfolgen.

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